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Journey Into 2015 – What Will You Do?

Set Goals for 2015Awake in the morning and realize it is almost New Years, again! What kind of year was 2014 for you? For me, it was a year of considerable business development, a lot of fun events, new friendships, and a little bit of “cheddar” along the way. Last year I talked about building success in 2014 by focusing on value, technology, and messaging. Business owners who I worked with took the message to heart and profited by it. This year the game plan is a little bit different.

Marketing Platform Not Knee Jerk Reaction

Sales are slow and I need to do something, now! Sound familiar? It should. Many of my clients have suffered the results of this mindset and are painfully changing to a better tomorrow. It’s great to create an initiative but in marketing nothing will succeed if it is done only once. A knee jerk reaction to the stress of slowing revenue is one of the things that has to stop in 2015. Planning a platform approach with two or three year-long initiatives will reduce stress, increase confidence, and provide a daily/weekly/monthly game plan. Take the time to sit down and write out what you “intend” to do instead of what you will “react” to in the coming year.

Opportunity Realization Not Rationalization

We all have heard:  create opportunity, build your customer base, and focus on profit not expense. Sounds good but is entirely off the mark. Marketing generates possibility not sales. The job of your marketing plan is to understand your niche, find and educate your buyers, and apply the right product mix to create positive change. Opportunity is realized when action leads to a defined potential not “if we do this or if we change this.” Rationalizing the chasm between what you offer and what educated buyers want will creates a slow downward spiral to failure. Better to nurture a smaller group of interested buyers than spending budget on a widespread approach to a vast marketplace. The wisdom of this is demonstrated by small business trends like buying local, product bundling, creation of vendor ecosystems, and joint campaigning. Take advantage of industry best practices and grab the right opportunities this year.

Lead Generation Not Wishful Thinking

Targeting and profiling should lead to potential opportunity, right? Not necessarily. If the measurement and identifiers are based on unrealistic parameters, research and qualification are wasted and simply not effective. For example, a local shop knows there is huge market potential in a nearby city and intends to maximize through their advertising and marketing. The underlying logic – if we secure 1% of the target market, the company will grow to exceed seven figures. Unfortunately, limited budgets and being in the wrong geographic location will undermine any success. Symptoms include unusually low response to direct mail, lack of online response to targeted ads, low customer satisfaction scores … the list goes on. Better to identify a marketplace where the potential for growth is in line with the company’s core strengths. For 2015, waste no time on pie-in-the-sky accounts and go after more local-centric opportunities which benefit from proximity, product focus, and your customer service.

Campaigning  Versus “Seeing What Sticks”

Perhaps I am beating a dead horse here but building a marketing shot gun versus a rifle will only get you two things – a headache and broke! The key to success in 2015 will rely on your ability to fine tune messaging that brings buyers to your doorstep for one purpose.  to buy. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through the use of a serial approach to advertising and prospect nurturing. Take advantage of online tools like blogging, auto-responders, video, and webinars to stimulate and capture leads and then convert through clearly defined offers based on both value and time sensitivity. 2015 will continue digital overload illustrated by online short attention spans. People are quickly scanning, comparing offers, and then going to retail to buy.

Strategic Ecosystem Not Partner Manipulation

Many business owners still attempt to go it alone when building their success. The adage of “two heads are better than one” really will apply in 2015. Creating effective partnerships and joint products will help build loyalty to the brand and increase opportunity for reorders. For example, how many small business owners attend networking events with their hand out rather than their ear. Ecosystems build on group knowledge of several products for a target market offered by all participants. The value of the group is realized by buyers who are able to obtain multiple products and services from one source rather than having to find them individually. This year attempt to grow your ecosystem with three other partners in your “value chain” and reap the benefits.

Sales Funnels Are Not Beer Bongs

Sales funnels are not just nice to have. By nature a sales funnel will help take the benefit of marketing and turn it into assessed opportunity. Many of the small business owners I speak with limit themselves by thinking in the now not in the future. How much short-term cash can I get versus how many loyal business relationships can I build in the future. What’s in it for me rather than what’s in it for us. In effect, drinking from the proverbial beer bong – the best way to get a buzz quickly and for the least amount of time and money. Choke down a bunch of beer at once in the rush to the BUZZ and not pay attention to the cost. Sound familiar to you. Well, let’s see if we can change in 2015.  I will leave you with this advice  for the coming year.. build loftier goals – measured, budgeted, and real;  stoke the fire of ingenuity and passion within yourself; and dare to be different for you are the only thing that you can change.

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