No matter how you look at it, Spring housecleaning always feels like a chore. But, once you get it behind you, everything seems fresher and you come away with a sense of real accomplishment. The same can be said about refreshing your marketing. However, the stakes are usually a lot higher. You might be able to skip a year when it comes to the house. But, you cannot afford to be complacent about your business. There are too many outside forces at play and you could find yourself left behind and trying to catch up.

Here are a few things you should consider at least once a year to tidy up your marketing.

What’s New with Your Competition?

Have new competitors entered your market? How are they presenting their businesses? How do you stack up? Look at what they’re doing and make sure you can answer them. Learn from their smart moves and, more importantly, their mistakes. Knowing their shortcomings uncovers opportunities to distinguish your business from them. Check out their website, look at their ads, see how active they are on social media. What are they doing, what are they saying and how are they saying it? Are they offering specials, discounts or other incentives? Maybe you should consider doing the same … or, better yet, something more. Your competitors are likely not going away anytime soon. So, the more you know about them, the more relevant you’ll be.

Revisit Your Advertising and Promotions

If you’ve been using the same advertising channels for a while, revisit them. Determine if they’re working for you and if you need to consider alternatives. If you’ve been running the same ad over and over, you’ve likely benefited from frequency and recognition. (That’s assuming you’re in the right places.) But, there’s a fine line between consistency and staleness. People tend to gloss over the same ad they’ve seen time after time. So, consider a tweak or two. You can keep the same general message and style. But, a few changes here and there could breathe new life into your promotions and give people a reason to pay more attention. Maybe it’s a new spin on your message. Or a limited-time offer. Or something seasonal. Try to react to current events and market shifts. Most of all, make sure any ads you do are placed where your prospects are. The days of taking the shotgun approach to advertising are over. Instead of blasting your ad everywhere and hoping something sticks, you need to be where people are looking.

Social Media Habits Are Changing

If you’re active in social media, it’s vital that you stay on top of the latest trends. Social media is moving very quickly as users are becoming more sophisticated. What may have been a good tactic a year ago might be yesterday’s news today. Make sure you’re following your audience. For example, younger users are quick to switch platforms. So, they may have moved away from where they spent their time a year ago. Pushing posts, launching “like” campaigns, adding links from your blog and running ads are some ways to create a buzz about what you’ve been up to. These can be very effective tactics to get the word out and build awareness. It’s not that expensive and could bring in some quick returns if you have the right message. Remember, the traction you gain is often determined by the incentives you offer. (More about incentives below.)

Is Your Website Working for You?

In many ways, your website is the face of your business. If you STILL don’t have a mobile-friendly website, you are hurting your business. What’s keeping you? If you rely on organic web searches to add leads to your sales funnel, YOU MUST HAVE A MOBILE-FRIENDLY SITE. If you don’t, your website will appear in mobile search results AFTER all of your competitors who have one. And, believe me, they do.

Keep your website from becoming stale. As search engines index the Internet, they can see which websites are changing and which aren’t. Those doing more get ranked higher. Those that become stale are penalized. Try doing simple things like adding new photos or videos (search engines LOVE video) to your home page, or something more adventurous, like creating a blog and sharing your expertise.

Usually, the most important part of a website is the call to action. Free consultations are meaningless, because everyone offers them. You need to offer something useful to your audience that gives them a good reason to provide their contact info. It could be coupons, new client specials or useful tools and information that position you as the go-to source. Create a unique landing page with a simple form for each offer. The more info you ask for, the less inclined people are to provide it. You likely won’t get this right the first time. So, take a trial and error approach.

Home-Cooking is Good, Except when It Comes to Marketing.

If you’ve been getting by doing your own marketing, it might be time to get more serious. Sooner or later, you need to bring in the pros to help raise your profile. This is simply the cost of doing business. It should be viewed as an investment, not an expense. Going cheap will hurt you in the end. If you can’t afford it, work out some trades or payment plans. You might be surprised how willing people are to work with you. By doing your own marketing, you’re taking time away from the things you do best and devaluing your time. And, it usually shows.

Spring is right around the corner. It’s a season of renewal and rejuvenation. So, shake off the rust, get out the broom and add some polish to your business.

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