10 things that you must do this year to stay in business

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With all the scare-mongering that is going on in the media at the moment surrounding the downturn, recession, depression or basically badly blown out economy (or at least as they would have you believe), you could be forgiven for pulling down your blinds and hanging up the ‘out of business’ sign in your shop front. That is if you’ve even managed to hang on to your premises for this long or even have a physical store front since the advent of the internet.

But just like when I am running a business or marketing consult session with a client, I tend to encourage people to stop focusing on the negative or problems at hand and start coming up with possible solutions. A simple brain storm BEFORE the pressure really hits or even in the midst of a crisis is a good way to remain optimistic about the year ahead (and to bring out my inner hippie, a little positive energy all around never hurt anyone).

By focusing on some specific tasks that will put you in a better position, or give you a position in the first place if you are a new businesss on the block, you should begin to see real results.

My first posting this year is therefore 10 possible ‘solutions’ or suggested marketing activities/strategies that will suit most businesses that I encourage you to consider implementing in the interest of battening down the hatches.

And whilst it is certainly better to do something rather than nothing, I would strongly encourage you to employ multiple strategies so that if you find one doesn’t work, you can put more into the strategies that you are finding ARE working for you. Like everything in marketing, to some degree it’s a little bit of test, measure, refine then repeat.

So without further adieu, here’s what I recommend you get busy with in 2009:

1. Have a website that has been created post 2005, which you can quickly and easily updates yourself and that is search engine friendly. If your site is all of these things but has not yet been search engine optimized, get this into play pronto too.

2. Have a blog that syndicates content in multiple locations every time you make a new posting be it audio, video or word content. There are whispers that audio and video will increase in their level of importance when it comes to performance online in 2009.

3. Have a company Facebook page and depending on what you do, be exploring the capability of running demographically targeted ad campaigns through Facebook.

4. Get key company documents i.e. templates, forms, contacts, procedures and policies ONLINE utilizing technology such as wikis, Google Docs or otherwise where you can share and collaborate online and mobilize your business. If things are quieter than usual, there is no better time to get this key documentation for your business in place.

5. Explore other social media realms and possibilities i.e. digg, LinkedIn, twitter, You Tube etc

6. Make sure that in all your marketing material it is explicitly clear what you offer and what action you want them to take. If it’s not, change your marketing to something that is powerful and effective.

7. Know down to the lead and the last dollar what marketing activities out there are generating you in terms of inquiries and sales and stop or decrease all marketing activities that are not providing you with a good return on your investment.

8. Have a bullet proof data capture system for all incoming inquiries be they walk ins, fax, phone, email or otherwise whereby you ask for their name, contact number, email and how they heard about you. Ensure you have a system in place that you follow them up systematically until they convert into a paying customer.

9. Revive your de-activated clients – that is people who have not spent money with you in some time. Most businesses are sitting on a gold mine of information and ‘warm’ leads from people who have done business with them in the past, but who they have never since contacted to see if they can get an upsell or cross-sell from a re-contact or even a referral.

10. Set up a Google Alert so you are the first to know when mentions of your company, product or service are made online, be it good or bad coverage. You may also like to careful eye on your competitors through Google Alerts and other tools online to see how they are weathering the potentially rocky economic storm.

There are potentially way more than 10 things that could be on this list. I’d be interested to hear what items you think should have made a top 10 list when considering best practices for businesses of all sizes and across industries. Tell me what you think should make the list or comment on any of the suggestions in the list.

Yvette Adams is the director of the Creative Collective, a creative services company based in Queensland, Australia offering the full range of creative services including PR, awards applications, websites, internet marketing, seo, graphic design, print production, photography and more. They won the 2008 Queensland Small Business Champions Specialised Small Business award and Yvette won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year and has been a finalist in numerous other local, state, national and international business awards. For more info see: https://thecreativecollective.com.au

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