Christmas is just around the corner, Hanukkah has just begun, and year-end is coming at us fast and furious as we continue planning for 2013. In these final days of 2012, it’s a good idea to review the year and make a list of hits and misses. Ask yourself and your team what you did well, and what can you improve next year. Maybe you tried something new this year that seemed as if it was going to work, but in the end you found that it wasn’t as good an idea as you initially thought it was. We all make mistakes from time to time and we need to learn all we can from them and then admit that we need to make changes and move on. All successful business owners do this and we should do it as well.

Last week I attended the Best Seller Publisher Institute (BSPI) in Bellevue, WA, along with my good friend and best-selling author, Mark Matteson. The conference, hosted by international best-selling author Patrick Snow, Creating Your Own Destiny, along with awesome presentations by Mark Matteson, helped attendees polish their book marketing skills so they can promote their books. I came away from that experience with ten solid ideas from Patrick and Mark for marketing my book, learned ways to improve my speaking skills, and consultative selling.

When was the last time you attended a marketing conference or scheduled time with a marketing coach to help you work through areas of your business that can use some adjustment? All of us can use some professional fine-tuning from time to time to help us stay on top of our game. A coach can take a hard look at your business and help you see areas where improvements can add dollars to your bottom line.

There are five strategies, business owners’ need to be aware of in order to grow their business. The first one is foundational strategies; when you build a house, you have to start with a solid foundation and it’s the same with a business. In business, a solid foundation requires planning, a business plan, a strategic plan, a marketing plan, a succession, and others. Entrepreneurs love to skip right over these and get into the doing stage, but that’s a mistake that many make. Even if you’ve been in business for 30 years and your company has never had a business plan or done any planning, it isn’t too late to start.

The second strategy is what I call success strategies. Success strategies are the strategies that define who you are and why you are in business. Success strategies also show what value you offer, why others should buy from you and defines your customer. Do you know your best customer? I’m not talking about just their name; I’m talking about their demographics. Could you define that customer in terms of location, occupation, income, marital status, etc? Would you know where to find more customers that are exactly like your best customer? Do you know why they buy from you and not your competition?

The third strategy is management strategies. This is not management in terms of managing your company; this is management in terms of managing your time, your budget, your actions, and managing change. When trying to grow your business without breaking your budget, you have to maximize your marketing and promotion efforts. With a solid marketing plan based on the strategic objectives of your business plan you can use it as a decision making tool to decide if a marketing offer advances your strategic plan or not. When you have a plan, it’s easy to say no to opportunities that don’t advance your objectives; otherwise you might become stuck in the “I’ll try it” trap.

The fourth strategy is awareness strategies. These strategies include establishing your brand, and maximizing the use of public relations and press releases. These strategies cut through the clutter so that your message can be heard and received. They also develop the perception of your business that you want your customers to have. Using these strategies to capitalize on awareness is vital to the growth of your business because if you don’t establish your brand and develop a perception about your company that you want your customer to have, somebody else will do it for you and you may not like what they come up with or say about you.

The fifth strategy is growth strategies. Once you’ve done all of your homework and you truly know your company, your mission, your customer and the value you bring to the table, you can begin to create a buzz. You can determine how to stand out from the crowd of competitors, and then use social media and your digital footprint to accelerate the growth of your company. All of these strategies mesh like gears in a gear train. If any of the gears are out of place, the whole thing grinds to a stop. When you’ve developed all of these strategies, you leverage your efforts. Then it will take little effort to explode the growth you need.

My website contains links to all the marketing articles I’ve written for the HVAC-Talk Newsletter. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of my new book, Navigating the Marketing Maze, click here. If you need a branding consultation, a complete strategic marketing plan, or help with marketing services, call or send an email to discuss your needs.

Andy Fracica is president and CEO of Fracica Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing, and social media strategy. He has over 30 years of sales, marketing, and product management experience in the heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. He concentrates on helping companies deliver their message in an ever increasingly crowded market by helping HVAC dealers more effectively market their businesses without breaking their budgets. Contact him at 260-338-4554, andy@fracicaenterprises.com or visit the Fracica Enterprises, Inc. website.