All marketeers are well aware that the start of the marketing calendar is wholly focused on recovering from the excesses of the Christmas holiday season - Finance, Fitness and Diet are splashed across all media in high concentration from January through to Easter. More than that though, January is about setting up for the year ahead - building towards goals, and trying to hit the ground running. I have extrapolated 3 derivations for each topic term for you to apply to how you might best oversee a successful online business.
This is about making the most of your existing business assets - getting the most effective participation and output from your human resources, how you bolster the value of your Intellectual Property and Brandmarks. This is obviously a review and enhancement exercise - seeing where you can extract more value and impact from what you’ve already got. Our company used to have two brands - Comrz (company) and Affino (Solution), and to increase the impact of our marketing and extract more value and efficiency, for 2014 we decided to put everything (company + solution) onto the same Affino brand.
As part of planning the year ahead, you need to figure out which areas of your business need investment - where is the most opportunity for growth, and what resources (human? technical? supplies?) need to be acquired to support that growth. You have to balance investment with profitability, as ideally one leads to the other, although initially the investment is likely to put a strain on resources.
This is the essence of most business management - balancing the flow of payments over the whole year, and having sufficient reserves, backup plans and / or other financial facilities to draw on to ride out the off-season / lean times.
This is the Core Strength of the business - how well set-up and how good you are at handling pressure and coping with stress points. A key part of this is Rate-of-Recovery too - in terms of tackling heavy projects at high intensity, and being able to recover quickly to deal with other matters. For smaller businesses this is particularly important, as there is a lot of multi-tasking that needs to happen to render a similar degree of service which larger companies can offer more easily.
How quickly can you move and react to changing needs. All businesses need to build in cover and redunancy - who covers for key staff when they are away on business, on vacation or off sick? All companies must have a plan of action for who slots into which role when those resources are in demand. For smaller companies again, there is typically a greater need for overlap.
This is essentially flexibility and ease of responding to change - which funnily enough is also dependent on Resilience and Agility. At Affino we have learned that when we become inflexible we are less likely to win new business. There is a huge proviso here in that all companies attain profitability from doing mostly similar things - if a Client’s requirement is too different or too specific, you may not be able to deliver that service profitably. So there will always be a trade-off between flexiblity and saying no to the wrong sort of work for your business.
Discipline is as important in business as it is in fighting battles - a battle has often been won because one side was better at holding the line - whether it was ’ships-of-the-line’ or ’shield-walls’ - having the strength of mind to stay the course usually sees out victory in both battles and business alike. This cannot be totally at the expense of Adaptability, but when you set a particular Strategy, you should always try to see it through, and then be super agile to implement something different if that strategy proves unsuccessful.
This is planning out the year on a seasonal / quarterly / monthly basis. Nearly all businesses are subject to seasonal variations, and most have two key selling seasons - January to June and September to December - each season being subject to its own climatic changes and fluctuations. The key to a successful Strategy is constant review, and the ability to change tack quickly when it is evident that a strategy really is not working for you. For marketing you need time to build up momentum, and many novice marketeers make the mistake of changing campaigns too quickly and way before they have achieved proper traction.
As with nutrition, good input usually results in good output. This will always be about getting the most value from the most pertinent raw materials. For sure quality standards are important, as is getting the right materials at the right price. Buying wisely is often a key part of profitability - be wary of buying in lowest common denominator supplies - unless you are specifically in the ’Value’ business. For most businesses it is about delivering high quality at an attractive price point for that level of quality. As an example - the weight, look and feel of a basic marketing staple like a business card can speak volumes about a company’s approach to quality - and therefore hint at the mindset of said company and at what level they are likely to deliver results.