Now that 2013 is drawing to a close, it's time to recap some of the best business tips and strategies offered throughout the course of the year. While there is plenty of business advice worth reviewing, the following list is composed of those marketing and promotional strategies that not only kept resurfacing in one form or another, but will also continue to serve small businesses well into 2014. This particular review list is organized in an easy step-by-step approach for those who are looking to revamp their approach to promotional giveaways, business gifts and other marketing tools.
Develop a long-term game plan
As the holiday shopping season nears its end, businesses are increasingly looking to next year's marketing objectives. Businesses that want an advantage should start working on a thoughtful and thorough marketing plan as soon as possible. This may not be the most hip advice, but it is effective when done right. That means not only outlining efforts on personalized calendars, but also looking forward to new ideas that can give companies an edge.
A common theme throughout this year is to value quality over quantity. Companies won't be able to please everyone, and they're probably not going to woo very many people with one-size-fits-all promotional items. Instead of aiming for the lowest common denominator, companies should consider niche marketing that will appeal to their ideal client base. Gyms may give away branded water bottles, while tech companies may want to offer laptop bags. While companies may not distribute as many promotional giveaways as they normally would, they're more likely to make an impact.
Invest in social media
Some businesses may be put off with the concept of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. However, at the end of the day, they are not that different from any other marketing avenue, except that they are currently incredibly popular. Businesses that take advantage of social media have an opportunity to expand their marketing reach. Online giveaways of products can draw in customers. Social pages that encourage active participation are a great way to make customers feel involved with a company, as demonstrated by some businesses' creative uses of the photo-sharing app Instagram. Businesses need only look to the accounts of industry giants such as Sharpie, Virgin America and Red Bull for successful examples of Instagram marketing, according to Business Insider.
There's no limit to the kinds of items companies can give, nor is there any shortage of ways to give them. However, it's not enough to develop a strategy and execute it. Smart businesses are the ones that are always looking to to improve their marketing strategies. The best way to do that is to measure the success of a plan over time and adjust accordingly. Companies should develop strategies for receiving regular feedback about their promotional products. Surveys can be administered via e-mail or through social networks. A mixture of open- and closed-ended questions will likely result in more informative responses. Polls featuring one or two questions can provide immediate feedback about a particular issue. For a more intimate portrait of customer satisfaction, businesses may also want to schedule conversations with customers.
The success of a marketing campaign is only as good as the marketing team that developed it. Companies should put some of their budget for business gifts toward employee appreciation. A more welcoming and friendly work environment can be a huge influence on employee productivity. Furthermore, social media sites such as Glassdoor provide a form of marketing in the form company reviews by anonymous employees. A positive work environment can quickly become public information, thereby boosting job applicants and improving brand image.