Once the confetti of New Year’s Eve has been cleaned up and we’ve taken all our annual leave, it becomes time to get to work- to shed the issues of 2009′s disastrous economic climate and to develop methods for ensuring that 2010 will have more positive results. Below are ten things to consider when taking that next step. These aren’t resolutions as much as they are action items. As we have all heard before, the definition of insanity is doing the same things while expecting different results. If we want 2010 to be different than 2009, we have to be different.
1) Create a plan that begins with the end- We want business to be better. We want to make more money. We want to have more customers. We know that a plan is an essential part of goal achievement, but I want to take it one step further in examining the environment that surrounds your company when you enter 2011. Think about where you want your company to be, what you want your company to be doing, think about what will result from having more customers, revenues, etc. and work backwards to your current situation. Build your plan from there. I would also encourage you to include employees in planning 2010 since they are the ones that will carry out this vision. They can give great insight on ground-level constraints and will take ownership in your plan, if they helped develop it.
2) Clear out last year’s clutter- Not only do you need to physically clear out any stuff from the previous year, but mentally you must get pass the fact that 2009 was less than stellar. As in baseball, it’s a new season; we all have a chance to win.
3) Brainstorm five people who can help you reach your goals in 2010- Determine five people, whether its journalists, prospects, influencers or whoever, that can help you reach your goals. Then strategize methods for getting in front of them. Then do it!
4) Take a stand on social media- My opinion is that all companies should have a voice in all places where they could possibly be discussed. However, to this point, B2C companies, non-profits and events have had greater success using social media as a marketing tool than B2B companies. That doesn’t mean that B2B’s can’t find their niche in social media, they just have to work harder. And that’s my point, if you don’t feel that social media is working for your company, stop doing it. If you want to make it work, put in the extra time and resources. Whatever you do, don’t make a poor, uninspired effort in this arena because it will look worse than making no effort at all.
5) Become a Subject Matter Expert- Take the time to learn the ins and outs of your field. This will not only help you to provide a better product but will create much more credibility when in front of the customers, especially if your knowledge can be displayed via the media. Also learn as much as you can about the customer’s experience with your products and the competition. The knowledge can be invaluable in all facets of your business.
6) Dedicate yourself to customer marketing- While many companies can cut their prices, few can enhance their quality. Make sure that the experience that customers have with your products is unsurpassed and empower them to tell others. If customers see the experience with your company as a “must have” they will find a way to afford it and will recommend it. Find ways to encourage them to recommend your products more often. The customer is always the most powerful endorser of your products.
7) Investigate how new technologies can help your company- If a new technology can streamline work processes, help you communicate better or simply make someone’s job easier, it’s a worthy investment. The time you save down the line because of technology investments can save money in the years to come.
8) Always extenuate the positive- Times are tough, we all know this. However, if you are reading this, you’re blessed. When people talk about past recessions, listen to them. Take comfort in knowing that tough times are temporary. Make sure this message permeates your entire company. It may not sound like much, but a positive, confident attitude will be projected to prospects and will give you a much better shot at turning them into customers.
9) Stay the course- Don’t get desperate and change your business model, plan or the way you do business. In football, smart coaches may make adjustments at halftime, but they always believe in their offensive and defensive philosophies as well as the players who carry them out.
10) Be Courageous- Deep down we all know that the most successful people in the world had to make a bold move from time to time. To turn the tide from last year, you may have to do the same. While your core philosophy should remain, it’s important to continuously keep your eyes open for new opportunities and ways to enhance your business processes. Beyond that, being courageous means taking charge of your economic recovery. Creating plans, seeking out people who can help your company, utilizing social media, being creative and, essentially, doing all the things that made you successful in the first place. In a phrase, “play to win!”