As we make inroads into the new year, you might be thinking about what lies ahead in 2016 for your company. For all SMEs, stepping back and checking the vital signs of the business once in while is a pretty good thing to do. You might have done well in 2015 but how can you do better in 2016? Are there things you want to try? Marketing initiatives you want to implement?
One of the things we find at The Last Hurdle is that businesses are pretty good at doing one or two different things. What they aren’t so good at is joining it all together and making it work for them.
Joined Up Business Development for 2016
There are several different aspects to business development: traditional marketing, sales, digital marketing, networking, website and search engine optimisation and under these a ploretha of other disciplines like email marketing, direct mail, blog writing etc. All of the business development activities need to be brought into alignment, just like the stars, if something significant is going to happen.
Too often businesses stick with the things they are comfortable with rather than utilising all of the available sales and marketing activities and even if they do there is little thought given to joining everything up. It’s not social media marketing or SEO, it’s social media marketing AND SEO
…and digital marketing, and traditional marketing, and networking…
To make all this work together, you will need to have the right plan in place, the time and resources to implement it, and a clear idea of what success is going to look like at the end of all your hard work. Most SMEs see the value in a joined up plan for business development, so it’s a surprise that many of them seem to eschew it for ad hoc initiatives that often don’t yield much success.
Here are the core parts of a joined up business development plan:
- Yes, you need a plan. This needs to be structured and have a clear timeline and process for implementing, monitoring and, if needed, reviewing.
- You need to be able to introduce that business development plan into your day to day running so that it becomes second nature.
For many business owners this is difficult. They are so used to working in their business that they forget the important act of actually working on their business. Another issue is that they often come up with a good plan but find it difficult to sustain over time because things get in the way.
Let’s say you are going to have a big push in 2016 and grow your business by 20%. You may already have the figures there for what it means in terms of how many sales you need to make.
Of course, you can push your sales team out the door and get them to work double time bringing in the deals that achieve your target. But where is your social media plan? How have you set up your web pages to make it easier for customers to buy? Are you linking that email campaign with a dedicated call back to customers to see how they feel? Are you networking in the right places? Is your traditional newspaper ad sending potential new customers in the right direction? Do you have the right number of staff on board to ensure that you deal with every query quickly and efficiently once your marketing plan is initiated? Does everyone in the office have a clear idea where you are all heading? More importantly is everyone pulling in the same direction?
Joined up business development is about every aspect of your business working together. Working through a plan which when implemented will achieve your goals. If 2016 is going to be your big year, then make sure you utilise all the different business development strands together.