New year planning: How to get a great start on 2019

6 min read
John Jantsch

When it comes to your marketing objectives, strategies or tactics, it is never a bad time to start new year planning. But let’s face it — the earlier you start planning, the better. The smart marketer starts work on their new year plan while summer is fading and the holiday shopping season draws near. Haven’t started yet? Don’t fret. Just get to it!

With a new year come the same old challenges of drawing in customers and getting people to interact with your brand.

The majority of your plan will take cues from Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) from 2018. However, the concepts for 2019 will take shape as the year closes out.

Key focus areas and tips for new year planning

Next year will be less about advertising and more about knowing your customer. It will be about a conversation with more listening than talking. Plan for a prosperous new year by looking at the following factors and keeping these tips in mind:

  1. Your business machine.
  2. Website traffic and accounts.
  3. Plan by quarter.
  4. Set fewer goals.
  5. Talk to your customers.
  6. Establish a communication plan.
  7. Stay relevant with conversation, reviews and word-of-mouth.

Let’s dig in.

Your business machine

Businesses looking to capitalize on a decent head start can begin by examining their current infrastructure and operations. Re-evaluate the customer-facing parts of your business and then have a good look at the back end.

  • How are you set up in terms of tools and software?
  • Could you use any changes to the processes that are currently in place?

Look for pain points in your operations and have a look at some new tools and innovations that may benefit next year’s bottom line by either saving you costs or generating more sales.

Every year sees new innovations that help business owners like you.

It’s an excellent idea to get online and do some research that could lead to an upgrade or two before the new year.

Website traffic and accounts

There is never a wrong time to check your search engine optimization (SEO) and web traffic.

You can start making adjustments and optimizing now for results that will show in early 2019 or even sooner. Also, since you are already on the web, have a look at the expiration of any accounts or certificates you may have.

You will thank yourself when your website does not go down, or accounts are not interrupted in early 2019.

Plan by quarter

Regardless of what sort of business you have, it only makes sense to plan your marketing strategies by quarter.

By placing your campaigns and programs in three-month chunks, you will benefit from having more time to raise the quality of your campaigns while leaving enough room to make adjustments along the way.

It will be this agile approach that will make for a much more manageable year that also produces more favourable results.

Set fewer goals

Many businesses try to pack in too many goals within a given year. It is good to set goals, not to be misunderstood, but too many goals can be a recipe for failure if you are not careful. In today’s landscape, nearly everything moves faster. The causality for this is that we not only consume information at an accelerated rate, but we also demand that accelerated results come with it.

With the sheer breadth of knowledge at our fingertips, it becomes essential to prioritize and focus more to succeed.

You will find that there are two things you’ll need to avoid in 2019: Cutting too closely to a fixed plan and attempting to do too much at once.

It’s far better to be selective about fewer goals per quarter and to place more resources and focus on exceeding those few goals rather than attempting to meet too many at once.

Talk to your customers

It should go without saying that the lifeblood of your business is, and always will be, your customers. Every person that interacts with your brand — be it on your website, social media or the old-fashioned way by setting foot in your store — is an opportunity to grow your business.

The catch is that you need to talk to them.

They need to tell you what they know about and want from your business, and you need to listen. Ask meaningful questions like:

  • What can we do better?
  • Were there any pain points during your time with our brand?
  • Was making a purchase on our website a frictionless experience?

Through this conversation, you will find out what is working and what isn’t.

The insights you will gain during this process are invaluable.

It is a roadmap to fine-tuning operations and a path to increased profitability. The conversation is not going to be one-sided, however. While you have their ear, this is your chance to tell your customer about what is going on with your business. Are you launching a new product in 2019 or are there changes in your industry happening in the coming year? Let them know now and gain an understanding of the needs and wants of your customers.

You can learn more about surveying your customers in this guide.

Establish a communication plan

If you haven’t got a communication plan in play already, then let this be the year you start. There is an array of ways to engage your customers, but without a good plan and the means to act on their feedback, it won’t do you much good. The channels that are available to you can all be linked.

For example, your social media post on Facebook could connect to a post in your blog; your blog post may have a call-to-action to your website; and your site will have a sign up for your email program that includes valued content and links throughout your website, to your blog and to your Facebook page.

A great communication plan will have your customers engaged in conversation about your brand right in front of you.

They will talk to you directly through social media and comments in your blog posts. The great thing is that you can respond in kind and assure them that you are doing everything possible to meet their needs. The opportunities here are almost unlimited — but remember a communication plan is not conceived overnight.

Stay relevant with conversation, reviews and word-of-mouth

Lastly, in 2019, people are putting more trust in others they know and in reputable content, not ads. Conversation, reviews and word-of-mouth are the way to stay relevant in the new year.

Helpfulness and authenticity will temper a world of tech and automation.

If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start planning for a profitable year ahead.