As a new year and decade are upon us, I have been reflecting on what is important to do to start the year off on the right foot. You could make sure that you have a social media strategy for your company or at least are monitoring what is happening with social media in the industrial space. Or you could focus on how to improve your company’s web site. Another area of attention could be which markets are recovering faster than others and is your marketing strategy aligned with these trends.
There are certainly many things we should be doing to insure a successful start to the New Year, but I think the most important is taking the pulse of your industry. Whether you’ve been in your field for an eternity or just a year, get some feedback on the marketplace. Make sure what you think you know remains true or if an adjustment is needed.
Start with your internal customers first. Seek out sales management and your best front line sales people and customer service representatives. Ask them why customers buy your products and services. Ask them what they hear from customers – the good and the bad. Ask what has worked best for them in attracting new sales and keeping existing customers and what isn’t working anymore.
Review the competition. Take a look at what your competition is doing, how they are positioning their products and services, and where they are advertising. Their Web site is a great place to start for insight into the direction the company is headed. Look for answers to these questions: what do they have that you don’t and how do they differentiate from your company?
Most importantly, talk to some customers. Put together some interview questions and call a few customers. Ask them why they bought and what they like and don’t like about your company. Get their take on 2010 and the economy – how it will impact their company and where they see spending occurring. Find out what major initiatives are in place for 2010 and what technology trends they see impacting their business. Also ask them to name who they see as your competition and give an assessment of the competition.
It doesn’t take any money to do these activities and the time commitment is minimal as well. The input you receive will:
- Confirm whether or not your current marketing is on point and whether or not your 2010 strategy needs adjusting
- Uncover any potential issues you may have with your products, service and marketing
If you uncover major issues you may need to spend money for formal market research but do this first. A strong understanding of your customer base is the best foundation for any marketing plan.
Please share any tips you have for a successful start to the New Year.