Looking Back and Planning for the Future

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Ah, the end of the year. When we pull out the hot chocolate, cook our favorite family recipes and look forward to time with our loved ones. It is also a great time for evaluation, looking back over what we accomplished – and didn’t – in 2017 so we can plan for the new year. How did that diet go? Did you overcome that fear? Are you pleased with the progress you made on that big project?

While personal reflection is always worthwhile, it is important for you to do the same for your business as well. Now is the perfect time to take a look at your firm or career as a whole, but particularly your marketing successes and frustrations. It is also time to audit your previous and current efforts and create your strategic marketing plan for next year. This is doubly true for my friends in accounting, since you are about to enter the busiest time of the year, but also the time when you have the most opportunity to market your firm.

As you are winding up your year, here are a few things to consider…

Clients: Who are your best clients? Which ones are most profitable and get the maximum benefit from the services you offer? What type of clients do you and your team enjoy working with the most? Are there particular industry niches where you have more expertise or where you thrive more than others? Take a careful look at your client base and answer these and other questions to help you hone in on the types of clients to target in 2018. This way your messaging and marketing will be much more effective and your return on investment will be higher.

Services: What are your primary services and which are the most profitable? Are there services you could package to increase revenue and better meet client needs? Does your website and other marketing materials sufficiently explain what you do and the breadth of your offerings? Do your clients know about all the services you provide? Remember, most clients assume you only do what you do for them and may be going to others for things that you could easily deliver. It might be time for a refresh or refocus.

Differentiators: Do your clients, prospects, referral partners, and even employees, know what makes your firm different than your competition? What do you bring to the table that others don’t or can’t? Can everyone on your team clearly and succinctly communicate these differentiators? This is often one of the biggest challenges professional services firm face, but also one of the most important to overcome.

Competition: Do you know who your real competitors are? Has the competitive landscape changed this year? Do your competitors do things that you’d like to learn from or avoid? Do your clients understand how you are different from others in the market? It is important to understand who is in your sandbox and how you compare to them so you can create messaging and materials that clearly set you apart from other options.

Marketing Efforts: Do you have a strategic marketing plan that takes all of the above (and much more) into account? How effective have your marketing efforts been this year? Does your marketing team (whether internal or outsourced) have the support and direction they need to do a good job? This is a great time of year to conduct a marketing audit to get a handle on how much impact your efforts are having and make adjustments. And if you don’t have a plan, it is definitely time to make that happen!

This is just scratching the surface, but a really solid way to starting 2018 off on the right foot. Think about what you want to achieve and put the plan, processes and people in place to make it happen. And if you need help with any of this, give me a call or send an email. I’d be happy to help in any way I can.

Here’s to a wonderful holiday season to each of you and a successful 2018. Cheers!

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