A few years ago, I was sitting at my desk in early January, wondering what to write for my monthly newsletter that was due the next day. As I struggled with writer’s block, I thought, “Never again!” I resolved to develop a content plan for that year and never let a lack of planning hinder my business.” So far so good.

Every December, I develop a rough content plan for the coming year that outlines the topics I will cover for the next 12 months. The plan covers my emails (now twice-monthly, with occasional targeted followups), blog and social media. The plan is flexible. Topics change. But as the year passes, I follow the plan pretty faithfully.

Investing a few hours in December to plan for the following 12 months saves me many more hours I otherwise would spend with writer’s block, wondering “What should I write this time.”

It’s not too late for you to make a similar resolution. Resolve to develop a plan in 2017, and your content marketing will come much easier and be much more productive and profitable.

Over the years, I developed plans and working procedures for other key business operations. Each plan and procedure began as I resolution. Here are a few I recommended to improve your marketing productivity and outcomes:

Resolve to clean your email list to purge disengaged subscribers. This will help you avoid spam filters and get more emails to your engaged followers. Develop a set of criteria to define “disengaged” (i.e. those who haven’t opened one email in six months) and establish a repeatable procedure to suspend or delete them from your list.

Resolve to develop new tactics to attract leads and build your mailing list. You might create a few free white papers to offer on your website. Launch a webinar series. Create a sweepstakes promotion. Next year, review what worked and what didn’t and devise improved tactics.

Resolve to survey your customers at least once a year and develop plans to act on the feedback — both negative and positive. Surveys remind your customers that you’re listening — especially if you respond to the feedback with words and actions. The feedback can instruct your business decisions by revealing what’s working and what’s not. And a good survey can help you identify customers who are prospects for additional products or services.

Resolve to audit your website every year and develop a site improvement plan for the year. This does not mean you have to rebuild your website every year, but you should have a list of things you can do to enhance your site every year.
Resolve to measure. What’s your average cost to acquire a customer? What’s your average revenue per customer? What’s the average lifetime value of a customer relationship? If you can’t answer those questions, resolve this year to put systems in place that allow you to answer them.

If you don’t know how much you’re spending to acquire your average customer or how much that customer spends per year, you have no way to determine whether your marketing and sales processes work.

Finally, resolve to be grateful. Expressing gratitude should be part of a well-planned, repeated process. It’s good for your mental health, and it’s good for your business. You should say “Thank you” to individual customers as part of a planned, repeated process, not just when the opportunity arises. Decide how you’re going to go it — with written notes, gifts, phone calls, emails. The method does not really matter, as long as you do it genuinely and consistently.

On that note, I’ll end by saying how grateful I am to all of you who read this column every month. I wish you great success in 2017.

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