The start of a new calendar year is the perfect time to look at your business plan for the year ahead and to put in place targets, firm and some looser ones, that you’d hope to achieve come this time next year; financial, commercial and aspirational.

Part of this plan should include your marketing assets and strategy.

It can be bewildering, the different marketing channels and elements which need consideration, so here’s a checklist of twenty things to think about. And don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need a hand with any of them!

1. Check your privacy policy, cookie policy and terms are up to date on your web site, as well as your terms on your printed collateral, such as invoices and documentation to accompanying tender and quote applications.

2. Make sure that your patents, if you have any on your logo, your products or services, are covered for the year ahead.

3. If you’re running your site on WordPress, make sure your WordPress version and plugins are all up to date to the latest versions. As a matter of course, you should keep these updated on a three monthly basis (minimum), but always good to check at the start of a year.

4. Is your hosting environment right for your requirements? Review your current set up, make sure you’re on a server which is fast enough and secure enough for what you need and that frequent back ups are being taken.

5. Remove the Christmas messages and themes from your web site! You don’t want Santa still playing a part in your business come the end of January. Likewise, make sure your footer copyright is up to date with the current year.

6. Send a newsletter to your subscribers, wishing them Happy New Year and setting out your public plans for the year ahead. It’s a good way of reminding them about you, about what you do and that you’re an ambitious and beneficial partner to work with.

7. Plan your financial and aspirational targets. What do you hope to achieve this year? Even if the plans are left fairly loose, having goals to aim towards will give purpose and drive for your business.

8. What are you offering and talking about on your site? Does it still mirror what you do in the market place? Go through your site and make sure that what you claim on your site you can still deliver.

9. Revisit your search engine optimisation. Request a report and see how your site is performing and against which search terms. If it’s falling short, or it’s targeting the wrong key words, make changes accordingly.

10. Check all your channels which interact with your clients against each other (these could be marketing channels, business channels or logistical channels), in terms of cohesive tone, look and feel and message. Make sure they are all from the same family and amend as necessary, to ensure cohesion across all aspects of your business.

11. Change your passwords to your emails, your web site logins and infrastructure. You should update your passwords every three months at least, but people rarely do! Use the return from New Year as a chance to change that.

12. Double check your domain renewal. Is your domain(s) up for renewal this year? If so, make sure you have it set to auto-renew (if you wish to retain the domain, of course).

13. Put together your marketing plan. Set out your year in a month by month grid, with each individual channel to market; website, social media, newsletters, print-flyers, blog, etc, in rows below each month. Mark on the plan key industry and season themes you might wish to follow or avoid. Then, for each row/channel and month, mark down what activity you will be doing. This way making decisions regarding marketing and the wider business will be so much easier, as will activities such as writing blogs and sending newsletters.

14. Assign a copywriter! People hire a designer to produce beautiful designs so why not hire a professional to write eyeball-popping words? Get a copywriter to refresh your web site’s words, inspire your blogs and elevate your newsletters.

15. Review your social media presence. Are the different channels working as they should? Do they have their own unique voice and message, whilst still reflecting that of the business? Are they still being updated frequently enough? Think hard about exactly what you want your different social media channels to be doing for you.

16. What events are you attending this year? Take an opportunity to see what business gatherings and conferences are coming up in the year and work out those you’ll be visiting and those you’ll be actively participating in. Make sure you have up-to-date collateral for those events you are going to be exhibiting at.

17. Put a budget together for your marketing activities for the year. It’s easy to leave marketing as a piecemeal activity, spending only when necessary or when an idea comes to you. Using your marketing plan (see point 13), work out how much money you need to spend per month on your marketing activity and put it to good use. Remember, marketing spend should not be seen as an expense but as an investment, with return on every pound spent.

18. Run a Pay Per Click campaign on Google. Consider kick starting your year with a promotion on a particular service or product you offer. Set up a call to action advert, testing interest in the particular aspect of your business. Make sure that the promotion is a strong and clear one, to encourage people to enquire further.

19. Don’t neglect off line activity! It’s not solely about being online. Think about a print campaign, a beautiful set of flyers that you door drop amongst local businesses. An arresting design in hand has huge appeal and ability to persuade.

20. And finally, have fun! We go to work more days of our lives than we don’t. Make sure you enjoy it, and, if you don’t, make changes so that you do start enjoying your working life more. Perhaps by adopting some of the points above, work might start becoming a little easier? We can always hope!

Best of the luck for the new year!

If you need any help with any of the above, do get in touch. We’ll be happy to help.