This year, the tradition of recognizing the most remarkably innovative companies continues, as Lead411 begins the year with the Hottest Companies in Southern California Awards.
Tom Blue, Lead411‘s CEO, says this of 2012′s awards, “This is our 3rd Annual Southern California award. We are pleased with the recognition the Award has received over the past few years, and we are very proud of the respected list of companies for the 2012 winners.”
Everyone else likes to wax on about what we might expect in 2012, so I thought I’d throw my hat in and give you my two cents about what I think we’ll see in 2012.
1. Businesses will continue to ignore the economy. If you haven’t noticed, we stopped whining about the down economy about a year ago, yet conditions haven’t really improved. That shows that the startups and entrepreneurs who have survived the recession are finding ways to trudge on, despite financial conditions. In 2012, I think we’ll see more of that. More businesses reporting profit, more startups launching.
2. Freemium products will grow. A few years ago, no one had heard of MailChimp. Now the email marketing provider is seeing 2,000 or more signups for its free accounts, and has increased paying customers by 150%. Clearly the freemium model works. Small businesses are abandoning companies that charge in favor of free services that offer more. (see my post about why I switched from Constant Contact to MailChimp for that very reason)
Can you believe it’s 2012 already? Where does time go?
Last year, I talked about how having resolutions can help your business. This year I want to give you a few starter resolutions that you can build upon. Most of them are appropriate, no matter what industry you’re in, and no matter what size your business is.
1. Increase Sales by X.
You notice I’m not vague when it comes to increasing sales. It’s easy to not pinpoint a number, but take the high road and actually set a goal. For bigger companies with a sales department, this is easy, as you already have sales metrics in place. But for smaller companies, or for solopreneurs, setting a sales goal may be new to you. Look at your history of sales and try to forecast where you realistically can be by the end of 2012. Then set your sights just a teensy bit higher (shoot for the moon, and all that). At the end of the year, look at how close you actually got to your goal, and use that for next year’s resolution.
If it’s been a while since you worked on your marketing plan, what better time to update it than before the fresh start of a new year? Because technology, tools and pricing for marketing services change, it’s important to keep your marketing strategy updated continually.
Before you start sweating, your marketing plan doesn’t have to be a novel-sized document. It’s simply a couple of pages that explain your goals and how you want to market to reach them this year. You can find dozens of free templates for marketing plans online, and many are different from one another. Find the one you’re comfortable working with. Once you have a plan in place, it’s easy enough to update it each year.