Everyone starts the new year with the best intentions. From a personal perspective, we vow to exercise more, drink less, eat better and stop worrying about the little things.

In business, we go through a similar process. We focus on starting the year off right to ensure we have momentum. So, how can you do that in your marketing and sales efforts?

Resolution 1: Embrace technology

As the world becomes smaller and our markets more global, I don’t think there’s a business owner out there who doesn’t realise digital is going to have a heavy impact on their future.

Digital transformation is happening right across our businesses; for example, we use cloud applications for everything from accounting software to storing business information.

Marketing is no different. The stark reality is that all of our clients now live in a digital world. If you’re not examining your marketing spending and looking at how you can use your website, digital assets like social media, and online campaigns, you’re risking being left behind or even lapped by your competitors.

From a sales perspective, digital tools such as LinkedIn are crucial in today’s market. From a research perspective, it allows you to get proper backgrounds on clients and target your messaging.

Resolution 2: Make a strategic plan

If you haven’t developed a strategy for 2018, get started. As I’ve written before, strategy doesn’t need to be War and Peace. Target developing three or four key strategies that you and your team believe will deliver results this year, then align your sales and marketing efforts to them.

Remember, building good strategy is a journey, you learn more and more as you go along. Tweaks to the plan are inevitable but the key is having one. It stops you from being completely reactive and ad hoc in your marketing/sales approach.

Resolution 3: Be different

We see the same messaging time and time again in financial services. If everyone looks vanilla, why would a client choose you over another firm?

You need to have a deeper and wider understanding of your client. There’s no point in hammering on the same old messages around your experience. Think about why your clients work with you. What makes you different?

Focus your efforts on showing a client why they should work with you, don’t just bring out the same old messages around experience and understanding. You’re a financial planner; they know that you know finance!

Resolution 4: Tailored content is king

Content has been the marketing go-to tactic for some time and for good reason. Done well, it drives your clients to your business.

The problem is that we now have content overload, as more and more businesses churn it out in an effort to engage with their clients. This clutter can make it hard to get cut through, as consumers become bombarded with thousands of messages a day.

Following on from resolution 3, don’t just drive content about finance. Think about what keenly interests your clients; for example, most clients want to drive the finances harder for security and lifestyle reasons. So why not explore topics around lifestyle? Think about the client, not what you do.

Also, don’t just write. While written content is still important, also think about how you can work video, infographics and other media into you plan. No one likes a one-trick pony.

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Anthony O'Brien is a principal of corporate marketing and communications firm Corpwrite. He is a business and personal finance writer with experience extending over 20 years in the communication industry.