What’s Your Plan for 2008?

For many businesses the holidays are the busiest time of the year. But now that the holidays are over it’s time to plan for this year’s activities. Jerry Heisler, president of the Heisler Group, Inc., strongly suggests that you plan ahead to be sure you are touching all of the bases you want to cover in the New Year. Here are some of his thought starters:

1.) How much would you like to grow your business in the New Year? (What do you need to do to achieve your growth plans?)

2.) How many new customers do you want to add? (What can you do to keep the customers you’ve got?)

3.) How are you going to achieve that growth? (Advertising: direct mail, newspapers, Yellow Pages. Promotions: sales, special events, loyalty programs.)

You get the idea. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but you do need to have a road map to where you want to go. Once you know, start inputting your calendar with the dates of when you’re going to do your advertising, hold your sales, or your events. Nothing is cast in stone and you can alter your plans as the year progresses, but a plan is absolutely essential.

Need ideas to keep yourself in front of your customers? Try these.

Do you have lots of holiday merchandise on hand? Hold a sale.
January has always been a great time for post holiday sales. Why not gather up merchandise that didn’t sell at the holidays and have a sale? If you’d like to know how well your promotional efforts are working, offer a discount to customers that bring in the postcard you mailed to them. That way, you will be able to measure the effectiveness of your program.

Do you have a new product or service to offer? The beginning of a new year is a great time to start.
Perhaps you have a new service you are offering or improvements to an existing program. What better time to begin then in a brand new year? Are you a photographer who has a new portrait style? Do you run a health club with new membership offers? How about a restaurant with a brand new menu?

A colorful mailer with a special offer is an excellent way to introduce your new offerings. Be sure you offer something of value to the recipient. How about a discount if you buy the product or service within the next two weeks? As we’ve mentioned before, your mailers will perform in direct proportion to how well you offer something of interest to the recipient. Most people are interested in knowing what you can do for them. So be sure and tell them.

Have you considered a loyalty program?
Every business depends upon having a large group of loyal customers who keep coming back day after day, year after year. A loyalty program is a great way to encourage people to keep doing business with you.

By loyalty program, I’m referring to offering your customers some reward for being loyal to your business. The airline frequent flyer programs are among the biggest loyalty programs around. As we all know, they give miles that can be redeemed for free flights, hotel stays, merchandise, and other benefits. They work.

What can you do to start a loyalty program in your business? Think about some of these:

• A card that you mark or punch every time the customer visits. After a certain number of visits, the customer receives a benefit.

• 10 cups of coffee and you get a free cup.

• 12 car washes and the 13th one free, or perhaps a free service, such as a wax job after the 12th visit.

• Membership to an elite group after so many purchases.

• Visit us three times and you then become a member of our “Preferred Buyers Club.” Members receive advance notice of sales, 10 percent discounts, and invitations to special, private events.

• Buy our products or service six times a year and we’ll waive our normal $50 membership fee. (Several of the major car rental firms charge annual dues to be in a “Preferred Group,” but with a minimum number of rentals, they waive the charge.)

Can you schedule an event?
Events are another means of keeping yourself in front of your customers. Art galleries regularly hold “showings,” where a particular artist is featured, often with the artist present. Refreshments or cocktails might be offered. This draws in present and potentially new customers.

Home improvement contractors can hold a “show,” where they display their products and services.

Remember, whatever you do, be sure there is something in it for the customer. The event itself offers the opportunity to see products and services. Be sure to enhance the experience for your customer by offering a gift, a discount, or something else of value. Always ask yourself….is this something I would want to attend if someone invited me? If not, what would it take to make you want to go? If it wouldn’t excite you, it’s not likely to attract your customers and prospects either.

Hopefully, we’ve given you some things to think about in the New Year. Jot down some additional thoughts of your own. Plan to get your business off to a fast and profitable start.

---Source: Reprinted from Modern Postcard Dec. 2007 issue (


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Melissa Data

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