According to projections from the Congressional Budget Office, the economic surge witnessed in 2018 is expected to carry through 2019, and that means your small business will have opportunities to grow this year. You’ll need more than a thriving economy to increase sales, however, and it all starts with a solid marketing strategy. Get yours in order and propel your small business to new heights with the following 2019 small business marketing checklist.
1. Revisit your branding and USP
When was the last time you gave your branding a makeover? If it’s been more than five years, now is a good time to re-evaluate it. That doesn’t mean making massive changes to your brand identity, but it might mean printing modern letterhead or updating your business cards.
You should also revisit your USP — Unique Selling Proposition. What makes you different and better than your competitors? Does the same USP you developed years ago still hold true? Do you serve the same customer base you thought you would when you started, or has your company evolved into new niches and audiences? If your company has changed, so should your branding and USP.
2. Analyze 2018 and keep what worked
Review your 2018 marketing strategy. Look at what worked, and what didn’t work. Try to identify the why’s: Why was a particular campaign successful and another not so successful? This will go a long way toward helping you develop strong marketing campaigns for 2019.
Did you hit any marketing home runs in 2018? If so, you should duplicate those efforts for 2019. Did you experience marketing failures in 2018? If so, you should try to find out why. Was it the wrong marketing channel, offer or audience? Were you not dedicated to repetition? Can you fix it, or should you scrap that marketing channel?
Over time, keep what works and adjust or purge what doesn’t. This practice will help you become a more efficient marketer and yield better ROI, year-over-year.
3. Study your competitors
See how the competition marketed in 2018. Look for areas in their campaigns to glean insight, like which were successful (for example, campaigns that run every year).
As you study your competitors, ask the following: What tactics can you emulate to boost sales for your small business in 2019? What channels are they using that you haven’t tried? What can you do to position your brand as different and better? By studying your competition, you can spark inspiration for your own winning marketing campaigns in 2019.
4. Try something new
One of the best ways to grow your small business is to consistently test new marketing opportunities. If you haven’t ventured into social media yet, give it a try. If you haven’t advertised in a popular local magazine, now might be the time.
Consider cost-effective ways to keep your branding in front of customers. For example, you can print calendars your audience will reference every day (and even include seasonal offers to drive direct sales) or you can print refrigerator magnets to get your company noticed with every thirst or hunger pang.
Other excellent marketing strategies include direct-mail postcards, outdoor banners, and window clings — if you haven’t tried these, you could be missing out on lucrative opportunities to promote your small business.
5. Set goals and institute measuring mechanisms
Finally, you should set 2019 marketing goals. You might want to increase leads or sales by a set percentage, for example, or boost your response and ROI rates. You might want to land a certain number of new customers or earn repeat sales from a specific audience segment. Whatever your goals are, you should write them down now.
Once you have your goals, identify ways to measure your marketing against those goals. It’s the only way to determine whether your marketing is successful. For example, direct-mail postcards can double as coupons. Fridge magnets can feature discount codes people can use with every order, and calendars can include exclusive monthly offers not found anywhere else.
Though it’s probably not possible to track every single sale — your branding efforts will contribute to sales and some people will simply forget to bring in their coupons — measuring responses and sales will help you identify what is working so you can duplicate successful efforts time and time again.
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