Spring cleaning is usually a concept associated with home life. It’s when people finally decide to do all of the tasks that they never have time for during the rest of the year, such as sweeping the entire house or throwing out unnecessary junk. The idea of spring cleaning stems from the connotations many people have about spring as a time of renewal when the dark days and cold weather of winter are cast off and everything is born again. As a result, many take advantage of this time to create change in their own lives, including rejuvenating and revitalizing their homes. However, spring cleaning doesn’t just apply to physical spaces. It can be used as an opportunity to revamp your business website and brand, and thus move forward in the year with a new and improved look and feel.
Often, we can fall into the trap of running a business from a day-to-day perspective. This means we may not stop to take a look at the overall operation and its appearance to potential customers and your target market. You have so many tasks to deal with on a daily basis that it’s understandably difficult to prioritize certain tasks that seem less crucial or pressing, like redoing your website or cleaning up your accounting system.
Avoid major issues
That’s why spring cleaning is so necessary — after months or even years of neglect, you can start to notice big issues in how the virtual aspects of your business affect your brand, your bottom line and thus how customers perceive you. Take a proactive stance in the first or second quarter of the year and take advantage of the “spring cleaning” phenomenon. Administer to those parts of your business that you may not think about during the rest of the year.
Start with your branding
There are several items that fall under the category of “spring cleaning” for your business, starting with the big picture. Think about your brand or the way you identify yourself as a business (and thus how customers identify you). Updating your brand won’t always be necessary, but it’s important to at least think about because it affects everything else that you do. If you change your brand around, it becomes important to change your website, marketing materials, packaging, social media and numerous other parts of your business.
Define your brand
So start by defining your brand — what sets you apart from competitors? What words are your customers and members of your target market using to describe your business? How have you expressed your brand identity so far — through your logo, your marketing campaign, your online presence, or anything else? Is this branding effective?
Conceptualize your brand
Some problems with your brand include not having a clear brand in the first place. If you can’t conceptualize it, customers can’t either. That becomes a major issue that can ultimately cause people to go to your competition instead of you. Your brand might also be wrong for the target market that you’re aiming for, or you might need to update your brand to reflect new trends in the industry. Take a look at what your competitors do, and note the changes that took place in their branding over time. Then, consider what the needs of your target market are and how you can meet these with a change in your brand.
Specifics such as logo
After you think about branding in a more conceptual way, get down to the specifics. Will you have to change your logo? This will require a new design, and then will trickle down to everything else that you design, from your website to your product packaging. Make a list of everything you have to change and go through it with your designer. You could leave your logo intact but change something about your marketing campaign in order to revamp your brand. This includes appealing to a new market with new types of advertisements and new imagery. Talk about this with your marketing team and develop a marketing strategy for the upcoming year.
Creating a website may seem like a one-time thing, but the reality is that it needs constant upkeep and maintenance. As technology and design styles change, a website that looked good (or at least decent) five years ago simply may not make the cut anymore. This might occur because it doesn’t appeal to customers visually or because they can’t find it in the first place. Furthermore, if you decide to create a fresher brand, you will need a fresher website to reflect that. A good rule of thumb is to update or revamp your website every two years.
Start by evaluating the appearance and usability of your website. Can customers who visit it easily find what they want? Is everything organized, and are all the links working properly? Is the design aesthetically pleasing, and does it incorporate your latest logo, colors and design style? Ask your customers what they’d like to see from your website, and discuss potential changes that you need to make with your web designer.
You should also take steps to make your site more SEO-friendly so that users can quickly reach it when they search for topics related to your business. SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, is a technique that incorporates keywords into different pages and posts on your site. Whenever someone looks for those keywords in a search engine such as Google, your site may show up higher on the results list and will also appear more frequently with the right SEO keywords. This helps promote your business to people who are looking for something similar to the types of products or services that you offer.
Examine your customer retention rates
Perhaps the biggest question you should ask yourself is not only how many new customers you’ve gained in the past year, but whether those customers are staying with you and continuing to do business with your company. If not, you may have an issue. After all, some customers always leave (whether because they find someone they think is better, or because they simply don’t require your services or products anymore), but if you see a pattern of one-time deals, you should examine the cause behind them.
Send out customer satisfaction surveys to figure out what people are thinking. Is there a problem with your customer service? Do you need to improve your product itself? Maybe your prices are just too steep for continued purchasing. Make modifications as necessary so that you can keep your customers coming back.
Spring is a good time for you to analyze your finance and accounting system because it should be the time that you also take care of your company’s taxes. If you have difficulties filling out the appropriate paperwork and collecting all the information you need before tax day, that may indicate that you have a problem with your organizational or accounting system. Whether this requires a complete overhaul or just a slight modification, however, is up to you.
Check how efficient you are at logging everyone’s numbers, and see if you could improve this by switching to a different program or (if you haven’t already) moving to a completely digital process. One way to do this is by going paperless, which can help streamline aspects such as invoicing. Not only can your customers pay you faster, but you also cut down on time spent mailing things out and you help the environment as well.
What about staffing?
You should also consider efficiency in your staffing — so spring would be a good time to review everyone’s schedules and see when you might need to bring in more people and when you can give people days off. What are your busiest times of the year, when do you have your peak hours, and when might you require extra staffing for holidays and large events? Think as far ahead as possible, as this will help you create an efficient schedule that helps you get work done faster throughout the year that is ahead.
Spring is also a helpful time to conduct annual employee reviews and figure out who you should promote, who you should keep and who you may have to let go. This can be a painful process, as you have likely become attached to the people who work for you, but the reality is that some people may simply not be necessary if you move to a fully digital system or if you offer fewer products this year and thus need to downsize as a whole. Ultimately, it’s about the efficiency of your business, and you should prioritize keeping your finances secure over retaining employees that aren’t helping you move forward in the way that you’d like to do.
Spring cleaning your business website and overall operations can give you the fresh perspective necessary for greater success. Consult with a professional who can help you with branding, logos, website design and maintenance, and developing compelling content that helps generate leads.
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