It’s a new year and it’s time to start making resolutions. Forget about the usual “lose weight” or “be a better person,” resolutions that get broken a week into the new year, these resolutions will help you keep your company competitive and bring you more business. Here are the Top 5 New Year’s resolutions all marketers should make this year.

1. Be customer focused

Your customers should be the centerpiece of all your marketing materials. While this sounds very obvious, you would be surprised how many marketers fail at this. For starters, make sure you’re speaking your customers’ language—we often get so familiar with our products and services that we forget the laymen’s terms our customers are using. (Just listen to your mechanic next time you take your car in for service—does he explain what the noise your car is making is, or does he get technical and talk about tie rods and bearings?)

Lose the jargon and buzzwords. Speak your customers’ language and they will reward you with their trust and their business.

Being customer focused goes beyond just communicating well with them. It’s also about going the extra mile for them and showing them that you really care about them. Follow up with your customers and make sure they are satisfied with their purchases. Look for extra value adds you can incorporate into your product offering and handle your mistakes with humility. That’s how you retain customers!

Further reading: Consider speaking your customers’ language, insider tips for tailoring your content for your customers, and how to retain your customers.

2. Improve your customer service

Yes, this is really part of the previous point about being customer focused, but it’s so important, I gave it its own bullet point. As long as there have been customers, customers have complained. Sometimes their complaints are justified, sometimes not. Regardless though, how you handle a customer’s complaint can have a huge impact on your business and if handled poorly, can completely outweigh all the positive marketing you do.

Take care of your customers—even the angry complaining ones—and you’ll be in great shape for 2014.

Further reading: The top 7 tips for managing customer complaints on social media and how to retain your customers.

 3. Be innovative and open to change

The marketing landscape is constantly changing today, and we all need to be flexible and open to change if we want to keep up. We’ve already seen big changes with the proliferation of mobile devices (a trend that’s not going to slow anytime soon).

This year, be innovative—reinvent your customer touch points. Try new things with your marketing—digital media give you the freedom to experiment and adjust things mid-flight without incurring the costs associated with old print advertising.

Changes like these will take some creativity on your part and it may also require a shift in your mindset. For example, if showrooming is threatening your business, is there a way you can turn this weakness into an asset?

Embrace the changes coming this year and use them to your advantage.

Further reading: The secret of radical innovation, the benefits of real-time marketing, and 6 tips to boost your creative powers.

 4. Segment your marketing

Use personas to target your marketing materials. Personas are composites of the vital attributes of your customers. They represent specific demographics of your key customers and are powerful tools for targeting your marketing efforts.

Just as you wouldn’t stand in front of a group and give a presentation without researching your audience, don’t create marketing materials if you don’t know anything about your target customers (or even who they are). Developing personas can help you learn about your customers (and people you want as customers) and then send messages carefully crafted for them.

Further reading: The power of personas in content marketing

5. Make an editorial calendar

This sounds basic, you would be surprise how many marketers don’t have a plan for how to create and publish content. An editorial calendar will help you collaborate across your organization/team to create content. Just as important, having an editorial calendar will enable you to always have content to publish. You can use a simple spreadsheet like I do for this blog, or a fancy, custom-designed program. It doesn’t matter what you use, just that you use something!

Further reading: 6 tips on creating an editorial calendar for your content marketing

How will your 2014 be different from your 2013? Will you make these marketing resolutions? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

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