As B2B marketers are moving into 2014 and planning what their years should look like, it’s important to keep certain things in mind. New Year’s resolutions aren’t solely for losing weight and saving money—they can also help propel your professional life.
To help give you a head start, and just in case you didn't already make any, here are 6 New Year’s resolutions we think every marketer should have on their list.
1. Learn as much as possible about your customers.
After becoming comfortable with your customers, it is scarily easy to fall into a rut and forget to learn more about them. Like anything else, your customers’ needs and wants are constantly changing. Make a concentrated effort this year to ask more questions and really listen to what your customers are saying. In fact, this should be a resolution you make every year.
To put this resolution into action, there are two main avenues of interaction to take: data and in-person.
Your customers are leaving you a valuable trail of data that can give you insight into their behaviors. Take advantage of this. You can also follow customers’ activities online to gain insight. Interacting with customers in this format will help build relationships.
After you have analyzed the data, get out and talk to your customers. Find out directly from their mouths what they want and need. The relationships you build from these interactions will be indispensable.
2. Develop a content strategy that isn’t just promotional.
The ultimate goal of content marketing is, of course, to generate leads. Because of that, it can be easy to fall into the trap of crafting a string of promotional content. The problem with that strategy is that it does not work. In fact, it can sometimes backfire if your content gets labeled as spam somewhere, like on LinkedIn.
To combat this problem, make sure every single piece of content you create is offering real value. Ask questions like, “Would I want to read this if I didn’t create it?” Or, “Is there something real that can be learned from this?”
If the answer is “no,” create something else. That doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel for every new project. Just draw from what your company already excels at and share that knowledge. There is also no shame in re-purposing old content in a fresh way.
3. Learn a new marketing skill.
It is never too late, or too early, to learn a new skill set. Whether you are clueless about a new social network or you would like to sharpen your public speaking skills, learning a marketing skill can only make you better at your job.
The great thing about marketers is that they want to share their tactics and skills with others. Reach out to experts in the marketing skill you want to learn. There’s a good chance they already have a book available, a podcast cued up, or a webinar scheduled.
4. Test out a new tool or tactic.
This goes along with using a new skill, but applies to your B2B marketing strategy as a whole. Perform an evaluation to see what tools and tactics are working and which are not. Are there any that are under-performing? Consider swapping out something that isn’t working for a new, untested tool or tactic.
Give that new tool or tactic a trial run. Before you set it free, make some goals and predictions and then reevaluate after a set amount of time. You may find that new tool or tactic is just what your overall marketing strategy needed.
5. Become less reliant on Google.
Google is consistently changing its algorithm, affecting how businesses are found online. Perhaps you have heard about the heavily covered story about lyrics service Rap Genius falling completely off of Google and losing 80% of its site traffic. Of course, Rap Genius’ ban was because of link violations, but the numbers are worth paying attention to. Would your site suffer if Google suddenly wasn’t delivering page views?
In the growing age of social media and networking, it is more important than ever to have traffic coming from multiple sources outside of the gigantic purview of Google. Often, B2B marketers feel like social networks are a better fit for B2C businesses, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Many B2B companies are finding success on sites like LinkedIn and Twitter, and even on B2C-heavy Facebook. Finding other avenues of traffic will protect your business if Google referrals ever start to decline.
6. Attend a new event.
Marketers should never stop learning, and what better way to learn something new than attending a new event? Not only might you pick up a new trick of the trade, but other obvious advantages of events are meeting new people, finding new potential customers, and giving the brain visual stimuli outside of the office.
The advantage of attending an event you have never been to before is that all of the advantages of live events are magnified. There’s a better chance you’ll meet more new people, run into different potential clients, and be exposed to entirely new stimuli. Events that you have regularly attended are great, but they may be filled with people and information you are already familiar with. This year, try attending an event where you know you will be challenged and exposed to brand new things and people, thus expanding your network.