Points North

10 Tips to Make 2010 Your Year!

on Jan 06, 2010 in Business

The new year is upon us!

You’ve partied with friends or stayed in and celebrated with family. You toasted with champagne or kissed at midnight. And no doubt you’ve started to contemplate the possibilities of what is yet to come. There is no time like the present to start thinking about your business goals and what you hope to accomplish in 2010. Thinking about this now and setting some goals for yourself will help to further ensure your success in the future. In light of the new year, we have developed a list of 10 tips of what you absolutely have to do to make 2010 your year.

10. What is Your Brand? “Brands are defined by the customer. They exist as a feeling that extends beyond the product itself,” says T. Scott Gross, author of Microbranding. What do we say? We define a brand as the emotional and psychological relationship you have with your customers. Strong brands elicit thoughts, emotions, and sometimes physiological responses from customers. Think of your favorite brands and your response to them as they pass through your mind (for example…Apple, Starbucks, Nike, etc). What should your customers think or feel when they talk about or see your company? If you are drawing a blank, you should definitely take some time to think about this and write down what you want your customers to feel. Words like “happiness, quality, reliability” are all great adjectives to start with. Then, build your entire company around these core values. Remember, brands are not concrete; they are the thoughts, feelings, and psychological relationships between a business and its customer. And your brand is the foundation of all your marketing activities.

9. Your Mission Statement. According to the Center for Business Planning, your mission statement should be a clear and succinct representation of your company’s purpose for existence. It should incorporate socially meaningful and measurable criteria addressing concepts such as the moral/ethical position of the enterprise, public image, the target market, products/services, the geographic domain and expectations of growth and profitability. And, it should represent value. If you haven’t written your mission statement yet, now is the time! And when you are finished you can put it in your office or place it on the back of your business card as a constant reminder. Your mission statement can be broad or specific and shouldn’t be more than a couple sentences. If you have trouble getting started, we recommend researching the mission statements of some of your favorite brands. For example, 3M’s mission statement is “to solve unsolved problems innovatively,” Mary Kay Cosmetics’ mission is “to give unlimited opportunity to women,” and our personal favorite, Walt Disney’s mission is “to make people happy.”

8. Image is Everything. Have you been putting off getting your website professionally designed or getting a logo for yourself? Don’t make this mistake! Make this year your year! Start setting aside some funds so that you can have a budget to make this happen. When you are researching which creative company or freelancer to go with, remember that you get what you pay for. Websites that are offering to do your logo design for next to nothing may not give you the personal touch you deserve. Here are some components to consider in your search: Will you be able to call and talk one on one with the potential company about your needs? Will the company consult with you for free? Will they offer more than one option? What is the turn around time? How would they deliver the final files to you? Ultimately, you want a company that will take the time to understand the nature of your business and the industry that you are in, so that they can provide you with the highest quality of design. Still not sure where to start? We will evaluate your old website or logo for free. Simply fill out this contact form to get your FREE evaluation and we will be in touch!

7. Get Your Social Networking in Sync. This comes in two parts. (Part 1) Now is the time to get all of your social networking efforts together. Are still logging into Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn separately? You can save a lot of time by syncing up your social media efforts. For example, from your Facebook account you can link up to your Twitter account so your updates will appear from one to the other.  Activate this application by clicking here. Log into LinkedIn and you’ll see that it has the option to post Twitter status updates too! Now logging into Twitter will update your status on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Do you have multiple Twitter accounts? Two great interfaces you should consider for managing them are HootSuite and Splitweet. Check out this very informative article on Mashable: The Social Media Guide for more options.

(Part 2) Does your website look one way, your Facebook page another way, and your Twitter page looks like something else? Consistency and repetition are very important when it comes to brand recognition. Make sure your customers and fans know its you by taking advantage of being able to have a custom Twitter background and upload images to your company’s fan page. An easy fix would be to make sure that your logo is clearly displayed on all forms of social media. There are also several sites that provide FREE Twitter backgrounds; if you go this route, double check to make sure the logo or name of the provider of the image you use isn’t so big and bold that it overpowers your logo and your message.

Want something more original? You can also get your Twitter background and icon custom designed to match the style of your website or your company. Our client, Footprints at 50, is an excellent example of having a unified professional design across the board.  Be sure to check out her website, Twitter page, and blog. We’d be happy to take a look at your online presence and offer suggestions for FREE. Just fill  out this contact form and we will be in touch!

6. SEO (Search Engine Optimization). It’s easy, it’s beneficial, and many people do not do it. Your website can be spectacular, but it’s not living up to its full potential if the right people aren’t seeing it. Optimizing your website makes it easy for search engines to go through your site and bring it up in relevant searches. Setting up your Meta Tags, site map and page descriptions is simple HTML that you may be able to do, or your designer or VA should definitely be able to do. If you are unsure about it, check with your service provider where you purchased your domain name and hosting package. They might have a search engine optimization plan that you can pay for to have it done. For example, if your site is through GoDaddy.com, they have a search engine visibility package, with the lowest option priced at $28.49 for 2 years. Check out this plan and other options by clicking here. And, as an added tip, submitting your website to most search engines is FREE.

5. Meet People. Hello, my name is… Many industries operate on a “it’s all who you know” basis. Be available. Check out your local business journal for networking events, but also keep in mind, they don’t always have to be networking events. Have you heard of Meetup.com? This site allows people to meet up and form groups based on similar interests. Search for groups in your area that meet your needs and interests (for example, Young Entrepreneurs, or Green Business Owners). Also search for groups that might be outside of your industry (if you are a boutique, you may get more potential customers amongst a mix of people rather than other boutique owners). By the way, as you’re headed out and about, it would be a good idea to have some business cards handy. Our portfolio is full of examples of business cards we’ve done for our satisfied clients. For example, check out Destiny Homes 4 You, Get Luba Fit, and Butterfly Effects.

4. Send Out An E-Newsletter! It’s a very cost effective way to stay in touch with your customers and clients. This is not something that you have to update every day. Set it up so it works with your schedule so you don’t overwhelm yourself looking for content. An eNewsletter is an excellent way to call attention to a new product or promotion and its a good way to collect contact information. Many service providers for eNewsletters (such as Constant Contact for example) offer free trial periods so you can get comfortable using their service. Mail Chimp offers free use of their services as long as your mailing list is under 500. Here’s some additional advice, choose quality over quantity when it comes to the content of your newsletter. It is okay to sign up for other newsletters from your industry just to see what they are talking about and how they structure their content.

3. Keep In Touch. Your customers/clients are what drives your business. Keep them happy and you will get additional business from referrals. Let your customers know that you appreciate them in a way that brings them back to you. After you complete a service for them, send them a note thanking them for their business, and you can also offer 10% off their next project. If it’s a product that you are selling, you can also include a note that says “Thank you for your business!” You can include a coupon for a percentage off of their next purchase. Or, you can include a company branded promotional item (a notepad, pen, bumper sticker, etc) as a freebie with their order. Everyone loves getting something for free, and it is even more of a surprise when it’s unexpected. These little tactics are sure to help you hold on to your current customers and attract new ones as well.

2. Take Time For You. This would be time away from the computer, away from the smart phone, away from all things work related. You are no good to your business or your clients/customers if you are stressed out or feel as if you are stretching yourself too thin! Whip out your planner and schedule some me time! It can be a few minutes to dive into a book you’ve been meaning to read, a walk in the park, dinner with friends, etc. Make a wish list if you have to. You schedule time to meet with clients, to give free consultations, and to work on your online marketing efforts, why not put yourself on the schedule too? Taking a few minutes or more a day will allow you to regroup, refocus, have a clear mindset, and be of even more value to your customers.

1. Grow. If you are a small business owner then it may seem like you are on the front line for your business. You are making the sales call, you are the customer service rep, you are the marketing guru. How can you continue to fuel the many facets of your business? You must look for ways to continue to grow on a personal and professional level. Make it a goal to once or twice a month do something that advances your knowledge and your skill-set. This might mean attending an online seminar, speaker series, lecture, class or a conference that relates to your trade (be sure you’re not signing up for “How to Make 6 Figures in 30 Days” or similar platforms, you want professional, concrete information as it relates to you).  Set aside a small budget to make this happen. This is important. These growth sessions, whatever they may be, will help you to develop fresh ideas, gain a broader perspective, and learn from the experiences of others.

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