The new year is the ideal time to take stock of some of your existing strategies, procedures, and approaches to determine what is still working for your brand—and what needs to be changed in the coming year. Reviewing your approach to delegation and automation, security, and your network, and even your employee satisfaction levels help ensure you have the best possible 2017 and positions you for optimal growth in the coming year. This year, resolve to review the following and make changes or refresh your approach as needed.
Resolve to Invest in Automation
Automating mundane tasks saves you money and time—and helps conserve your most valuable resources, too. When you are constantly handling the same several tasks over and over again, you’re using up your valuable attention and creativity on something that is needed, but not particularly interesting or rewarding. It is easier than ever to automate parts of your sales funnel, customer journey, or even your billing and invoicing. Opting to automate the tasks through programs like Infusionsoft, Hubspot, and Eloqua, frees up more productive time and allows you to focus on what you do best—running your business.
“With marketing automation, marketers engage customers with tailored content based on their profile data and purchasing behavior,” explains Moosa Hemani, owner of SETalks.com, a company specializing in inbound marketing and SEO. “The more personalized content your lead receives, the more time they will spend on your site. This leads to a collection of valuable data that can help you convert the leads into customers— and of course, future cross-selling.”
Resolve to Be Proactive about Security
Your data and network are at more of a risk than ever before, and attacks can come from virtually anywhere in the world. Taking a proactive approach to protect your network now can save you hours in downtime and lost productivity later. Some key infiltration techniques that you need to be aware of in 2017 include the following:
- Ransomware: Constantly evolving, these insidious forms of malware hold your files hostage until you pay a hefty ransom, usually in Bitcoin.
- Phishing: A single email could put your entire business at risk. Make sure employees understand the risks of opening attachments and even photos.
- Poorly Chosen Passwords: How tough are your passwords, really? If they contain the word “password,” it’s time for an update. Displaying the password on the keyboard or monitor is also an issue that could put your business at risk. The wrong password makes it easy for a hacker to target you.
Resolve to Evaluate your Network
Changes are coming to your computers and workstations, whether you are ready for them or not. Taking a proactive approach is a must if you use older or outdated systems. Microsoft is actually ending support for some versions of windows and office this year, so outdated systems will suffer.
“The move is likely to hit businesses the hardest,” says Nick Heath of Tech Republic. “Firms are often slower than consumers to move to new operating systems, due to the complexity of managing upgrades at scale and ensuring compatibility with legacy software.”
If you have not looked at your network, including hardware and software and come up with a plan for replacement, you could miss out in the new year. Proactive maintenance and an idea of when you’ll need to replace your systems allow you to budget properly and to avoid costly downtime as well.
Resolve to Take a Fresh Look at your Customer
How fresh is your buyer persona? If it lists a “tech savvy” personality who is still using a BlackBerry or iPhone 4, it’s time to take a new look. If you have not revisited your buyer persona in the last 12 months and are still working from your legacy version, it may be time for a fresh look. Perspectives change and so do trends and technologies, making sure your marketing is properly targeted will ensure you reach your ROI goals for 2017.
Resolve to Invest in Employee Satisfaction
Turnover can cost you a fortune, particularly if you lose a highly trained or skilled employee. Some HR pros put the cost of replacing an employee as high as 60 percent of that worker’s annual salary, making employee retention a must if you want to improve your bottom line. Satisfaction is about more than salary. Survey your team to find out what matters most to them and you’ll have a better idea of what makes your workforce happy. Improving your culture and offering your team more of what they like, whether it is training, opportunities for advancement, or just better coffee in the breakroom can pay off when it comes to retention in 2017 and beyond.
“Frankly, nearly anything that creates more face time between your employees and gets them out of their own heads—and away from their computer monitors—can help create a workplace that crackles with enthusiasm and atmosphere, and which encourages dialogue, understanding, and cooperation,” explains William Craig, contributor at Forbes Magazine. “No man or woman is an island—and a company full of islands won’t be long for this world.”
Resolve to Delegate
Are you still running your business like a solo entrepreneur? It may be time to delegate more tasks so you can focus on growth and strategy. If you have a team and are not fully utilizing them, it’s time to take a fresh look at your responsibilities and what you can pass on to others.
Resolve to Get Real about Social Media
How many times did you tweet, post or pin in 2016 and can you track the reach and influence you had on your online network? If the number is very low or you can’t remember the last time you shared anything, dedicate at least part of 2017 to harnessing the power of social media. Whether you commit to growing your brand on one key channel or expand your reach to a whole new audience on a different site, mindfully focusing on your social media goals and plan can help you grow in 2017.
Resolve to Refresh your Marketing
Do you need a fresh approach? Methods that worked when you were starting out may be outdated now, particularly if your site, materials, or marketing approach are from 1999. A careful audit of your materials can help ensure you are projecting the image you truly want to for your brand in 2017. Sometimes less is more, so don’t be afraid to retire some of that collateral that you’ve been using for years.
Taking stock of your existing efforts and making plans for strategic growth in 2017 can help you make the most of the fresh start each new year brings.