You know that “New Year” feeling? The one where you see the potential and possibility that could come with the arrival of another trip around the sun. Businesses feel that too (we know we do)!
The end of the year can be a time to reflect on the past 12 months and determine areas of improvement and also celebrate your accomplishments so far. We don’t want to wait until January 1 to start bettering ourselves OR our businesses.
So instead of New Years resolutions, we’re opting for “Clean-Up” goals. Things we can do BEFORE 2019 to improve our businesses, our strategies, and our operations.
1. AUTOMATE WHAT YOU CAN
A lot of times, we see a lack of automation with businesses that started from the ground up. When your company began as one person or just a few people, and then begins to grow, it’s more and more difficult to remember to delegate. Or better yet, automate.
The best thing you can do for your business is to automate. Many entrepreneurs find themselves spending time on things that could be automated, wasting precious time they could be using to strategize and improve core areas of the business. The real question: are you working on your business or are you affecting it? You want to be affecting it.
Things like: time tracking, billing, repeating tasks, email sorting, email flows, social posts, reporting, and more can be examples of useful automation.
As an example, MAKE plans each of our client’s social content on a monthly basis. To “automate” this, we use scheduling tools, Facebook’s post-scheduler, and automated message responses to make the process as seamless as we can.
What do you automate?
2. CLEAN IT OUT
Okay, so we might dread this task a little more than our others, but its necessary to keep our marketing efforts effective.
Start with your email lists. Each year (more often if we have the time), we dig through each of our email lists and make sure our users are tagged correctly, a part of the right lists and segments, and that their contact information is filled out to the best of our knowledge. We remove colder leads or add new ones, update Merge Tags, verify spelling, and more.
We also take a moment to clean out our social profiles. Are we following unnecessary people or groups? Do we have any posts that aren’t cohesive with our brand? Any messages need answering or tools need implementing? Social media platforms beta test new tools all the time, so it’s important to make sure you’re utilizing everything at your disposal!
Note: “Cleaning it out” can also apply to that storage closet in your office no one has touched in a decade (we may or may not be speaking from experience).
3. UPDATE YOUR CREATIVE
We do this for our clients, but also for ourselves. Think email templates. For newsletters or drip campaigns, we try to update our creatives AT LEAST annually, so we can make sure our clients are seeing fresh content and that our users stay engaged.
Does your brand need a refresh? Likely, you can probably wait a few years before its time to update your entire brand, but are there elements that you can hit “refresh” on? Do an inventory and update what you believe is necessary for the new year.
You can also take this time to update your social presence, your web presence, and more.
Or, you can take time to update the creative space that surrounds you. If your environment encourages a creative atmosphere, you’re likely to be more productive. So for 2019, MAKE turned its walls bright blue and added some plants and posters to the mix.
4. REFLECT ON THE PAST YEAR
To close out 2018, we turn our attention to annual reports for our clients. These help us (and our clients) understand our marketing efforts better and see where our deliverables helped them succeed. We tag different points of the year where we ran campaigns or made significant changes so they can really digest an all-encompassing view of the year.
Running annual reports also helps us goal set for the year to come. We can see where we did well and where we have room for improvement. We can also see what kind of timing and effort is working well for each unique client and optimize their campaigns based on this information.
When reflecting on the last year, you should also think about the kinds of tools that are useful to your business. Remind yourself what you’re subscribed to and really do an inventory of what your business utilizes. This can help you cut costs when you discover tools you aren’t using, or allow you to take advantage of all the capabilities a certain tool may offer.
5. STRATEGIZE FOR 2019
Now that you’ve reflected on the past year, it’s important that these insights don’t sit stagnant in a file somewhere. Use what you’ve discovered to help make plans and implement change for 2019. Dive in-depth into your users and customer-base. Are your targeting efforts accurate? Are you appealing to the kind of customer you want to attract? If not, regroup and alter your efforts for the following year.
At MAKE, we like to set client goals and internal goals. Our internal goals might range from hitting a certain client-satisfaction score, being completely prepared for the on-boarding of new team members, or simply remembering to celebrate victories throughout the year (rather than waiting until the end).