With the start of 2014 right around the corner, your news feed is probably clogged with “Best of 2013” posts. I hate those things. I know it’s easy filler content for blogs, especially during the holidays when most people have other things on their mind. But I like to stay laser focused on the coming year. Rather than use December to reflect on past experiences, I’m ramping up to hit the next year running.
Sure, some analysis of last year can be relevant. But spending too much time worrying about what happened doesn’t help you get ready for the new challenges. I typically focus on three things to get me ready for things after January 1.
1) What’s the current status of my marketing efforts? Did I reach my goals for EOY 2013?
Hopefully in January 2013 you took the time to create actionable goals for your marketing efforts. Now is the time to benchmark those goals. Did you get the site visits you needed? How many new subscribers to your newsletter? At a minimum, take the time to document your site analytics, newsletter subscribers, and social media followers for the previous year. This will give you a solid baseline to measure against next year. If you want to really dig deep into your current marketing efforts, consider a professional review of your online brand. My company offers a free online review on our site.
2) What are my goals for EOY 2014?
Once you’ve developed a strong baseline of where you are today, it’s time to set up goals for 2014. One of the biggest mistakes I see is the lack of an online marketing plan. Most businesses just move through the year willy nilly. A post here, a post there, a social media update here. But there is no real plan for how that content can improve your business. You need to develop a more thorough plan for your content creation in 2014. The best way to start is to ask yourself, “What are the goals for my website in 2014? What about my Facebook page?” If the answer is something like “increasing sales,” how will the content you are creating help to move product? Don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun. The most important thing you need to do is make sure you are tracking and analyzing the results. If you’re not you’ll never know what’s really working.
3) What’s trending for 2014 and am I in position to take part in those trends?
Lastly, I like to take stock of what’s happening around me. Are there new tools out there my company can leverage to help me reach new customers? Should I dive into Instagram? Can I commit those resources?
Incremental changes and updates are more cost effective and meaningful than huge payouts for complete redesigns.
Now is also a good time to check in on your competitors. What’s working for them? Did they just launch a new web design? Are they cranking out three blog posts a week while you are barely doing one? By taking a look around and seeing what is working outside your business you can insure that your company stays relevant.
Hopefully I’m preaching to the choir and these concepts were done shortly after Thanksgiving. But my experience tells me that’s probably not the case. The good news is it’s never too late to start making plans for a strong 2014.