We’ve got 11 actionable resolutions aimed at helping you streamline your business operations – so you enjoy a more profitable and stress-free 2023. If you resolve to make your distributorship or print shop more efficient and productive, you’ll be able to scale easier than ever before.
New Year’s Resolutions to Build Your Business
Choose one, three, five or 11 of the resolutions we’ve outlined below. A single one might add a lot to your bottom line, as well as bring you lots of personal and professional fulfillment.
1. Review your products and services lineup to see if there’s anything you want to eliminate or add. Then, see what investments you need to plan to make that offering happen.
Since COVID-19 changed our life landscape, distributors and decorators have had to pivot to offer new products like masks, or set up online stores and then ship products directly to individual buyers. Heading into 2023, it’s no different. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Are there any products or services that are no longer relevant or popular with your customers? (These are ones to eliminate or scale way back.)
- What products or services can you add that might be more relevant to what your buyers want or need now? (You can survey your customers to find out what’s on their radar. Also, look at your competitors’ sites.)
2. Add an automated chatbot to your ecommerce website.
More and more companies have started using chatbots to deliver better, more immediate customer service on the web. In fact, the chatbot market size is estimated to grow from $2.6 billion in 2019 to $9.4 billion by 2024. That’s in part because 82% of buyers say personalized customer care influences their loyalty – that includes conversations between the brand and the customer in a chat box.
Adding a chatbot cuts some costs and streamlines the customer service process, experience and costs. The bot can provide immediate answers to basic questions 24/7 – prompting customers to take the next step in the ordering process. That can increase customer engagement and conversions. A chatbot won’t replace your human customer service reps; they’ll actually free up your staff to handle more complex questions or customer concerns. Shop owners also can gather data from chatbot interactions to learn more about their customers’ needs and behaviors.
3. Look to influencer marketing as a cost-effective way to get your products and services in front of your target market.
Influencer marketing is a good place to focus your efforts with 89% of marketing pros saying it offers a comparable or better ROI than other marketing streams. Even more compelling, 10x more brands use micro-influencers vs. mega influencers, making it more affordable. Since 80% of consumers have made purchases from a favorite influencer’s recommendation, the key is to find influencers who your target audience follows. Nearly 74% of buyers would spend up to $629 in influencer-prompted purchases so there’s money to be made here.
“Practice your due diligence if you venture into influencer marketing,” says Kristine Shreve, director of marketing at LynniePinnie Designs. “Research to be sure the influencer can really influence their audience and that their numbers are accurate. Anyone can say they’re an influencer, so seek independent proof.”
4. Explore how your business can use personalization in your customer experience and interactions in 2023.
If you’re not convinced that personalization is important, consider this stat: 89% of B2B buyers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations. However, about a third of consumers also worry about their data being misused, so it’s important to honor privacy and explain how you use the information they share. Achieving the right balance might be a work-in-progress, but prioritize this effort in the new year. Tailor product suggestions to returning customers on your site since 80% of people are more inclined to purchase from a company that offers tailored experiences. Work on emailing tailored marketing messages and offers as well – since 320 billion emails get sent every single day, and 72% of shoppers will only respond to personalized ones.
5. Renew your focus on achieving a work-life balance for you and your team – including the importance of remote work, hybrid schedules and flexible hours to your employees.
The pandemic taught business owners a lot about what’s important to their teams. That’s why 85% of companies that decided to offer work-life balance programs and schedules report an increase in productivity. Take the time to learn about what’s most important to your employees so that they can live their best lives outside of work and then show up ready to perform in your shop. When employees have the opportunity to work a flexible schedule or remotely part of the time, 87% say, “Yes, please.” If you can offer hybrid working arrangements and stay productive, have at it.
“Flexibility is so important, especially since the pandemic,” Shreve says. “We’ve discovered work doesn’t have to happen only from 9-to-5 or only in one place. Working with employee schedules and allowing remote work when possible can open you to a greater range of employees and a wider field of service options for your customers. Operating this way requires greater trust and perhaps more coordination, but the results and quality of employees you can attract make it well worth the effort.”
6. Consider how the “future is digital” – and how you can incorporate video “ease” into your business.
Have you added video components to meetings, events, employee onboarding and more? Since 2020, we’ve experienced a huge shift from in-person meetings and events to video-conferencing for almost everything: daily staff meetings, all-company meetings, employee onboarding, sales meetings and vendor chats. The change is mostly positive, no commute to meetings, and people could join in from all over the world. Video chats are a great way to touch base face to face with your employees and clients based nationwide. You can also hold virtual events and meetings that make it almost impossible to not RSVP with an “I’ll be there.”
7. Make it even easier for buyers to order from your website.
The new year is a great time to review your ecommerce website to make it even more attractive and functional for shoppers. Here are some areas to consider when you’re doing that first objective audit of your site:
- Check out your site’s design aesthetic and branding.
- Look at the overall navigational experience.
- Review the copy, including your product descriptions.
- See how effective your “why” and calls-to-action buttons are.
- Evaluate if your SEO is working to attract organic traffic.
- See how easy it is to order and check out on the cart page.
8. Focus even more on customer service, since clients value a friendly, efficient and highly personalized customer service experience.
The key here is learning about what’s most important to your customers and prioritize that in their journey with you. One easy way to do that is to have an online database that includes personalized information about each customer that your reps can easily access when buyers reach out. It’s also important to crunch that data to learn about your customers: Where did they first find you? What compelled them to buy? How do they like to communicate with you? What offers resonate most with them? What social media channels do they interact with you on the most? Do they buy from your ecommerce site, or do they want to place the order on the phone or in person?
“Customer service is so important and can’t be rote,” Sheve says. “The days of hard-and-fast rules and no flexibility are over. Customers want to know and trust the companies they buy from, and customer service staff are your front line in that effort. Take the time to establish relationships with your customers, and be ready to help, even if the help doesn’t result in a sale for you. People remember those who help them, and while they may not buy this time, there’s every possibility a sale will come in the future.”
9. Social media is one of the most critical tools in your arsenal – for exposure, interaction and engagement.
These platforms are still vital to your success, with 52% of people discovering new brands (like yours) on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or whatever site your target market likes. It’s always a good idea to do an audit to see what platforms you’re getting the most engagement on and beef up your posting and engagement schedule. You should pay attention to a newer widespread trend on social media: paid ads. They’re the number four way that people find out about new brands and products. If you want to target a younger demographic, 31% of Gen Zers learn about your products from these paid ads.
“Remember that social media is a marathon, not a sprint,” Shreve says. “Do your research, know who your target market is and where they are on social media, and then set up camp and settle in for the long haul. Don’t assume engagement will come quickly, but be confident it’ll come, if you provide good content, and are responsive and interact with your customers on their favorite platforms.”
10. Market and sell through video content.
Trends indicate that people spend an average of 100 minutes a day watching video. Recipients are more likely to open your email if they read the word “video” in the subject line. A video on your landing page can increase conversions by up to 80%. And we love this: People are more likely to buy a product if they watched a video about it – and extra points if the video includes an influencer. Whether you set up a small video studio in your shop or simply shoot compelling videos with your smartphone, video is a must, not a maybe for your 2023 marketing plan. People aren’t looking for “flashy” videos; in fact, they’re more likely to respond to authentic content, like you showing how you ran a job of 500 screen-printed shirts on a rush order. Make it a point to learn about what types of content your buyers love to watch and create your video content calendar from there.
11. Embrace change – and work smarter, not harder.
If you’re into mindset work, you might have heard a business guru say things like, “Ditch the employee mindset if you’re the boss” or “You don’t get paid for your blood, sweat and tears.” Those are true things: People pay you for the end result – the value you provide and if you helped them achieve their goal. They really don’t care how long it took your team to print the shirts. Make this the year that you review your processes and procedures to remove bottlenecks. That way, your team can truly work smarter, not harder, in a less stressful atmosphere. You’ll likely see a boost in shop morale, with fewer daily “emergencies” to handle.
“Hire a consultant to help improve your business or attend educational conferences to learn and get inspired,” says JP Hunt, president and co-founder of InkSoft. “Join an entrepreneur networking group to make connections and learn from other like-minded business owners. Seek knowledge from experienced mentors and give back by sharing your experience.”
What to Do Today
You’ve got 11 actionable resolutions, with input from decorated-apparel industry experts. These suggestions should help you brainstorm how you can refresh your print shop or distributorship operations in 2023.
“Schedule and execute an all-hands offsite with your team to set achievable goals,” Hunt says. “Blend planning, strategy, goal setting, performance improvement and fun.”
The most important factors in making resolutions you can’t keep include:
- Setting unrealistic goals as their resolutions
- Setting so many resolutions that you can’t focus
- Not tracking their progress
- Not focusing on their resolutions or simply “forgetting” about them.
Instead, try this:
- Choose a few, targeted, realistic goals you and your team can meet
- Create actionable steps and track your progress for the whole shop to see
- Focus on your resolutions and offer your team rewards for hitting those goals.