For many small businesses, the end of the year is the last big push for revenue to close out the year. If you've built a great marketing plan and stuck to it for most of the year, than you're probably reaping the rewards that come from staying in touch with your target audience and providing opportunities for them to take advantage of your products and services. If you don't feel like you're ending the year on a high note, than it's time to take a critical look at your marketing efforts to find out what went right or wrong.
Just as you review your finances before you do taxes, you should also review your marketing before creating a stronger plan for the year ahead. Here are some questions to help you critically evaluate your marketing efforts from the last year:
- What forms of direct marketing were used this year (email, mail, text, calls)?
- How many clients and potential clients were added to email and/or mailing list this year?
- How often was list informed of new products, sales, specials, or awards?
- How was additional value provided to clients through mailings (tips, education, reviews)?
- Where are potential clients able to subscribe or sign up for direct email/mail?
- Which direct marketing efforts performed the best and worst based on the desired outcome?
- How many visitors did the website receive daily/weekly/monthly/annually?
- According to the stats, what are the most popular pages or posts on the website?
- What are the website's search engine rankings for the business name and desired keywords?
- What are the top ten actual search engine keywords driving traffic to the website?
- What are the top ten inbound links referring traffic to the website?
- How many inquiries were received through the website this year?
- How many subscribers were added to website/blog RSS/reader feeds?
- How frequently was the website updated with new products or information?
- How many new subscribers were received on social media feeds? (Itemize each one: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, or any other relevant and active social media outlets.)
- How frequently were social media feeds being updated (itemize each one)?
- How do the social media outlets rank based on most and least interaction with subscribers?
- Which ten updates received the most attention (likes, retweets, views, click-throughs)?
- Which social media platforms drive the most traffic to business website?
- What types of affiliate/partner marketing were utilized this year (groupon, charity or gift donations, guest articles/interviews/features, link sharing, promotions for/with related businesses, directory listings, professional organization memberships, etc.)?
- What is the approximate audience reach for each affiliate or partner?
- How did partnerships rank based on most and least beneficial for reaching target audience?
- Which efforts were most effective toward generating new leads?
- What forms of advertising were utilized this year (blog ads, google ads, facebook ads, radio, TV, magazine ads, billboards, newsletter ads, brochures, postcards, etc.)?
- What was the approximate audience reach for each advertisement?
- Which ads resulted in the most measurable increase in traffic or leads?
Person to Person Marketing:
- What networking events were attended?
- What promotional events, trade shows, or markets did business participate in?
- How many workshops, demonstrations, events, and/or presentations did business host?
- How many new client and industry contacts were received from each event?
- How many business cards and/or samples were given at each event?
- What methods were most effective for capturing new lead information?
- What percentage of new contacts turned into follow-up business?
Please note that this list is not to suggest that you should be engaged in all of these marketing efforts- the smartest strategy is to do what works best for your business and your target audience. However, if you find that your current marketing strategies are not generating enough leads, than you may want to consider the other opportunities that you have to generate new leads and expand awareness of your brand.
Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography in 2004 as an independent small business. She loves helping others find creative and smart solutions to business problems. Follow her on Twitter to see her daily adventures and thoughts.