Woohoo, it’s (almost) 2017! We (almost) made it through 2016!
Have you made your resolution(s) yet? Have you dusted off the treadmill? (I’m recovering from back surgery at the moment… so that’s my excuse!)
Making a resolution is a healthy way to challenge ourselves into improvement as we turn the calendar over.
That’s why over 50 percent of Americans make an annual set of resolutions.
A recent scientific study concluded that 88 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail, though.
Ever wonder why?
Well, I did. So I did some research, and here’s what I discovered.
Willpower, the essential ingredient in a successful resolution, is operated by a group of cells in the prefrontal cortex part of our brain. That’s the part right behind your forehead.
Here’s the problem… this is also the part of the brain that is responsible for short-term memory and solving abstract problems.
So, when you layer your resolution on top of everything else that’s going on in there, your brain starts making trade-offs. Guess what gets cut first? The most recent idea... your resolution.
The only way to make it work (and what the other 12 percent… that group of successful resolution folks do) is create more willpower.
Luckily, your business isn’t a human. So when it comes to keeping your resolutions, your business has a better shot, right?
So let’s make a New Business Resolution for 2017 – commit to understanding how you attract and retain new customers better this year to enable predictable and sustainable growth.
To see if you and your business qualify for this resolution ask yourself these three questions:
1) Do you know how new customers discover your business?
2) Do you know why new customers decide to buy?
3) Do you know why new customers continue the relationship when they have the chance to leave?
If you are unable to definitively answer all three of those questions, it’s time for a New Business Resolution in 2017.
Your resolution has a better chance of success if it’s powered with a smart plan.
New Business Resolution – Step 1: Gather Information
It’s time for a survey! Start by asking your prospects how they found you. But – and this is REALLY important – this is the first in a series of questions… not the only question.
For example, how many of your customers would answer “word of mouth” and move on to the next question? Probably most of them. The result is you now have collected bad data that does not help you make decisions.
The next survey question should be “who, specifically, recommended us and why?” If they don’t know, settle for knowing who made the recommendation, then follow up.
Word of mouth is not a marketing strategy or tactic. It’s a byproduct of other marketing efforts. And it’s important for you to understand what’s working.
If you end up getting a consensus of answers for something that doesn’t seem like marketing – e.g. customer service – then it’s time to start promoting your customer service. It might not seem intuitive, but it’s a promise you know you can keep… because it’s the reputation your business has earned.
None of this is possible without gathering information, though – don’t skip it in the name of savings. It’s vital.
New Business Resolution – Step 2: Build A Buyer Funnel
Most businesses, in my experience, do not have a scientific approach to how they approach new business.
For example, have you ever sat down at a white board and physically made a drawing of each of the steps your business takes to make a purchase?
If not, do it. First build what is actually happening. Then build what you would like to see happen.
New Business Resolution – Step 3: Have Customer Exit Interviews
Once a customer decides to leave, we usually move on as soon as possible, right? By moving on quickly we are not forging ahead. We are actually doing our business a disservice. There is valuable information in the brains of our ex-customers that we need to extract.
A personal phone call and honest question usually does the trick – I’m sorry you’re not doing business with us anymore, can you share why so we can get better?
A dose of humility is usually met with a dose of honesty. The answer might end up being tough to hear, but what you learn could serve you for years.
The steps seem simple. That’s because they are.
Don’t skip, and don’t assume you know the answers, either. Take the time to gather the information, and then build a plan to new business.
Happy resolution season!
Josh Gordon is an award-winning marketing communications professional and President of Full Spectrum Marketing, a full-service advertising agency with digital roots based in Kent, Ohio and Wooster, Ohio. You can reach Josh at firstname.lastname@example.org.