by Lori Prosio 

This past year has flown by, and — ready or not — 2018 is just on the horizon. You’ve probably already outlined a number of resolutions that you plan to implement on Jan. 1. Maybe it’s working out or committing to keeping in touch with relatives.

But what about resolutions in business? Did you put together a business or marketing plan last year and recently realize that you didn’t stick to it as much as you’d intended? The new year is a great time to review your plans and goals, assess success and refine as needed before launching a new effort

Most businesses know the importance of having a marketing plan, but not everyone commits to reviewing it after the excitement of the first draft wears off. If you don’t properly market, you can’t easily create a profile in your industry or maintain steady growth. And using an old marketing plan may not work, because what worked this year may not work next year. Here are the things to consider if it’s time to update your plan.

  • Identify new objectives. What are you planning to do with your business in the coming months? Are you looking to increase your bottom line? Are you interested in pursuing new leads for industries that aren’t currently in your portfolio? Any new direction that you’re considering should be laid out on paper and goals clearly defined, along with the marketing strategies needed to achieve those goals. Make your marketing goals specific and measurable.
  • Build in milestones. While a new year may be a great reminder to update your marketing plan, it shouldn’t be a “one and done” approach. Build in checkpoints throughout the year so you have plenty of time to refine your efforts before it’s too late and too many resources have been wasted. Quarterly check-ins on your plan are a good idea; the objectives you set or the capabilities you have to meet them in the first quarter may be completely different a few months later.
  • Know industry trends. Are there new skills or capabilities that, if you could offer them, would help you better meet the needs of current clients, or possibly earn you new ones? It’s important to stay current and relevant in your industry. Regularly survey the market on new trends and offerings, and include them in your marketing plans. Then, get to work making sure you have all the resources you need — staff, equipment, training — to build your success in the coming months with these new offerings in place.
  • Develop a budget. Find the proper balance between marketing the business and executing the work you already have, and be honest about your available resources. If you need to hire to meet your business goals, be sure to account for that in your plan.

A little bit of analysis and some strategic forward thinking can easily help to ensure yourself, and your business, are on track for success. Set aside some time to consider ways to improve your business efforts and proactively market your business. Take advantage of new opportunities to set the tone for new business possibilities, a new company profile and a renewed sense of who you want to be.

A version of this article originally appeared in the November 6, 2015 edition of the Sacramento Business Journal.