Well, here we are… at the start of another calendar year. [By the way, Happy New Year to you and yours!] And like most years, with our annual New Year’s Resolutions, we think about what we can do to improve our lives – both personally and professionally – in the coming months. I’ll leave the ‘lose weight’ and ‘quit smoking’ type of resolutions to you and focus this post on a few things related to your business.
Since 99.99% of us want to grow our business in 2018, I want to suggest a different way to go about creating your resolutions… one that can truly have an impact on the growth of your firm: start by fixing your problems!
If you’re not achieving your revenue goals (and even if you are, but want to reach even higher), you need to work through your problems first. And there are six of them to think about…
Problem 1: Not enough potential clients know who we are.
Possible resolution: “In 2018, we will implement those things that can help us build awareness in the markets we serve.”
For example, you can advertise in the right publications or on the right websites, exhibit and/or network at the right conferences, get active on LinkedIn (connect with more people and engage in the groups), work on SEO for your website, test pay-per-click advertising, etc.
Problem 2: We’re awfully similar to our competitors.
Possible resolution: “In 2018, we will develop a clear POD – Point of Differentiation – and then use that as the focus of our marketing messaging.”
The top 4 ways to differentiate your business that you might consider are:
- Establish and build expertise in a certain vertical industry – automotive, healthcare, technology, etc.
- Become the go-to firm for a certain type of research methodology – online qualitative, ethnographies, mobile surveys, etc.
- Specialize in a certain research application – new product development, patient satisfaction, shopper studies, etc.
- Develop a reputation in a particular market segment – Hispanics, Women, Children, Physicians, etc.
Problem 3: Our sales pipeline is empty.
Possible resolution: “In 2018, we will invest in those things that can help us to generate sales leads.”
This could include developing ‘gated’ content (eBooks, white papers) that prospects download, starting a webinar series, networking and/or exhibiting at more conferences, speaking at a conference, etc.
Problem 4: We’re bad at staying in touch with prospective clients.
Possible resolution: “In 2018, we will implement those things that can help us to nurture sales leads (as well as all of the potential client contacts in our database).”
This could include developing and sending out an e-newsletter (helpful, not salesy) on a consistent basis, blocking off a little time each week to pick up the phone and chat with prospects, being very active on social media so prospects see you frequently, etc.
Problem 5: We’re losing out on a lot of bids for first-time clients.
Possible resolution: “In 2018, we will do those things that can help convince a new prospect to ‘take a chance’ with us and become a first-time client.”
This includes enhancing your capabilities presentation and bid package (lessen the ‘what we do’ and enhance the ‘problems we solve’), creating a number of case studies, putting client testimonials on your website, offering some sort of ‘incentive’ to first-time clients, etc.
Problem 6: Not enough clients keep coming back to us.
Possible resolution: “In 2018, we will consistently implement those things that can help us ensure repeat business.”
This includes reviewing and improving your entire operations process (you’ve got to make sure that your work is top-notch), developing a communications program (email, social media, phone calls) to keep your firm top-of-mind between projects, developing some sort of volume incentive program to encourage repeat clients, etc.
Your New Year’s Resolutions – which is another way of saying ‘your goals for the new year’ – need to result in a level of real activity to be helpful. By starting with ‘problem solving,’ you’re laying the foundation for that actionability. Without these tangible steps, your resolutions are simply ‘wishes’ that will be forgotten by Valentine’s Day.