so here we are, a new year is just beginning and everyone is energized to start fresh. it’s a great feeling, but before it fades and settles behind a daily grind, harness and focus your energy so you can let it help you make progress on your most important goals and stay motivated throughout they year.
take stock of where you’re at
if you did any year-end planning or creative retreating, you probably already have a road map for the year ahead. if not, it’s a great time to take a day and look back at the biggest progress you made last year, the most effective efforts, the best projects, and find ways to build on them or continue rolling them out. how did your marketing plans play out for you? were you surprised by the results of any actions you took? better yet, did you learn what worked well and what isn’t worth the effort? do you have lingering projects that stayed on the back burner, that now need attention? does your brand, messaging or site content need a little refresh to match some new directions you’re taking? it’s time to strip down to a mix of what works best for you, toss the rest in a box [you can revisit it later if you want] and refine what you’re keeping so it keeps working for you in the new year.
assess the landscape ahead
knowing yourself, your internal strengths and where to put your energy is one thing, but what’s the terrain you’re going to travel? are you continuing to work with familiar industries and clients, or are you going to develop a new niche? are you in a plateau phase of familiar territory, or in a growth phase where you’ll be learning and trying all kinds of new things? take stock of the things you can depend on, and the areas you’re less familiar with. make sure to keep investing good energy in the familiar places, grow with it and don’t take it for granted. but, what are the biggest things you want to learn about the new places you’re going? can you read up on them, can you research some good starter events to get your feet wet, can you get some initial meetings with friendly informers who are happy to help you get to where you want to be?
pick a strategic blend and plan your moves
once you have a more clear sense of what you do best, how you do it, and the lay of the land ahead, take what you know and apply it—to the calendar! start with what you know: your best and most long-standing clients. plan a mix that works for you, attend the events where you know you’ll see them, think about your own brand touchpoints and which communicate the best with your home-base. you know these people really well at this point, maybe even research how you might better serve them, or find some aspect of their businesses that is largely overlooked. if you’ve attended mixers to see them in the past, consider hosting your own and inviting them for a regular check-in outside the office. in short, make your best relationships even better.
if you’re breaking ground in a new industry or niche, start a regular schedule of research, read the industry blogs, look for events to attend, make contacts and ask questions so you can learn from the personal experience of others. research the archetypes in the industry and get to know how they communicate, what’s important to them, go where they go. eventually, with regular research and exposure, you’ll have a great idea of who might be a good fit for you as a client or what might be a best first project to get your foot in the door.
and, of course, the best way to communicate with them when you’re not actually in the same room is to make information readily available about your own services and show that you’re aligned with this new industry. if you’ve been meaning to refresh your print collateral or web site content in this way, chart it out and put it on the calendar. if you can’t afford the dream overhaul, do the realistic refresh now. as seth godin often says, plan what you can, don’t let fear of failure hold you back from shipping, and put yourself out there!