Come what May – now’s the time to start planning for 2019

business planning business process CRM marketing customers

Anyone else wonder where 2018 went?  Next week will be December – and thoughts now should be turning to planning for 2019.  True, there are still a couple of teeny weeny loose ends to be tied up “economy-wise” but there are still steps we can take to make sure we are ready to face whatever 2019 may have in store for us.

So – what can we do now so that we can kick off 2019 with gusto!?  Here are three suggestions.

1.       Understand your customers – define your customer avatar

2.       Put in place repeatable processes

3.       Plan out marketing campaigns and touch points to make sure you attract and keep the right customers

1 Understand your customers

This is the time to look back on the last 12 months (or longer) and really understand who your best customers were.  Did you work with or sell to the customers you really like and want to keep?  If you are new in business, it can take some time to discover who the ideal customers are – so review your sales and identify what makes a good customer.  Is it industry sector (if you’re B2B) or is it gender and/or age (if you’re B2C)?   Look at your sales margins too – make sure you are selling the right products to the right customers.

If you have been tracking your prospects then you should be able to identify the common features of those who became customers, and – equally – those who did not.  Perhaps they were the wrong size of company, or in the wrong location.  Use this information to plan for the future.  If you think you are losing sales because of “price”, don’t immediately assume you need to lower your prices (in fact, that’s almost always the wrong decision).  You probably just need to target more of the right prospects – who will understand the value of your products or services.

Once you have reviewed the history then you are in the position of being able to define your ideal customer – or customer avatar – or buyer persona!  (all the same thing – it just depends whose book you’re reading)!   Don’t make the mistake of thinking your customer is “anyone” – you need to get laser-focussed clarity on the customers YOU want to work with or sell to in 2019.  If you were an exporter (and at the time of writing there is still uncertainty regarding access to the European market) then perhaps focus more on the domestic market, or other geographies where you are already successful.  For some ideas on how to define your ideal customer see this worksheet.

how to define customer avatar buyer persona ideal customer

2. Put in place repeatable processes

There are several great reasons for defining and refining business processes.  Firstly, it can improve your business productivity immensely – saving you precious time when managing a sale, for example.  Secondly, there is evidence that customers and prospects love businesses where they “know where they are” – where documents are issued in a consistent manner, and where they understand what is happening at all times.  Communication is also key here – make sure you have consistent templates that everyone in your organisation uses, and that everyone is trained to know what to do and when.

Start by writing down the processes in your business – and get everyone involved, as it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure that the prospect or customer has a great experience the minute they engage with your company.  See also Who’s on the Team

marketing plan process CRM

3. Plan your marketing and communications

Now that you have an idea of the kind of customer (and prospect) you want to attract and keep, and you have processes to keep them engaged throughout the sales process, you want to plan out your marketing. 

Do not forget – it’s harder, and more expensive, to attract new prospects – so you must not forget to continue to engage your current customers.   You might use social media to keep current customers “near” you, perhaps in a Facebook Group, or you might send weekly hints and tips by email to help them use your products or introduce others in the range.

To attract new prospects – once you have your customer avatar you will understand better how to reach them – that might be via Instagram or Pinterest, or it might be podcasts or blogs on LinkedIn!

How can CRM help?

If you have a CRM then you can use it to assist you in much of this – from analysing and defining customers, to setting up processes, through to planning and enacting your marketing plan – a CRM can help you.  Remember though that it is just a tool, it needs to be configured and set up to work with you in your business.  This would also be a great time to review your CRM and get it ready for the coming year!

Get in touch to discuss how CRM can help you plan for next year

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