For many businesses, the holidays are the busiest time of the year. And while an added boost in annual profits makes a nice end to the calendar year, how will your business look in the coming year? Believe it or not, it's time to create your plan for 2009.
When planning ahead, be sure you're touching all of the bases you want to cover in the New Year. Here are some thought starters:
- How much would you like to grow your business in the New Year?
- What do you need to do to achieve your growth plans?
- How many new customers do you want to add?
- What can you do to keep the customers you've got?
- What tactics will help you to achieve your growth? These include:
o Direct Mail
o Magazine Ads
o Newspaper Ads
o Yellow Pages
o Loyalty Programs
o Community Involvement
o Affiliation with Industry Groups
o Membership in local Chamber
Your plan doesn't have to be complicated, but you do need a road map for where you're headed during the year. Set your goals, pick your tactics and populate your calendar. As you start evaluating the results, increase the use of your most successful tactics. Just be sure to continue consulting your plan and adjust as needed throughout the year. Nothing is cast in stone and plans can be altered as the year progresses, but starting with a plan is absolutely essential.
Here are some ideas for you to consider for keeping yourself in front of your customers:
Hold a Sale
January has always been a great time for post holiday sales. Why not gather up merchandise that didn't sell at the holidays and have a sale? If you'd like to know how well your promotional efforts are working, advertise your sale with direct mail and offer a discount if your customer brings in the mailer. Then you will be able to measure the effectiveness of your direct mail campaign.
Offer New Products & Services
Perhaps you have a new product or service you are offering or improvements to an existing program. What better time to begin offering them then in a brand new year? A colorful mailer with a special offer is an excellent way to introduce your new offerings. Your mailers will perform in direct proportion to how well you offer something of interest to the recipient. Most people are interested in knowing what you can do for them. Be sure to give them the benefits of your new offerings.
Create A Loyalty Program
Every business depends upon a large group of loyal customers who keep coming back day after day, year after year. A loyalty program is a great way to reward your best customers and encourage them to keep doing business with you. Here are some ideas for starting your own loyalty program:
- A card that you mark or punch every time the customer visits. After a certain number of visits the customer receives a benefit.
- Reward levels for a certain dollar amount spent with your company. Rewards can be discounts on future purchases, free items or cash back.
- Membership in an elite group after a set number of purchases.
- Special private events for customers who join your Loyalty or Rewards Program.
Plan An Event
Events are another means of keeping yourself in front of your customers. Art galleries regularly hold "showings" where a particular artist is featured, often with the artist present. Refreshments or cocktails might be offered. This draws in present and potentially new customers. If you sell clothing, an in-store fashion show could be a fantastic event. Even if you're a home improvement contractor, hold a "show" of your own where you display products, services and previous work.
Remember, whatever you do, be sure there is something in it for the customer. The event itself offers the opportunity to see products and services. Enhance the experience for your customer by offering a gift, a discount or something else of value. Always ask yourself if this is something you would want if someone invited you? If not, what would it take to make you want to go? If it wouldn't excite you, it's not likely to attract your customers and prospects either.
Hopefully these ideas have given you something to think about for the New Year. Jot down some additional thoughts of your own and plan to get your business off to a fast and profitable start.