Wow! It seems like only a few days ago we were trying to figure out what happened in 2013 and we are already staring down the barrel of a new year. (Okay, to be perfectly honest, 2013 WAS only a few days ago, so this works really well if you are reading it on the first few days of January, 2014 – otherwise, try to imagine).

Hopefully you got stuff done, rocked your business, and procured a slew of happy customers. If you did, congratulations.

Now, do it again.

Kermit the Frog - Yay!

Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot of rest in business, and you need to constantly roll with the changes to stay ahead of the competition. So, if you are wondering how you are going to make 2014 kick 2013’s ass, try these on for size.

  1. Redesign your website. I know, I know, Gatorworks does web design, so of course we are going to push people to redesign their websites. But hey, I’m not asking you to use us, necessarily (though, we would love it if you would ☺); I’m just saying that it’s nice to change things up, especially if you haven’t updated your home page since George Bush (the second one…hopefully) was in office. Check out your analytics, install some visitor tracking, and figure out what’s working and what’s not. Then make some changes. A new web design is a great way to stay active in the eyes of your customers.
  2. Start talking to your customers. So, if you’ve either been under a rock the past couple of years, or are simply lazy, you may have missed this little thing called social media. And even if you have the obligatory Facebook page, this doesn’t mean you are using it (or using it correctly). The point of social media is to…well…be social, so figure out where your target audience is hanging out and become active in that space. But don’t simply post updates on new products or news; actually interact with them.
  3. Make analytics the norm. What are your site visitors doing when they come to your website? Are they going to the pages you want them to? Are they clicking the right links? Are they taking the actions you were hoping they would? If you cannot answer these questions you really need to evaluate how you utilize your on-site analytics. There are several books and articles on what to look for and how to read analytics (here’s a good one!) to help you figure it out. If you don’t have time, hire someone (self-serving plug!) to help you decipher all the numbers. And if you don’t have analytics on your website, FIX THAT! It’s free.
  4. Create content that matters. One of the biggest questions people have is “how do I get more traffic to my website?” Another is “how do I get more links?” The answer to both of these questions is simple in theory (and can be pretty difficult in practice) – Give people a reason to do both of these things. Not sure what to write about? It’s a 3-step process. 1. Figure out who your target audience is. 2. Determine what questions they are asking. 3. Write about that! Write blogs. Create videos. Use great images. Do NOT create content for the sake of content. Create content for the sake of helping your audience.
  5. Get smart about online marketing. “You need SEO.” “You need SEO.” – You hear it all the time, but what does it mean, actually? The truth is, SEO is just one spoke of a giant wheel known as online marketing – or inbound marketing, as we like to call it. The truth is, you probably do need SEO, but paid search may be a better option…or a social strategy could be even better. More than likely, you need a combination. You need to look at your website, your audience, and your offering holistically and make an informed decision on which online marketing avenues suit you the best (it may be all of them, or it may just be a couple). Pssst…we can help with that too.

I think it’s a pretty fair assessment to say that none of this is rocket-science. The truth is, you don’t need some fancy, snake-oil solution to get your business going stronger in 2014. All you need is a little hard work.

I’m going to leave you with something my grandfather used to say when people used to ask him if he used magic to grow the giant vegetables in his garden:

“Iowans don’t believe in magic. We believe in hard work, sweat, and determination.”

You don’t have to be from the Midwest to work hard, and you shouldn’t believe in magic either. Do the work. Reap the benefits.