Happy New Year everyone. It’s the start of 2013 and the time of year when we make our resolutions for the months ahead. New Year is always a good time to look back and evaluate progress over the previous 12 months and plan how to develop. Not only does this time of year signal the last three months of the traditional business year, it also highlights what needs to be considered for the year ahead.
Of course there are bigger factors to consider - the national and international picture, the continued problems in the Eurozone causing problems for exporters etc, etc, but in the same way as we decide to embark on that personal fitness regime after Christmas we can do the same with how we work. So if you haven’t done so already, here at Zulu we would suggest the following areas for consideration:
1. Have you reviewed your business strategy against your operational plan? If not, you should do. Make sure you are on track and the long term needs are being met. In these turbulent times it’s easy to fight the current battle and forget about the war!
2. Do you have a marketing strategy that is delivering what you need it too? There is an old military saying that ‘No plan survives contact with the enemy’. Similarly, your strategy may look good on paper but how is it performing once it has been put into practice? Often this can be an area of operational drift, with campaigns becoming sub-standard and resulting in poorer than expected growth.
3. Do you have a good quality online presence? Web traffic is growing dramatically for all business sectors and your website provides a critical part of your corporate credentials. Is it up-to-date? Is it easy to read and navigate? Are all spellings and grammar correct? Your website is often the first point of contact the outside world may have with you so remember that first impressions count.
4. Is your marketing activity integrated? Increasingly customers and potential customers engage across a number of marketing channels and you need to make sure your business utilises these appropriately.
5. Is your marketing measured? Do you know what works? If not, you should make sure you agree a method of measuring return on investment. This way your new business activity will not be viewed purely as a cost on the business budget, but will have an intrinsic value.
6. What are your competitors doing right now and why? To use another military adage, ‘Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted’. A quick check of what the opposition is doing is worth doing regularly. It will help identify what might happen and what is driving their businesses.
7. Do you have the skills to deliver your marketing plans? Often businesses focus too narrowly on organic capabilities; the web is a good example. Many companies do not have the skills and capabilities to drive an online integrated marketing campaign and therefore neglect the opportunities.
8. Build a skills and knowledge network. The wide range of skills and capabilities your business needs are unlikely to be found all in one place. By networking you can put our business on the radar of other companies and industry figures. This will allow you to build mutually beneficial relationships not only with other companies in your field but also with suppliers or potential customers, which in turn will help to expand your market. Build a network that can share knowledge and activity by promoting collaboration rather than competition.
9. Make sure your supply chain is integrated and adds value to the end product or service. Often businesses neglect the downstream supply chain. This can have significant implications for quality control and customer satisfaction. Remember, many postal courier services are the human face of your businesses.
Savings can always be made by cutting non-essential activities but don’t make any big decisions before first fully reviewing your whole business plan. For example, areas such as PR, marketing and training are often the first areas to be axed yet they can be an important asset in maintaining relationships and investing in your staff.
Remember that above all a successful business hinges on happy customers. Therefore, the most important step toward a successful 2013 is to continue putting your customer’s needs at the forefront of everything you do. With every decision you make, think about how it will impact your customers. If you’re not sure what your customers need from you this coming year, just ask them.
Even in the age of social media, a simple phone-call or in-person meeting is the best way to take the pulse of your customers. A quick conversation will reveal invaluable insights about your customers and what they need to be successful.
If you would like some advice or help with this, or any other marketing problems, give Zulu a call for a no-obligation cup of coffee on 0121 308 4280 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org