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The phrase “New Year, New Me” tends to be the term that people like to use for self-improvement in the new year. When you run your own business, it will usually top any list of priorities. Christmas may not be here yet, but it’s never too early to start planning your business strategy for the next financial year. Any changes you want to make need to be put in place during the last financial quarter to ensure they are successfully up and running by the new year. Here are some ideas to increase growth and productivity.success

Brand and Branding

Have you got a brand that is unique and recognizable? Is it memorable and pleasing to the eyes? Consistency is key to being recognizable and well known. A color scheme that fits your product themes and an innovative, eye-catching logo can set you apart from industry competition.

While your branding is important to capture attention, what keeps them coming back is your personal brand. Your brand is not your logo; it is what people say about you when you leave the room. It is the reputation of both you and your business. When people talk about your business, what do they say? Most people will talk about something if it is really good or really bad.

Of course, you want your business to be discussed for being exceptional. You can achieve this by having integrity, reliability, efficiency and outstanding customer service. Have a plan for how you and your business will achieve each of these. Don’t just think it – write it out and have the plan as a constant focus point for you and your team. A reliable brand will ensure future success for your business.

Invest in Marketing

Marketing is a surefire way of gaining recognition for your brand and business. There are multiple ways of advertising – some pricey and some free. However, you cannot put a price on a successful investment, as it will help your business to grow.  Having multiple sources of advertisement will make it possible to reach the widest range of potential customers. Business cards, posters, promotional videos, radio adverts, social media (more detail below) – the possibilities are genuinely endless. It is important to think about who your customer base is and what’s most likely to make your customers respond. Having a marketing strategy in place means you have fully considered your product in relation to your customer and know exactly how to sell yourself.  

If you are just starting out marketing for your business, it helps if you have a multi-faceted approach. In order to keep track of which approach is most successful, try asking customers for feedback on services and their experience with you. This will help you streamline your approach, thereby saving valuable resources.

Improve Efficiency

Efficiency is extremely important and goes hand in hand with your brand. It is the time between a customer deciding what they want and them actually receiving it – a period you want to be a short as possible. It is your business getting the most done with the least amount of effort; maximizing your productivity within a given time. We are in a technology-driven age. Unfortunately, people can make mistakes, but good quality software and technology does not. Companies like Briostack have pest control routing software that specifically caters to the pest control business.

Is there something similar on the market for your business? Bespoke software may seem like a pricey option but will optimize your efficiency in the best way possible for your particular market.

Do You Need to Diversify or Specify Your Product?

light bulbTwo sides of the same coin are supply and demand. Do you operate in a niche market that struggles to maintain customers? Do people have a clear knowledge of what you offer? Are there new technologies and products competing with yours? If so, it might be time to diversify. A coffee shop doesn’t just sell coffee – customers also like a sandwich and a slice of cake. Products that complement each other increase your sale average per customer. 

(Source) Alternatively, you may be offering too much. Choice is great but too much can be overwhelming and suggest a lack of product focus. When your shower breaks, do you call a plumber or a handyman? Know your strengths and play to them. Dominate your chosen field by being the go-to person. Having appropriate buzzwords and brand specificity can bump you to the top of any Google search.

Social Media

If your business does not use social media, it is time to think about updating. Social media is the 21st-century version of “word of mouth” with the added benefit of travelling quicker and reaching more people. If you have strong branding, getting on to as many social media platforms as possible could increase interest and revenue.

Social media is also a good way for advertising any promotions you have and for connecting personally with customers to create a loyal following. Platforms such as Facebook and Youtube will keep track of how many people are visiting your pages daily and give you the option of talking through private message or comments. This interaction allows you to cater to your customers’ needs and create a successful customer experience.

Reward Schemes

Reward schemes are a great way to ensure loyalty and they don’t have to offer the world. Having certain discounts that are only available to loyal members – or a stamp card which gives you a certain amount off on a particular amount of visits – will encourage return customers. Loyal customers are important for advertising as they will be at the forefront of word-of-mouth advertising, reviews and positive recommendations.  

When looking at improvement in a short space of time, it is important to not get overwhelmed. Make a prioritized list, using the examples given above, of where you could improve most and work through each task one by one. Stick to a budget and a timetable to ensure you are not stretching your time or finances. Most importantl,y enjoy your journey towards a successful 2018.