New Year’s Resolutions

28 12 2009

The holidays are a natural time for small business owners to turn their energies towards their families and their business often suffers a bit of benign neglect. Retail businesses spend most of their moments trying to capture as much of the elusive holiday spending as possible while service businesses often enjoy the quiet lull in preparation for the festivities. After the holidays is the perfect time to regroup both personally and professionally, look back over the past year and evaluate your successes and failures, and plan for a successful year to come.

2010 offers a continuation of many of the same challenges from 2009 and managing finances tightly will still remain key to the ultimate success for small businesses. Businesses need to give the impression that they are thriving in this market, despite the obvious decrease in discretionary spending. Now is the time to look over your marketing materials and take stock of your current state. Ask yourself the following questions:

1) What marketing is working for your business? Is it networking personally? Is it word-of-mouth? Is it having an outstanding product? Find your strengths and focus on those. Now is the time to take an honest look at your marketing materials and get them in better shape.

2) Are you using a logo to reinforce your brand? If so, does it convey an image about your business or product that inspires people to have confidence in your business? If not, budget some money to revamp your business image. Look for a logo that has a limited number of colors and gradients (colors that blend into each other) if you plan on doing embroidery (uniforms, give-aways) as those are harder to reproduce. Look for clean lines that will work well when printed and be easily recognizable. Avoid using clipart. Clipart looks like clipart for a good reason, it is! Hire a professional designer to put together a logo that inspires you. If funds are limited, consider running a contest through Prova Advertising, and set your own budget. You’ll see the logos and get to decide what you like before choosing a winner and paying the contest award.

3) Is advertising working? If you run ads in more traditional medium such as a local newspaper or the yellow pages, it may be more difficult to know where your ads are having an impact. Consider running a coupon, if appropriate, in one publication only to see how much traffic you get from that one. Remember, it generally takes about 4-6 appearances of an ad to start showing any impact. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking you can run one ad and your phone will ring off the hook. It often does not work that way.

4) Are you using social media? If you think Facebook is just for kids, you’re wrong and you’re missing out on a potentially critical section of your advertising. If you don’t know anything about Facebook or Twitter, consider hiring a social media specialist to create a strategy. Be sure you find an expert who does this for small businesses. Social networking sites are one of the fastest and most effective ways to reach your customer base.

No matter what type of business you have, now is the time to fine-tune your strategies for the upcoming year to make sure your business survives to ring in 2011. It’s going to be a tough year but by organizing now and preparing for the challenge, your business will have the best chance of success.

– Jeannie Nash
Marketing Strategist
jeannie@prova.fm