by Mike Bawden, partner, Bawden & Lareau Public Relations, LLC

You might just be shaking off the holiday “blahs” (it takes time to recover from the holidays which is why the first two weeks of the year are so unproductive), but you could wind up paying for your lack of productivity next year as a result.

Because while you’re focused inward on trying to get “back to work” you could be missing signs of great opportunities that pass by when you’re not looking. This isn’t so much a case of letting a new client slip through your fingers or missing a new product launch date.

No, this is more a case of creating a self-imposed blind spot on your business that will hamper your ability to plan for growth in the coming year.

Your 2019 Marketing Resolutions:

Here are a few easy resolutions for the year that can help you turn 2020 into a success before 2019 enters the fourth quarter:

Take a quick look back

Today – make notes about what’s happened so far this year (before everything just becomes part of the “fog” of everyday business). If you can make notes of business activities in December, so much the better.

Starting today and going forward

Keep track of key events at your business on a calendar. It helps if you make this a regular routine. I do this every morning when I have my first cup of coffee. My notes for the previous day usually include a quick run-down of calls (my phone keeps track of who I call and who calls me), key meetings and large blocks of time dedicated to specific proejcts.

Collect customer names and email addresses

You don’t have to start a direct email program right away, but the more names and email addresses you have when you start, the faster you’ll see a positive ROI on email marketing. It’s as easy as asking customers if they’d like to receive offers from you via email in the future, then taking their name and email address.

Giving customers a little “thank you gift” in return is a good idea, too. A free item or small, courtesy discount is a great way to seal that relationship and let the customer create a connection between that email they’ll receive at some point in the future and the permission they gave so you could send it.

Do a little dreaming – but keep track

Keep a file of events or seminars you’d like to participate in someday but can’t afford to right now. If you see ads you like or articles that are of particular interest, toss them in that file, too. Have a late-night brainstorm? Then add it to the file, there’s always room for more ideas.

So why do all this?

Because planning starts with a full understanding of where you are, where you want to be and who’s going to help get you there.

In a word: research.

And our experience with businesses of all types is that they are usually very short in real-time research – that is there may be financial and sales records we can review, but very little in the way of extemporanious notes made by the people who are actually going to have to implement the marketing communications plan we’re asked to produce.

Whether you work with a firm like BLPR or you meet with your team at the end of the year to talk about what you’re going to do in 2020, you’ll find these notes and “marketing assets” to be of tremendous value as you get ready to enter the third decade of the 21st century.

It’s never to early to start planning for success.