If you’re like me, this time of year is very nostalgic, brought on by remembering all the things 2015 has brought forward. For some, 2015 was a smashing success, while others suffered humorous gaffes and complete embarrassment on national television (here’s looking at you, Steve Harvey).
Whether 2015 was a boom or a bust, now is the perfect time to review how 2015 performed and set your personal and professional resolutions for 2016.
Working with hundreds of small, independently-owned veterinary clinics as part of Veterinary Hospitals Association, it’s become clear that many small businesses entrepreneurs don’t think of having a crisis communication plan in place until it’s too late.
To avoid a potentially business-ruining situation, it’s critical that businesses both large and small have a crisis communication plan in place. As marketing and sales professionals, you too should have a plan in place. Take time before 2016 comes to review any potentially disastrous situations which might befall your business, and sketch out what communication would need to take place should those situations arise. Have standard messages for social media, sample press releases, email communications, and letters prepared, and brief your team on who handles what if the time comes. It could be as simple as your website crashing or a sale going wrong on social media, to something catastrophic as your building catching fire or a bad article being written about you. In any case, having a crisis communication plan in place for 2016 is a must-have for all businesses.
Whether you are part of a large team or running your own business, blogging consistently provides huge benefits for your company.
Fresh content helps continue to drive traffic to your website. It signals to Google and other search engines that crawl your site that you keep it up-to-date, and they start to check back to your website more frequently.
There are other huge benefits to blogging consistently, including continuing content that your audience will share on social media, growing your thought leadership on certain subjects, and when call-to-actions are done right within the blog, drive leads and grows your sales pipeline.
If blogging consistently seems overwhelming, start small and work your way up. Two blog posts per month on topics that you enjoy writing about and relate to your business are perfect starting points. Work your way to weekly posts through the course of 2016, and you’re on your way!
You or your business may have had a profile on social networks like Facebook and Twitter for years, but are you utilizing them the best you can be? And is your audience even on Facebook or Twitter anymore?
The start of the year is the perfect time to audit your social media accounts and review newer networks like Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat to see if they hold a place in your social media strategy. Once you’ve audited your profiles, analyze how often you post, the perfect time to post for your audience, and content topics that perform the best. With this information in hand, it will be easier to develop a social media content calendar you can post consistently from.
Many small business owners I talk to continue to refer to that one time they ran a promotion and it flopped. When pressed, that one promotion was held back in 2011 and they only put out a press release, sharing nothing on social media, no posters in their store – just a press release.
If your experience doing promotions is similar, it’s time to shake off the past and look forward to the future. Plan one full promotion per quarter, and tie it in with a theme, holiday, or something important to your industry. For the veterinary industry for example, one special promotion we ran this year was during Vet Tech Week, October 11-17, 2015. Each industry has similar days or weeks they can tie special contests and promotions in to as well. There are also nationwide shopping holidays, such as the more recent Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Green Monday that companies could tie into, too.
Take a look at your calendar and note key holidays and industry celebrations to tie in and boost your business during those times with a special promotion. Be sure to tie it through social media, digital marketing, public relations, and you’ll have a full-fledge campaign ready for success.
This year, don’t talk yourself out of going to a couple conferences or events in your industry this year. The benefits outweigh the cost to attend, and it’s likely that there are events near you that will be beneficial to you personally and professionally.
There are thousands of events held each year, so don’t limit yourself to just two. If you’re not sure where to start, search your industry and events or conferences 2016 and start there. When I type in “marketing conference 2016” or “social media conference 2016,” the top web hits provide great conferences or articles listing the top ones to attend in 2016 – great starting points to decide which are in my area, my budget, and ones I’d be interested in going to.
Attending conferences and events helps you stay ahead of the curve and in touch with what’s going on in your industry. They also provide great networking opportunities to expand your professional business, and ideas and strategies to better your business as soon as you get home from the event.
Happy New Year!
Stephanie Duncan is the Communication Coordinator for Veterinary Hospitals Association, a member-driven association organized to represent the interests of their over 345 members and the veterinary community. She also blogs irregularly at Oh So Sociable. Follow Stephanie and VHA on Twitter at @theStephDuncan and@VetsHospAssoc.