Yesterday we closed out 2012; are you really ready for 2013? Do you have a fresh plan of action for 2013? How committed are you to doing what it takes to make your 2013 a rousing success?
After a particularly tough football game, Vice Lombardi, infamous coach of the Green Bay Packers called the team into the locker room and said, “Boys, we are going back to the basics. This is a football.” Do you need to review the basics for your business?
Sometimes as small business owners, we need a refresher on the basics. What did we do when we were ready to start the business in the first place? We looked at the essential elements of a successful start-up as we constructed the business plan: the management team, the products, the marketing and the financial plan.
How solid is your foundation?
Build your business on a solid foundation; pay attention to the structure.
Bottoms Up – Leaders who set the example by supporting their team increase the effectiveness of the entire management team. Do you have the right people on the leadership team? Is each one in their area of highest productivity and skill level? Jim Collins, author of Good to Great reminds us to not only have the right people on the bus, but put them in the right seat. We have all heard of the Peter Principle where people are continually promoted until they are eventually promoted beyond their level of ability.
Reassess the skill level of each key management team member. Strength Finder by Tom Rath helps assess where an individual’s skill and interest are the strongest. If an individual is not in a position which is within their current skill level, they either need a different position or new skills. Once you confirm that you have the right people in the ideal position, the next element is the right product for the company and the marketplace.
Products are Supporting Pillars – Has the market changed and your product remained static? Research the market to determine where the need is currently and how effectively your product meets that need. How can you adjust your product or your marketing message for that product to meet the current demand?
If your market share is slipping, reversing the trend is not an option; it is a necessity. Find out not only what your competition has to offer but how they are packaging and presenting their product. Talk to current customers, your competitor’s customers and your sales force. What do customers really want and how can you change your product or reposition it to meet the demand?
Updating your product may be an option; updating your marketing materials is a continual process.
Wave the Flag – How current are your marketing materials? It’s been how long since you printed new brochures? Refresh the layout and design of your marketing materials at least every two years, preferably every year. Keep your company and products looking fresh and inviting. Does your marketing brochure list your social media sites and a QR code to take customers directly to your order page? Change the paper and presentation of your brochure to give yourself a modern look and feel.
If you say nothing has changed and you don’t need a new brochure, why haven’t you changed something? The marketplace and economic condition constantly change. If nothing new and exciting has changed in your product line or company in a few years, it is past time to make something new happen. How can you expect customers to think of you as new and exciting if you don’t think of yourself as continually responsive to the marketplace?
Learn from great companies. What did they do successfully? What did they test and cancel? Coke introduced “new coke” and then resurrected “original coke.” Wisdom comes from experience; learn from other people’s successes and mistakes. The key factor is that they were willing to step out and test a new idea. In order to keep pace with customer demands, your products, company and company image in your marketing materials must be refreshed.
It’s the Little Things – Appreciation puts the smile into your customer service. Acknowledging staff and customers is essential. Far too frequently an outstanding employee leaves the company feeling unappreciated when only a few words of encouragement and praise could have tipped the scales to encourage them to stay. Customers are the key to success. Just as you do not want to lose a productive employee, you certainly do not want to lose a profitable customer. Your marketing is focused on acquiring customers but it is the customer service and appreciation which retain them. Be generous with your appreciation of employees and customers.
Little gestures can go a long way. Imagine my delight at walking into my office on a snowy cold Michigan morning to find a long stem red rose on my desk with a simple note saying, “So glad you are here.” Another boss would occasionally leave a small “happy present” on my desk. It’s the little gestures which make a difference. Appreciation goes both ways: appreciate your boss.
2013 plans which focus on a fresh look at leadership, products, marketing and appreciation increase success potential. Review the basics, take action and make 2013 an outstanding year.