Most businesses, regardless of size, are working hard this month to complete their strategic planning and budgeting for 2013. Every organization needs a road map to the future. Planning typically includes strategic corporate vision, a plan to achieve the vision, an operating budget, a product release schedule, sales forecasts, marketing plan and budget, etc. Do not overlook the six things you must plan for 2013.
1. Take a strategic approach to customer/client retention.
Be prepared to focus on the top 20 percent of your customer/client base. Remember the 80/20 rule, and plan to “fire” the bottom 20 to 40 percent of your clients. The point is to stop wasting valuable time and effort nurturing customers or clients that will never be profitable or loyal. There are several ways to do this. The most popular approaches are (1) remove these people from all customer retention and loyalty programs, (2) drop them from lead nurturing programs, (3) suggest that a competitor or another firm might be a better match for their needs, and (4) increase your pricing to them. At the very least, you need to recover the time and resources you are spending on these customers/clients and redirect them to new prospects that match your ideal customer profile.
2. Protect your company from dealing with the same mistakes again by creating and implementing a new client qualification process.
It is important to create a process to ensure every prospective client qualifies according to the same standards. Create a list of appropriate questions for every new client to ensure the best possible match. Establish your qualifications, such as minimum monthly sale or fee, minimum number of annual products or services to purchase, ability to pay on time, and ability to refer new customers/clients. Then, put that in writing and disseminate it throughout the company. Communicate with your team and with clients exactly what your company does or does not do and what products you do or do not sell. Also, outline the level of customer service or repairs you are willing to provide.
3. If you plan to make any exceptions to the qualifications because you particularly want to work with a client (or continue to work with a client) or gain a foothold in a new market, define the conditions under which you will accept clients explicitly, and establish a limit on the number of these clients or customers you will accept.
An accounting firm, for example, might want to increase their role in a particular industry or sector, such as education. The firm might decide to accept five clients that meet only 80% of the usual qualifying criteria. A painting company might decide to give back to the community by providing their services to a select group of local not-for-profit organizations at half of their usual fee.
4. If you do not already have one, develop a social media program. If you do have a program, review it carefully and expand it where appropriate.
It is no longer possible for any business to ignore social media and expect to be competitive. You must have a social media presence that includes branding, marketing, customer engagement and customer service, at the very least. The plan and the budget must be mutually appropriate for the overall needs and size of your company. You should also think three times about trying to manage your social media presence internally if you are a small company. Remember that doing the work yourself does not remove cost. A cost-benefit analysis will help you recognize the hidden costs of implementing a social media program.
5. Develop a content plan for your business.
Your company’s social media presence will require a steady flow of quality content. Your website also requires regular additions of fresh content to improve or maintain your ranking in the search engines. Your content plan needs to include a policy and a plan for
- Blogging frequency
- Article frequency
- Ebook, White Paper, etc. publication planning
- Website updates
- Coordination with the marketing program
- Who will create content
- How you will market content
- Curation of content
- Repurposing of content
- SEO strategy for content
- Social sharing of content
- Audio and video content
6. Develop a local marketing strategy.
Many small businesses (and larger ones) assume that because they have a brick-and-mortar presence, they do not need local marketing. Many of the google algorithm changes could be minimizing some of your local visibility. If you are a regional or national firm, you have probably lost a significant amount of local visibility in your target markets. The kind of localized marketing needed will require planning and detailed implementation of the plan. A local marketing strategy should be part of your comprehensive marketing plan, but it should not be overlooked or its importance underestimated.
If your firm’s strategic vision calls for corporate growth in 2013, your plan must include the five areas listed here. You will need to manage resources carefully, especially if you operate a small business. You must have a content plan if you hope to grow your business. The marketing plan must support a social media program, and you must focus your sales and marketing resources on the kind of clients/customers that will be profitable for your company.