It's that time of year again when people list their New Years resolutions. Lose 10 lbs, get to work early, call Mom every week. Sometimes they seem too hard, even though people know they should do them. Here is a list of 10 achievable marketing resolutions all businesses should focus on in the New Year.
1. Use a Calendar - iGoogle has a one where people can use alerts to remind them to write copy and send communications. Bonus? They can also share it with others so that they know exactly when a campaign launch is planned.
2. Publish a Blog - Yes, even if the company already has a website they should also host a blog. It's another way the search engines can pick up the site; the company establishes itself as an expert in the industry and gives a "voice" to business; and the company can get their readers' insight into how they feel about the company through comments they make.
It's not an overnight success, but when it starts to take off it can be incredibly beneficial. A few ways to ensure success are to make sure to flag categories on posts or tag them for search engines; and backlink to the company's own website from the most popular keywords in the posts. TypePad or WordPress are two blogging platforms that are cost-effective and easy to set up.
3. Get 5 Testimonials - Get the best customers to give quotes and use them everywhere. Include them on any outbound communications, in email newsletters, on the website and in the store. They are one of the most powerful forms of marketing a company has.
4. Get People Talking - Have a "wow" factor. Give free samples, throw a free gift into the customer shipment, call customers to see how they liked their service, send a birthday greeting. Whatever it is, get a word of mouth campaign going! A few great examples that have found success:
* Doctors calling the night after a procedure to see how things are going.
* Retailers throw something fun into the online shipment orders or shopping bags.
* Restaurants give a few cookies at the end of the meal.
* Consultants give their first 2 hours of time free.
5. Shake it Up - Pick one customer-facing thing the company does and change it drastically. Change the entire look of the website, repaint the store, start a monthly club, change advertising messages, change uniforms, heck even change the "hold" music. Just do something different in the coming year that the company has always wanted to do. 2008 is the year.
6. Host an Event - If the company has a retail location, host an after-hours sale or an event to celebrate the best customers, the New Year or an anniversary party. Make sure to do enough marketing in-store and outside the location to get the number of people desired there.
Host a "lunch and learn" or a networking event. Again, make sure to do marketing to an internal mailing list as well as potentially renting a list for a postal mailing to get people there. If the company's work is online, host a webinar. Note: most of these have a 50-60% attendee rate.
7. Advertise - Make a list of 5 competitors OR 5 other businesses in the local area and look at where they advertise. Then finally answer that pesky ad sales person and choose somewhere that the company has never advertised before. Then do it! Caveat: don't just do it once and think it will never work, if it's in the budget, do it 4-6 times before deciding to stop it.
8. Do a Customer Survey - Send an email and ask 10 questions about customers' experience with the company. Give a 5 point rating: Excellent, Good, Nuetral, Poor, Very Bad. Be ready for the good, bad and the ugly, and learn what your customers like and what they don't. Then use that to make changes.
Make sure to send to a statistically valid sample and get a good sampling back. Don't make changes based on just 1-2 remarks. Make sure to announce the changes to all of the customers in an email campaign. Everyone wins!
9. Collect Email Addresses - Put an opt-in form on every page of the website or blog, or link to it on every page with "Newsletter Sign Up." Put an exit pop-up window with the opt-in form when someone leaves the domain. Ask for customer's information at the counter; input it daily into a spreadsheet or better yet a contact management system. However the company collects email addresses, send a welcome email to them with a thank-you offer. Companies can use VerticalResponse to collect email addresses for free!
10. Analyze - Companies can use Google Analytics to track website visits. Get to know where the traffic is coming from and how good it is. Then make changes to the site, or marketing materials.
Adapted from press release by VerticalResponse, Inc. (http://www.verticalresponse.com)