13 January 2010

The 2010 New Year Checklist for Your Business

Every year here at H2L Online Marketing we make it a point to come up with a list of 10 things you need to be thinking about in the new year. They may be related to marketing, or running your business overall, and they’re usually something we relate to things we have to do in our own business.
1. Use “Cause Marketing”This is the year that you should identify your business with a worthy cause and either donate a percentage of profits to it or contribute to it in some way. And if profits or hard cash don’t fit, consider donating employee time. Then in your marketing campaigns, your marketing materials and sales pitches you should talk about what you’re doing and why it’s important to you. Your prospects and customers increasingly want to do business with a business that cares and has moral obligations, and they’re looking for you to let them know how you fit the bill.
2. Use Social Media with Email Marketing - Finally get your act together with social media this year. Start with Twitter and Facebook, dont forget as part of our SEO service we do this for you. Then set your goals on how many Twitter followers your business will get or how many Facebook fans you’ll attract. Make sure you tell your email marketing recipients to follow you when you send out a campaign. And don’t forget to post your links to your email campaigns in your Twitter account and Facebook pages and ask people to join your email list. All of these marketing vehicles work really well together and feed off of each other. 3. Think SEO Make a point of checking your SEO ranking with EVERY piece of content you add to your site, Think position, think search when writing articles or content for your site. H2L offers content writing for SEO at a very affordable rate.
4. Make This the Year of Customer Service - People talk about companies that listen to them and that treat them well so you’ll want to go above and beyond with customer service this year. This is especially true since companies like Facebook and Twitter are taking off and becoming a platform for people to tell the world how they feel…about you. This might be the year you get your customer data all in one place so it’s easy to find a customer when they call. 
5. Cut Costs - Keep cutting costs because we’re still in the economic weeds. Look at your top spending categories and see if there’s money to be saved. Is your rent too high? If you’ve got a number of years left on it you might call your landlord and ask if you can renegotiate “stepped” payments. Ask for a discount this year and tell them in the future years you’re willing to pay at bit more per square foot. If you’re spending too much on shipping, start calling other providers to see if they’re competitive. Doing things like this in January will add up for the rest of the year and help you to profitability.
6. Listen to Your Customers - Listen and watch what your customers are saying about you. Sign up for Google Alerts with your company name as a keyword, but also with your competitor’s names so you can see what is being published about them as well. Sign up for a free TweetDeck account and do the same. You’ll see what people on Twitter are saying about your company, your competition and even your industry, up-to-the minute for an unlimited number of keywords. Then chime in to the conversation and address the issue or try to get a new customer. Word to the wise: make sure you’re transparent with who you are, you don’t want to “hide” as someone else, tell them you’re with your company and you want to help out or answer any questions.
7. Find New Customers, Inexpensively - Google is where people go these days to find businesses they’re looking for. So set up or build on your Google Adwords pay-per-click efforts. If you don’t know where to start with Google try our PPC service, we manage your account through our Google Professional account.
8. Build Your Email List - Offer your clients a free sign up on your site to your monthly newsletter.
9. Hire People Who CareIf you’re lucky enough to be hiring for your business, this should be the year where you have an ample choice of people who need to work to choose from, so it’s your pick. Make sure you select people who have the same passion as you do, and people that fit into your business culture like a glove. Make sure you ask the questions that count; you want someone who can handle situations, someone who can communicate and someone who you trust. Don’t settle for second best, your customers will notice.
10. Embrace Word of MouthAt H2L Online Marketing over 50% of the people who sign up for our service hear about  us through “Word of Mouth” . In 2010 you’ll really need to take a good look at what you’re doing to spur word of mouth. As noted here, customer service is important, the quality of your product or service is important and the entire customer experience is important in order for word of mouth to start. 
2010 is poised to be a great year for growing your small business. Good luck with your venture, and remember we are here to help.

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