Business Ideas for the New Year
January 31, 2011 / Updated: January 31, 2011 / Lena Shore
It’s the new year and many of us are thinking about how to improve our businesses, generate more more of it, and how to serve our customers better. I’ve collected a few ideas. Not everything will be the right fit for you, but it might get you thinking in new directions for improvement.
Once a year is a good time to think about your website and what you can do to improve it. Ask yourself these questions:
- Did you get any requests the previous years concerning your website?
- Has your business changed? Do you need to update your web copy to keep it current?
- Are you offering new products or do you want to focus on a particular product?
- Can you offer your visitors anything to make their visit more productive? Online payments? A search feature? A calendar of events?
- Is there anything on your website that will keep visitors coming back? Could there be?
- How is your SEO (Search Engine Optimization)? Could it use a tune up?
Do you produce an newsletter for your clients? Maybe you should consider one. Newsletters that have valuable information keep you in touch with your clients. They can also be passed along to new clients.
- Should you have a newsletter?
- Is your existing newsletter frequent enough or too frequent?
- Do you have an electronic version of your newsletter?
- Are you posting your newsletters on your website in an archive? (More important than you think.)
- What types of articles would your readers be interested in? Feel good stories? How they can save money? Coupons? Think about what your customer wants.
- Put an email collection form on your site for people to sign up for your newsletter.
Do you have a blog on your website? If not, you might consider one. It can increase your search engine visibility.
- What kinds of articles will you write?
- How often will you post?
- Can you use these same articles in your newsletter?
- What do your clients want to see?
What about a direct mail campaign? This is when you send a series of postcards (or letters) to your target customers to increase exposure or sales.
- Sending a series of three or more postcards works best.
- Ask yourself why your target will keep your postcard or be called to action.
- Using an oversized postcard gets better results.
- Supply a call to action on the postcard (Call today, Visit our website, etc).
- Make sure you will be able to follow up with any responses in a timely manner.
- Cards that have a theme work best. By the time the target has seen the cards several times, they start to remember.
If you’ve been to google and searched for something, you’ve seen Google AdWords. They are the paid advertisements that appear on the edges of the page when you see the results of your search. Setting up an account is free. You can then set up a budget and create an ad based on keywords you choose.
- Establish a budget.
- Choose your keywords carefully.
- Consider any negative keywords you may need.
- Choose your ad’s words carefully to target the right people.
- A good landing page is an extension of your ad, not the home page. It will focus on benefits of your product. Potential leads want to know how your product or service is a solution for them.
- Track and monitor your ad(s) to see what is working and what is not.
Have you considered delving into social media? Or maybe you already do some social media and could step it up a notch.
- Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and many more.
- Spend 10 minutes a day on social media.
- Create posts ahead of time that are relevant to your readers.
You know all those neat applications on your smart phone? Maybe it’s time you had one developed for your own business. Is there something you could create that would be useful for you or your clients?
- Do some research and find out what other businesses are up to.
- Become active in an online forum that caters to your industry.
- Talk to your friends and ask what they are doing for the new year.
Consider offering a Groupon! Groupon is a deal-of-the-day website that is localized to major geographic markets in the United States.
The company offers one “Groupon” per day in each of the markets it serves. If a certain number of people sign up for the offer, then the deal becomes available to all; if the predetermined minimum is not met, no one gets the deal that day. This reduces risk for retailers, who can treat the coupons as quantity discounts as well as sales promotion tools. Groupon makes money by getting a cut of the deal from the retailers.
Programs and Services
- Offer new or revamped packages of old services.
- Offer new services or find something you haven’t been pushing and give it the spotlight.
- Offer rewards programs to retain clients.
- What are your competitors offering that maybe you should?