Not another New Year’s resolution! But why is the New Year such an appealing time to reset and refocus for the year ahead?
Referred to as the “fresh start effect”, the New Year represents a natural transition point (as can a birthday, change of season or even the first of the month) where it’s easier to adopt new habits and make changes. This “fresh slate” gives us space to reflect on the past year and to set a course for the coming months.
If you haven’t already done your business or marketing planning for the year ahead, use the start of the year to refocus, and set your goals from February forward.
Before you get busy strategising, it’s important to take a look at your progress from the last plan, focussing on what worked and what didn’t work over the past 12 months. This isn’t a pass/fail test, but a constructive review with fresh eyes noting any roadblocks, recurring issues or lessons learnt from where something didn’t pan out. Likewise, take note of any particular highlights, milestones and achievements.
Avoid the temptation to do everything at once. You’re planning a new website, a move to a new office, five new staff, and to complete two major projects by June? Narrow it down to one to three of the most critical goals for your business, and then start a plan of how best to achieve them. Keeping narrow has a number of upsides: from helping you maintain focus, facilitate effective time management, and to help you avoid being spread too thin (and stressed!).
Once you’ve narrowed in on your target goals or activities, get specific about how you will achieve them. “I would like to convert one new lead a month” won’t cut it. What steps do you need to take in order to achieve this goal? Do you need to arrange a coffee catch-up, schedule a phone call or send a company profile? Break down larger goals into more manageable steps where needed or create a ‘hit list’ of key target clients to keep you on track when you start to deviate. The more specific you are, the better chance you will succeed. Describe your goals or activities in ways that allow you to track your progress and measure your success.
The purpose of this is twofold – to make sure all your assets are up-to-date and to also review them for their effectiveness and benefit to your business. Conduct an inventory of your marketing toolkit, which may include your website, Facebook page, Twitter presence, LinkedIn profile, Instagram, email newsletter or blog. And don’t forget about your fee proposal template, CV, project profiles and photography – are these all up-to-date? It’s also worthwhile to review your toolkit to consider whether you need to maintain all these efforts or if you can streamline your efforts to focus on what gives you most bang for buck.
To maintain focus, it always helps to keep your unique selling proposition (USP) front of mind. Similar to our last article on Four “About” pages worth seeing, clients have dozens of other designers to scan through. So, why should they choose you? That’s the question you need to answer with your USP.
Make the most of the “fresh start effect” and momentum that the new year brings to focus on habits that will help you stay focused this year.