Now as 2020 is officially underway it’s the optimal time to look back over the past year and assess what did and didn’t work. This is a crucial part of business growth; giving you the ability to successfully move forward. However, you should take this a step further and investigate why something worked so well, or why something failed. To succeed you must be adaptive and reactive and to be those things you must understand the bigger picture.
You don’t have to be a professional strategist to carry out an assessment of your business. The best place to start is by writing down your overall thoughts on the previous year. You can do this casually as if someone has asked you, ‘how was business last year?’ You just need to get a good feel for where your business is at and whether it met your expectations for 2019. Once you’ve done this you should start by listing your top projects/clients/sales/campaigns of the year. Depending on the nature of your organization and the frequency of projects, this could be your top three campaigns, or your top 20.
Don’t Shy Away from the Numbers
Looking at the finances can sometimes feel like a mission, but as business owners, it’s a crucial part of planning. Once again, start with the basics, were you up, down or flat for the year? What does your average order size look like? What products are selling and which products are not?
After you’ve got this basic level of understanding, look to the specifics. Are there any trends? Specific types of customers? Specific times of year that are better than others? Throughout this process, you must always ask ‘why’. We have to keep asking why, until we are sure we understand all the numbers. The “why” is often much more telling than the “what”…
The next step is to list your core competencies, any type of skill or resource that gives you a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Take this further still and list only those areas that allow for a SUSTAINABLE strategic advantage. Can your current core competencies stand the test of time? If not can you evolve and develop them as your business grows. Should this be part of your 2020 plan?
What do you have in the pipeline so far in terms of primary offerings? A timeline can be a useful way to map out any campaigns or focuses throughout the year. If you find this too overwhelming or you’re a smaller business you might prefer to break this down into quarters and focus just on the next 3 months only. The main things you need to know are how you intend to split and use a budget, plus the timing of each element.
Of course, you must then plan for how you intend to get attention to your primary offerings. Don’t be fooled by thinking just because you have the best offer customers will flock to you organically. A great marketing campaign can pull customers to competitor offers if it makes things more convenient or delivers a harder-hitting message. Don’t simply hope that customers will find you by ‘word of mouth’. Help them to discover your brand.
Sales will always improve with regular customer contact. It helps to ensure you stay the brand in mind when customers are ready to purchase. This is why there is a lot of power in building brand awareness, weeks, months or even years before an intended purchase. People might not always respond to every offer you send right there and then. You often reap the rewards longterm from brand awareness campaigns.