By Published On: December 18, 2012Categories: Marketing

Around December each year, we fix our eyes on the coming New Year.  We envision bigger successes, both personal and professional.  We are full of hope and ready to work hard, right after we get back from vacation.  So, what is it that will make next year even better than this year?  Well, it starts with taking a good look at 2012, right now.

Businesses cannot grow based solely on an inspirational New Year’s resolution, although inspiration is always a good start.  It takes a good hard look at what has happened up until this point, then some solid planning.  It’s a hectic time of year for some as the retail market expands then quickly contracts.  In other fields, it may be a gruelingly slow time.  For many, distractions abound as our minds are on family and vacation time.  But, no matter what business you are in, the best thing to do is to take inventory on what worked and what did not before moving forward, not just around the holidays, but really any time you are looking to change your business or marketing strategy. You must take this time to look back before looking forward.

So lets go through this. Take out a pen and paper.  Write down each of your marketing strategies for the current year, how long you engaged in the strategy, what the results were, and how much it cost you.  This is not for Uncle Sam, just you, so using estimated figures are fine.  Refrain from determining if something was or was not successful based on a feeling.  Look at the data.  Think about the phone calls, the clients, and the sales.  You may be surprised how revealing the information can be after it is nicely organized on a sheet of paper.

After you determine the actual effect of your efforts, then think about what to do next. Business growth can only come when you get a positive return on your investments.  Don’t necessarily abandon what you did last year just because it didn’t create a windfall.  Any marketing you do which produces even a dollar of revenue is probably worth continuing.   That’s because you are building brand awareness, which is a vitally important tool.  You may need to beef up those existing strategies or add something new on top of what you are already doing.  Of course, efforts with no proven results are candidates for the chopping block, even if that full-color ad looked spectacular.

There are always new marketing strategies being touted by the gurus, especially at this time of year.  Six Things You Should Do…3 Things You Should Never Do…10 Proven Things…etc.  It is true that the game is constantly changing; so, you must stay on top of the trends and algorithm changes of the world.  You need to be educated and current which is best done by relying on people who live and breathe marketing.  Otherwise, you will be spending valuable time reading about things like Pinterest Business Accounts, Mobile-Compatible Websites, the Google Disavow Tool, Retargeting, Promotion-Based PPC, and B2B Social Ads in addition to things much deeper in the tech sphere. But don’t forget where you came from, and to know what worked, you have to go back through and evaluate all the change that happens over time.

The truth is that windfalls are pretty rare without the planning and hard work that lead up to them over time.  If you want to get ahead of your competitors in 2013, use the knowledge that you have gained by your experience up until this point.  No efforts are ever wasted if you use what you learn to make informed decisions.  Then, work with professionals that can guide you to the best marketing fit for your business.

Happy New Year!