Most people start a small business because they have a great idea or a passion for a certain product or service. But that alone isn’t enough to run a successful company. You have to wear a lot of hats as a small business owner, including some that you might not have anticipated. And like it or not, that includes being a marketing strategist.

With all the curve balls 2023 threw at us, it’s understandable to want to turn things around this year. Whatever marketing and sales setbacks you experienced or small business mistakes you made, you’re ready to wipe the slate clean and focus on bigger and better goals to follow through with. There’s nothing like making up for lost time, and last year, a lot of us lost a lot of time.

Here’s the good news: you can absolutely turn things around this year. Let’s address the overarching marketing goals that you should be aiming for and some specific tactics to implement that will help you meet them.

Are you ready to crush it this year?

Goal #1: Increase Sales

Okay, this one is probably pretty obvious, right? But setting your sights on increasing sales isn’t just about doing better than last quarter or last year. Instead, you should be quantifying an actual percent increase that you want to achieve based on past performance and market conditions. It’s completely fine to aim big (and you should!), but make sure that it’s a goal you think you can actually hit. This way, you’ll be able to take deliberate action to get there rather than just crossing your fingers and hoping that a windfall comes your way.

Start by putting together a sales forecast that is built on data. Examine your small business’s sales performance each month of 2020, and indicate any patterns that might help you predict what the upcoming months may look like.

Next, you’ll want to look at your sales process for areas of improvement. What strategies were successful? Are outbound efforts lagging behind inbound efforts? Did most of your sales come from word of mouth? Or did you send an email campaign that yielded a high conversion rate? These are the kinds of methods you’ll want to dive into so you can either refine and improve or double down on them.

With the continued growth of online shopping and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses should prioritize building and enhancing their digital presence, including robust eCommerce platforms to reach customers wherever they are.

Ensure your website is mobile-friendly and optimized for all devices. User experience matters a lot in eCommerce, so make sure your website is easy to navigate, loads quickly, and has clear calls to action.

Partner with influencers or micro-influencers in your niche to amplify your brand’s reach and credibility. Identify influencers whose audience aligns with your target demographic and collaborate with them on sponsored content, product reviews, or influencer takeovers.

Allocate a portion of your marketing budget to social media advertising to reach a wider audience and drive targeted traffic to your website or landing pages. Experiment with different ad formats, targeting options, and ad creative to optimize your campaigns for maximum ROI.

Goal #2: Generate Valuable Leads

Valuable leads and increased sales go hand-in-hand. A better, more qualified lead pool increases your chances of converting those leads to actual customers. Why? Well, the more qualified a lead is, the more likely they are to need your services or want your product.

However, great leads aren’t just waiting for you to find them. They can be hard to track down, but they’re priceless once you do. When it comes to lead generation, the big objective isn’t necessarily getting as many new leads as you can, rather get as many quality leads as possible.

There are two basic factors for determining the value of a lead: how likely they are to convert into an actual customer and how much revenue they might be able to generate for your business. Figuring out who fits the bill isn’t an exact science, but putting your marketing time and money toward getting more of the leads with high-value potential is always the way to go.

Some methods for getting qualified leads are:

Host webinars or digital events – Partner with brands that have a similar audience as yours to host webinars or digital events and tap into each others’ networks.

Digital advertising – Look into PPC tools and placing ads on social sites and other websites that your audience frequents so you can tap into places they’re already engaged.

Create landing pages – Landing pages that are optimized for conversions are essential for your website. Make sure you link to these landing pages in your digital ads and promotions and share them out on your social channels to direct leads back to your site to convert.

Become a guest contributor – Create and publish content on high authority online publications that your audience reads. Make sure you include a link in your content back to your site or landing page so you can create a path to conversion.

Utilize pop-up forms – When people land on your site, what is their call to action? Adding pop-up forms to your website’s high-traffic pages is a great way to encourage a lead to sign up for your emails or download a piece of high-quality content. Once they fill out the form, you can enroll them into your inbound marketing and begin nurturing them.

Goal #3: Have an Effective Inbound Marketing Strategy

Generating all those valuable, qualified leads means nothing if you don’t have an effective inbound marketing strategy in place.

Your inbound strategy is all about leading prospects to your site, converting them to leads, enrolling them in email nurture, and eventually converting them into customers. So, employing some of the tactics mentioned in goal number two will help you also achieve this goal. It’s a win-win!

Inbound marketing has multiple prongs, including SEO-driven content, social media, and branding. While outbound marketing is important, too, it’s these inbound methods that will really help you expand your lead pool and reach more prospects.

Make sure you use tactics like webinars, guest content, digital advertising, social media, and SEO-driven content to get your brand in front of a new audience. Then, ensure your site is set up to convert those new visitors to leads by implementing forms and gated content. Once a visitor converts to a lead, use your email automation tool to enroll them in the right nurture campaign based on how you segment your contacts.

Segmentation allows you to increase your personalized marketing efforts so you can deliver tailored experiences and offers that resonate with individual customers, fostering loyalty and long-term relationships.

This process not only builds your email list but also gives you a steady stream of leads to nurture and move through your inbound funnel until they’re ready to make a purchase.

Goal #4: Create More Content

Content is necessary for every area of your business. You need content to fuel your email marketing strategy, your blog, and your social media presence. Content also helps in your recruitment efforts and your sales enablement. It’s no wonder one of your goals is to create more content!

To make it work for you, though, you have to consult your marketing plan to put together a content strategy document. Start by outlining the journey that your leads take to discover and engage with your brand. Consider breaking it down by customer type if you have a variety of buyer personas you’re trying to connect with. Use these details to inform the kind of content you already have and the kinds you need to create to appease specific touchpoints and needs.

Create a process for creating content and designate specific team members to own parts of the process so that nothing gets neglected. Factor in an SEO strategy and internal link-building so you can encourage traffic to other high-priority content. And make sure you have a distribution plan in mind so you can get your content out there in front of more eyes.

Goal #5: Improve Customer Retention

There is much more revenue potential in keeping existing customers happy than maintaining a constant flow of new customers. Brainstorm what you need to be doing to retain your current customers, particularly things you can do to offer them an experience they won’t get elsewhere. It’s a lot more productive in the long term than focusing on customer acquisition and will help you build up your brand’s reputation along the way.

Include your customer support and sales team in these conversations. These departments know first-hand the struggles your current and potential customers experience and, therefore, can offer you key insights into what you can enact that will create a better customer experience.

Your CRM is also an invaluable asset when it comes to customer satisfaction. Since it tracks all your customer data and interactions, you can use it to pick up any patterns relating to unhappy customers or inactivity. Perhaps after six months, your CRM shows you that a lot of your customers drop off in engagement. That might be a good time to send your customers an email check-in to make sure everything is going well.

Goal #6: Create More Upsell Opportunities

We know it can seem like an awkward conversation, but there’s almost always an opportunity to sweeten the deal with your customers. Work on marketing and sales strategies geared toward upselling, with an eye toward providing your customers with extras they really need, not just extras that pad your profits. This goes hand in hand with customer retention since you’re showing that you can anticipate your customers’ needs and provide them with solutions they weren’t even aware they needed.

Again, your CRM and marketing automation tool can come in handy with this. Create a task for yourself to touch base with your customers about six months or so into your relationship. This gives you a chance to see how things are going with them, and if there is anything they aren’t loving or could use more assistance with. Be open to adjusting their service offerings or packages if it means they’ll be happier and see better results. You could even enroll them into an upsell campaign that shares other products or tools your company offers that may be of interest to them. And make sure that when you roll out a new product, they’re the first to know about it.

Goal #7: Get More Site Traffic

Aim big with your website traffic. Brand awareness is critical to growing a small business, and it requires a concentrated effort to attract more eyes to what you’re doing. SEO, accessible web design, and cross-channel marketing are all ways to bring more people to your site, and each will help you establish yourself within your industry.

Luckily, if you’re planning on implementing some of the tactics already mentioned (like webinars, guest content, and digital advertising), then you’re pretty much nailing two (or more) birds with one stone. However, make sure that SEO is a part of your content creation process, which will Factor in voice search with your SEO strategy, as well as mobile SEO and local SEO. All are important when it comes to searching online, and you’ll want to make sure your small business has as much skin in the game as possible.

Goal #8: Leverage Social Media Strategically

Social media will remain a vital tool for small businesses to engage with their audience, with a focus on strategic content creation, community building, and leveraging emerging platforms and features to stay relevant.

Focus your efforts on the social media platforms where your target audience is most active. This could be platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or TikTok. Consider the type of content each platform supports and how it aligns with your business goals and audience preferences.

Develop high-quality, engaging content that provides value to your audience. This could include informative blog posts, eye-catching graphics, entertaining videos, user-generated content, behind-the-scenes peeks, and exclusive promotions. Experiment with different types of content to see what resonates best with your audience, and engage with them regularly on these platforms.

Stay consistent when posting content on your social media channels. Create a content calendar to plan out your posts in advance and maintain a consistent posting schedule. Consistency helps keep your audience engaged and reinforces your brand presence.

The best way to get back at 2023 is to have a successful and prosperous 2024. Structure your marketing strategy around these goals that are directly tied to overall success, and as you grow, you’ll be able to get more specific and more impactful with the marketing decisions that you make.

Author Bio:

by Natalie Slyman

Content Marketing Manager