Try evolution, not revolution, for marketing success in 2018

[Image courtesy of @ccfoodtravel at Flickr Creative Commons]

We’re not even two weeks into the new year, and already my gym is filling up with new faces.  Induction sessions are being ramped up and personal trainers are busier than ever, as people are inspired to finally get fit. 

It won’t last, of course.

By the end of the month, the numbers will already have dropped a little, and by the middle of February normal service will be restored. Only the truly committed will still be running and cycling, lifting and stretching. And of course the regulars like me, many of whom were in the gym early on New Year’s day (it never closes – ever).

Knowing how it ends is one of the reasons I try to avoid making big resolutions – the life-changing ones that look like a mountain to climb. I usually set my sights lower, and am satisfied with a few manageable hills.

So I do make resolutions, but they’re really subsets of bigger ones, so they’re easier to achieve: less time grazing on the day’s news, and more time doing things mindfully. Finish that website design I’ve been tinkering with for months now, when all it needs is a little final push.

Start small, think big

And really, the small resolutions are the best ones, whether it’s getting fit or launching a new marketing campaign. Learning Spanish or getting more insight on your customers’ buying patterns. You can start small and reach easily achievable goals, which inspires you to keep going and reach bigger ones. 

So what marketing resolutions could you make in 2018? Here are six ideas: 

  1. Revive relationships. Just as you lose touch with friends and then feel a little embarrassed about rekindling the friendship, so too you inevitably lose contact over time with some of your clients. But these dormant clients are a great potential revenue stream – it’s up to you to make the first move and get it flowing again. They’ve already bought from you, so they know who you are. All you have to do is remind them. 
  2. Get out there. Just recently, somebody I know was bemoaning the fact that she hadn’t made new friends over the last year. And yet when she thought about it, she admitted she wasn’t really making an effort.  Just turning up (to paraphrase Woody Allen) makes a huge difference, and is the reason why some people have more friends and more clients. So get out there: on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else your clients hang out. Crank up the blog, and start that newsletter. 
  3. Stop thinking, start doing. Yes, this is exactly what I should do with my never-ending web revamp, but then as a friend of mine once said, advice is much easier to give than to take. Much of the thinking is related to solving those problems that are stopping you launching the perfect website, or crafting the perfect sales email, or hiring the perfect marketing manager. But chasing perfection is sure way of never reaching a conclusion. It’s already good enough: send it on its way and move on.
  4. Do something different. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been tinkering with my gym routine so I don’t do the same things in the same order two times on the trot. I’ve also being consciously trying to initiate conversations where previously I would have waited for the other person to do it. And (this is a good one that you should try at home) eating meals sitting in a different chair to my usual one. Subtly disrupting your well-worn routines is a way of making you see that there is another way of doing things, and helps you push back the boundaries. So what could you do? Tweet more? Try video-blogging? Roll out some webcasts? Write longer, or shorter, or more frequently?
  5. Time travel. Project yourself to the end of the year and see what you’d like to have done more of, and less of. Look at the big challenges you face now, and see if they’ll be as important by the summer. Look back at the things that were on your radar last summer, and see if they’re still shining bright. Mostly, the day-to-day niggles and concerns don’t matter in the long run – and yet they hold us up and take an inordinate amount of time. When I was reading about cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) a few months back, I was particularly struck by the term goal-directed thinking. When you’re reacting in a certain way to events, you should ask yourself ‘Is this helping me reach my goals?’ Same goes for what’s happening in business: if it’s not helping, stop doing it. 
  6. Plan a content schedule. The number-one reason that blogs wither and die is that they run out of steam. So try loosely (and I do mean loosely) sketching out a content schedule for 2018. What events can you hook your pieces to? Are there any launches, anniversaries or milestones? Are there topical events (Harry and Meghan, for example) that you can hitch your wagon to? Having a skeleton plan that covers the year avoids those last-minute panics as you cast around for content. (Top tip: reuse & recycle.)

None of these resolutions are big or unachievable. They’re just slight course corrections that will allow you to get to your ultimate destination. Fitness is achieved one rep after another, and Spanish is learned one word at a time.

And marketing is a long game. But don’t worry – you have a whole year to get it right.