I love the feeling of a fresh, new year. It’s like buying a new notebook or diary, before the pages get dog-eared and it gets relegated to the dark depths of your handbag. As I write this, I’m sitting on a train heading to Rome, reflecting on the fact that I actually made one of last year’s resolutions come true – I made my business location independent. This was a huge achievement for me and, for a brief moment, I contemplated resting back on my laurels and accepting that nothing could top this.
But, I can’t sit still for long. In fact, taking 2 weeks off over Christmas has left me a little itchy to get back to the “hustle”. So, here I am, contemplating what resolutions I’ll make this year. Naturally, I’ll make it to more F45 sessions, do more yoga, drink less coffee, limit my wine intake, eat more fermented foods, drink more bone broth… Did I forget anything?
Oh yeah – my business.
Hands up if you also got so caught up in setting your own, personal resolutions, that you actually forgot to set some for your business.
To help get those little sparks of inspiration flying, here are some business resolutions you can set for 2018. Ok, fine, they’re more marketing resolutions – but would you expect anything else from me?!
1. Thou shalt not be afraid to try new things (and pivot quickly if they don’t work)
You’d think this one would come naturally to most entrepreneurs; I mean, you didn’t exactly start a business so you could stay in your comfort zone, did you?
Yet, so many business owners get stuck in their routine and are afraid to try anything new – new systems, new apps, new ways to find customers and clients.
As a start-up (or small business or side hustle or whatever you like to call yourself), you’re in the very fortunate position of being able to act quickly. Remember that little rhyme, “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick”? Your business is Jack. Assuming you don’t have investors or shareholders to answer to (yet!), you can test something without needing three approvals, two budget sign-offs and five shareholder meetings.
2. Thou shalt view failure as a learning opportunity
When you’re testing all the new and exciting things you’re going to try this year, remember that not all of them will work out. Not only is failure totally fine, it’s actually necessary for you to learn and grow as a business owner.
Failure is a great way to learn. In fact, you’ve only truly failed if you haven’t learnt anything.
Essentially, what I’m trying to say is this: Stop letting the fear of failure guide your business decisions. The glossy pages of Instagram might make it seem like everyone else is smoothly gliding to the top, sans the slightest misstep. But, it pays to remember that this is only a highlight reel and that even the biggest names in entrepreneurship have had their share of setbacks.
3. Thou shalt focus on connection
If you’re still asking “how can I grow my Instagram following?” then you’re asking the wrong question.
The question you should be asking is this: How can I build a connection with my target audience?
How can you get them to know, love and trust you enough to hand over that magical little piece of plastic and buy from you?
It’s harder than you think – especially in the impersonal world that is the internets.
Take, for example, the quiet, coastal Tuscan town I’ve just spent the last 10 days in. Inside every restaurant, the owner is out and about, talking to his customers. He’s there to kiss his regular visitors on both cheeks when they walk through the door and will gladly talk to you about his food for half an hour. His customers feel welcomed and valued, and they’ll happily visit again.
Instead of focussing on vanity metrics (like follower count), think about how you can make anyone who comes into contact with your brand feel valued. Whether it’s sharing your story with others or simply taking the time to reach out to your customers and talk to them one-on-one, 2018 will be the year you build that connection with your audience.
4. Thou shalt focus on providing value
(A.k.a. Not being afraid to give stuff away for free).
It seems counterintuitive, right? You want people to pay you with actual money (because Telstra doesn’t accept payments in Monopoly money yet), so why would you give stuff away for free?
Because I said so.
But also because it helps your potential customer get to know, love and trust you. It gets them thinking, “if they’re giving away such epic stuff for free, their paid stuff must be ahhhhmazing”. Naturally, this only works if your paid stuff is ahhhhmazing.
If your business sells a physical product, I don’t mean you should your products away for free. Unless you’re doing a free + shipping campaign – but that’s a whole blog post in itself. What I mean is this: Think of other ways you can provide value to your real customer. What problems can you solve for them? How can you make their life easier?
If you’re totally stuck on that last question, that’s okay. It’s probably because you haven’t yet read the resolution below.
5. Thou shalt actually talk to thou’s target audience
It’s so much fun playing the guessing game called “what does my ideal customer or client want?”
Do they prefer pink? Do they laugh at your hilarious Instagram quotes?
Or, the big question… Do they actually want what you’re selling them?
You need to get out there and ask.
But, do not ask your family and friends – even if they’re in your target audience. They’ll be too afraid to say anything negative (or even constructive) for fear of ruining your relationship.
So, what should you actually ask your target audience?
Ask them what problems they need help solving. Ask them whether the problem your product or service solves is actually a problem in their lives. Ask them what content they’d like to see from you.
Stop guessing and just ask.
6. Thou shalt not spray and pray
If your marketing strategy looks anything like my kitchen when I’ve finished cooking then 2018 is the year to get intentional about what you’re doing.
It doesn’t have to be complicated – even just simply scribbling down a few things on the back of scrap paper is better than nothing.
Firstly, who is your ideal customer? Where do they hang out? There’s little point being on Pinterest if your audience is males aged 25 – 39, so don’t feel like you need to be present everywhere. You’re FAR better off picking 2 or 3 platforms and doing them really bloody well.
Then think about what content you’re going to post. Only posting content that screams something along the lines of “Me! Me! Me! Buy me!” isn’t going to do much. Try to either educate, entertain or inspire your audience in each post, and scatter the occasional salesy post in there.
Each piece of content should have a goal (like, getting them on your email list) that leads to your bigger goal (selling stuff and things). And, don’t just let your content appear once and then put it out to pasture – repurpose it! Turn that blog post into quote graphics for Instagram; turn that vlog into bite-sized snippets of useful video content.
Then, think about how often you’re going to post and try to batch schedule things. Consistency is the key to success, but it’s too easy for life to get in the way. There is always going to be something more important than posting on social media, so you need to make it a priority.
And, because one of my 2018 resolutions was to start using Pinterest a little more often, would you please share the pin below on Pinterest?