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I’ve been thinking about trends and suggestions for sales and marketing your small business in the New Year. Based on the current state of the economy, some of the “old” advertising and marketing methods are not going to work. This list of 10 suggestions will help you remain viable and profitable in the New Year. If you have any others to add to the list, please share them.

#1 Emphasize results. Now, more than ever, the focus will be on results. Clients will be seeking the best return on investment for all of their purchases. How can your business more effectively and efficiently demonstrate results for your clients? This is the time to capture testimonials of these results- and use them on your website, blogs, and in other promotional media.

#2 Emphasize referrals. The shortest sales cycles are those which result from referrals. If you have not focused very much on generating referrals, this is an easy to implement, no-cost way to grow your business. Benefiting from referrals is easiest when you know your ideal client and what results they most desire.

#3 Tell “teaching stories”. A “teaching story” is, simply, a story of some results you helped a client achieve, but worded in a way so that it is generally applicable. These kind of “teaching stories” make it easy for potential clients to know you are a good match for them. You know you have a good “teaching story” when clients remark that your “teaching story” sounds exactly like them. These kind of stories are powerful shortcuts for delivering your marketing message.

#4 Emphasize your brand. This is a good time to get around to all those business branding efforts you might not have focused on too much lately. Does your business card need updating? How about your website? Do you have a blog? An online media kit? Are all of these fresh, current, and representative of who you are now? (This is one of the areas I’m focusing on very heavily in the first quarter of 2009.)

#5 Understand your most valuable promotional strategies (VPS). Do you know which promotional strategies are responsible for bringing you the most clients? If not, it’s time to start tracking this. This will help you know better where to focus your marketing efforts. If you do have marketing which is working well, how can you improve on it even more? Little improvements can make a big difference.

#6 Develop new skills. The new economy requires each of us to go past our comfort zones and build new skills. Anything you do in your business could, potentially, become a product or service line. Are you staying current with your industry? Are there skills you could develop which would make you more efficient and effective? Would these be skills your clients would pay for?

#7 Focus on adding new marketing and distribution channels. It’s not enough anymore to have a website and a blog. You also need to be involved in social media. You need to be spreading your message as far and wide as you can, by leveraging technology. Set up automatic marketing channels (AMC’s) which work for you 24/7/365. This is especially important if you are a solopreneur. Examples of AMC’s would be your website, blog, autoresponder series, voicemail, videos, audios, and articles.

#8 Develop passive profit streams. Taking the knowledge you have, plus some of the new delivery mechanisms available through technology, and you have a recipe for profit. Share your knowledge in the form of audios, videos, and ebooks. Build a step-wise system for prospects to become clients. Aside from bringing you income, informational products also help you prequalify your best long term clients.

#9 Build patience and perspective about the future. Instead of focusing on what might happen, shift your attention to what you can make happen. Maintaining a sense of personal autonomy and capability is a huge source of strength in the challenges of building a business.

#10 Create space for creativity and innovation. It is possible to create results very quickly when you give yourself space and time to find creative solutions. Obstacles are not a sign that you’re on the wrong track. They are a signpost that you should keep going.

How about you? What strategies are you implementing to grow your business in the New Year? I’d love to hear from you. Thanks and Happy Holidays!