David is a best-selling author, speaker and trainer. He is also CEO of IPD, a world-class marketing agency based in Tampa, Florida.
“Finish strong.” You’ve probably heard this phrase countless times. You’ve heard it if you’ve ever played sports. You’ve heard it in meetings. You’ve heard countless motivational speakers say it. But if you want to finish strong, it helps by starting fast. In my experience, if you find yourself stumbling out of the gate, then you’ll spend most of your time trying to gain your footing. This is true for any race, competition and, if you’re a marketer, any day, week, month or year.
The end of the year and the start of the new is one of the busiest and most stressful times for marketers and salespeople alike. Prospects and clients are focused on what they still have left to do for the holidays. Trips and dinners are being planned, and flights and hotels are being booked.
Presents. Bills. Work. Vacations. All of these things make the end of the year a nightmare for so many companies. People are strapped for cash, and marketers and salespeople are busy following up with prospects, trying to make something happen before the ball drops — literally. Many struggle to finish strong because they started the year with a crawl instead of a sprint. I have found it to be true time and again that a slow January and February will come back to bite you in November and December. It happens. It’s happened to me. It probably will happen again.
But in my time as a business owner, I have found several methods that can minimize the chances of a slow start and maximize the chances of a strong finish. We know there are no guarantees in sales, but there are protocols that can be taken to minimize the end-of-the-year slump, and they start with what you do at the beginning of the year.
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Here are five quick tips and methods to use to help maximize your beginning-of-the-year results, so you won’t have to scramble at the end of the year:
Pick a goal. What is your main goal for the new year? Do you want to grow your social reach? Do you want to add to a new or existing email list? Are you focusing on lead generation? Whatever your goal is, you must declare it and ensure that your team understands the major goal for the year as well as how to reach that goal. Your goal is your compass. It is crucial in order to know which direction your organization needs to go. Pick a goal and make sure that you stick to it!
Follow up with holiday leads. This rings true for nearly every organization in nearly every industry. The holidays are massive for everyone — from car dealerships and retail to restaurants and tech. The holidays are filled with consumers who want to buy — and want to buy immediately. As such, holiday deals and savings are commonplace. Black Friday, Christmas and New Year’s sales events are everywhere, but what do you do with those consumers who show interest initially but fall through the cracks? Do you have processes set in place to reach out to these prospects? A simple email letting them know that deals are still available to them gives them front-of-mind awareness, as well as adds a personal touch to the conversation. Don’t write off potential customers too soon — they may have simply gotten caught up in the holiday season.
Focus on your wins. Whether the previous year went well or not, you have to focus on the wins within it. This is mostly a tip for internal use. If your team is happy about how the previous year ended, then great! Ride that wave of success and excitement into the new year. If they are discouraged, however, you will need to present the great things that were accomplished in the midst of the previous year. Meet with your team to go over the wins. This will lead to better morale, which, in turn, leads to better results. The best part about the end of the year? None of it matters. It’s a new year, and the actions taken right now will determine how it pans out. Let the past die so the new year can grow.
Launch a new product. The start of the year is a great time to launch a new product or service that you may have been working on. What are some new, innovative things that you can offer clients this new year? The new year is a great transition to discuss newly released or upcoming products and services with both existing clients as well as prospects. If you’ve been waiting for the right time to unveil your new project, January or even February is a great time to do so.
Grow your social media. Growing your social media reach will be a major goal for some and a minor goal for many, but it should be a goal for all. Digital marketing in this day and age means marketing on social media. This is the new norm, and those who resist this will be beaten out by their competition. If you haven’t made social media a real focus, then it is time to do so. On the contrary, if you already know the importance of using social media for marketing, continue to do so. The new year is a great time to reach out and interact with followers. Posting about what you’re doing in the new year can stir engagement from followers who you often don’t speak with. Remember, engagement is key!
The end of the year can be difficult, but the start of the new year doesn’t have to be. These are five key methods that, through trial and error, I have found to be great ways to kick off the new year and ensure that you finish stronger this year than you did last year. With these methods, you’ll be ready when the starter pistol sounds and the gates open.
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Author: David Villa, Forbes Councils Member