It’s amazing how quickly the holiday season is flying by. New Year’s Day will be here before we know it! With 2020 closing in, so is all the advice from experts, overflowing with recommendations for everything that you need to do and change to make your business more successful. They’ll tell you that you “should” overhaul your marketing strategy, that you “have to” start preparing for changes in search engine optimization, or that you “absolutely must” learn to navigate new developments in social media. The suggestions are endless, and they all follow a common theme: throw out everything you did in 2019 to make room for 2020.
Is it necessary to take such a drastic approach, though? Is running a successful business in 2020 really going to be that much different from 2019? Does it make any sense to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch?
The truth is, how much you need to change your business in the new year depends on how well things have been going for you up to this point. It’s certainly important to identify problem areas, and if your system for doing things is not helping you connect with and serve your clients in the best possible way, then of course that needs to be addressed. There is no one-size-fits-all solution; you simply have to look at what is working and what isn’t, and make your adjustments accordingly. Throwing everything out and starting over is rarely necessary, but occasionally certain aspects of your business will need a more major overhaul.
There’s one thing that definitely doesn’t change from year to year, though, and that’s the importance of keeping your clients at the center of your business strategy. The whole point of being in business is to provide services and products that make life easier for the people you’re serving. Without that as your number one priority, all the marketing advice in the world won’t matter.
In reality, when we’re back at work in January, how we bring value to our clients won’t change all that much. It will still be about relationships, service, innovation, and erasing friction so that interactions are as seamless as possible. Sure, there will be adjustments to the process along the way. There may be some new tools that come in handy, or a new type of software that helps streamline the work. But at the end of the day . . . your fingers will still have to do the walking, your mouth the talking, and your actions delivering on your promises!
When you work in the non-profit sector, there’s a constant struggle to be heard above the noise of all the other organizations trying to raise funds. Most donors have a set budget that they put aside for yearly charitable contributions. With so many worthwhile causes out there, the deciding element in where the money goes often comes down to the presentation and “wow factor” of a particular fund appeal.
We have a non-profit customer that works globally in the environmental field. Every year their fund appeal is innovative and amazing . . . and their results prove that what they are doing is effective.
They recently wanted to show their clients the value of a $1 contribution, by demonstrating how we spend a dollar in the United States compared to the value of a dollar in third-world countries. Their focus is protecting the rainforest, stopping habitat loss before it begins, and saving endangered species. They are GuideStar Platinum rated and have a track record of more than thirty years of conservation successes.
They designed a wonderful infographic for their donors. It was printed on a 20 x 29 sheet of paper that was folded to 10 x 14.5. Unfortunately, there isn’t a stock envelope available to handle that size. In order to accommodate their needs, we developed a custom envelope that would contain the infographic, an appeal letter, a magnet, and other information collateral. The envelope was then digitally printed and die cut. We were even able to address the envelopes during printing, which meant that after die cutting and finishing, they were immediately ready to be stuffed and mailed.
The result was an oversized and unusual envelope that stood out in the mail and screamed to be opened. Inside the envelope were beautifully printed pieces, each personalized to the donor. Imagine receiving something like that in your mailbox. Certainly it would be the very first thing that caught your attention, the piece of mail that you’d be most curious about opening. The contents would not disappoint, either – impeccably designed printed materials with a personal touch to add to the impact of the message.
This time of year is especially important and especially challenging for non-profits. Your job is to come up with a creative fund appeal concept that will stand out above the rest and grab your donors’ attention. Our job is to help you make that concept a reality.
The holiday season is very nearly upon us, and for most of us that also means it’s gift-giving season in some capacity. While family, friends, and coworkers are usually at the tops of all our lists, it’s also important to give back in a wider sense, and as business owners there’s a particular responsibility to keep this in mind.
Those who are familiar with the 32-year-plus history of Stafford Printing know of our commitment to the community. Whether through monetary contributions or donating our services, we have a longstanding tradition of supporting our local community in any way we can.
The list of who we support is long, but here are a couple of examples.
- We received acknowledgement today from Legal Aid Works (@legalaidworks on FB) for being a long-time sponsor of their Jazz4Justice event. We feel it’s important for low-income area residents to have equal access to legal services, and the organization’s dedicated and experienced staff work hard to help clients fight for their rights in many different types of cases, such as housing, family law, consumer rights, unemployment benefits, and immigration.
- Another organization we proudly support is Loisann’s Hope House, a shelter whose mission is to take families from homelessness to permanent housing. I serve on the Board of Directors and am part of a team that coordinates the annual Concert of Hope, a fundraiser that brings world-renowned performers to the stage to benefit the shelter.
There are many other groups and agencies we work with; these are just two recent examples. The Stafford region is exceptional when it comes to support for our civic organizations, and as a small business owner it’s incumbent that we donate our time and talents to help our community.
If you haven’t already, take some time this week to plan out exactly how you’d like your business to give back this holiday season, as well as the rest of the year. You can donate money, offer free services, or even arrange for you and your employees to volunteer your time at a local organization. Whatever way you choose to contribute, you’ll be not only helping the community, but also enriching the culture at your own place of business.
Who wants to think about the new year in September? It may seem a bit premature, but for business owners, the end of 2019 will be upon us before we know it. If you don’t start preparing soon, you’ll take your business into 2020 without a clear sense of direction for what you want to accomplish. The best time to start getting your ducks in a row is right now, but what are the most productive ways to set yourself up for strong growth as we finish one year and start a new one?
One last marketing push. There’s still time for 2019 to shine, so take advantage by pulling out all the stops. Email may be the easiest place to start, but don’t forget the power of printed promotions.
A holiday card that means something. So many businesses send out a generic, cheap-looking card that was clearly a last-minute afterthought. No one wants to receive that; it’ll go straight in the trash. If you start now, you have plenty of time to make a statement by creating a card that is interesting, personal, and well-designed. Don’t wait until the first week of December to start thinking about this! Show your customers that you care about the little details.
An end-of-the-year customer survey. Were your customers happy with your business this year? Is there any service or product they wish you would start offering? Are they even familiar with all the services you currently provide? A year-end survey with carefully-constructed questions can provide you with both clarity and direction. Doing this may feel a lot like the dreaded performance review, but that’s a good thing – it’ll give you the information you need to start making adjustments to any plans you have for the next year.
A look ahead to the 2020 trade shows. Be honest: how long has it been since you freshened up your booth and marketing materials? At the very least, you probably need to have a few things reprinted, but while you’re at it, this is a good opportunity to look over everything you have and assess the need for editing and rewriting, updates to your designs, or even a complete rebranding.
With the holidays just around the corner, we’re heading into a great time of year full of parties and customer events. Don’t forget, though, that it’s also a time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished this year, and start making plans and taking action to get ready for 2020.