Your Business Success Checklist for 2016

by Gail Oliver, Online Marketing Consultant

As we are in the final months of 2015, it is a good time to look at your business and decide how successful your year has been so far and what changes you need to make to have continued success in 2016.

business success checklist 2016

1. Are Your Sales Increasing?

It is critical that you compare your sales from year to year, as well as month over year (for example, are your August 2015 sales stronger than your August 2014 sales). This really helps you see overall annual growth as well as if you have any seasonal highs and lows.

I highly recommend you set up a spreadsheet where you enter your sales for each month of the year (in a column) with sales for the previous year’s months in the column to the left. Then in the column to the right of your current sales determine your sales growth, by month and by year, by entering the calculations:

[sales for Month X 2015 – sales for Month X 2014] / sales for Month X 2014

[sales for 2015 – sales for 2014] / sales for 2014

This will arrive at a percentage. Overall sales should never be down from the previous year. If this is the case, then you need to rethink your business in terms of your offerings, your pricing, your costs and whether you need to invest more in marketing.

2. Are Your Costs Increasing?

It is also important to look at your profit, which is Revenue – Costs. Is your profit up over last year and month over year? Again, if profits are down you need to consider raising your prices and/or lowering your costs, especially if your revenues increased. It doesn’t have to be a huge price increase. If profits are down 10%, then you can easily raise your prices 10% and it should have little negative impact on your business. If your costs have increased, then you need to analyze each cost center (be it supplies, fees, shipping) and see which ones increased in price and find alternatives.

3. What Were Your Revenue Leaders?

Look at which products and/or services performed the best for you in 2015 and consider expanding further in this area, slowly eliminating or reinventing products and services that did not sell as well.

4. What is Working For Your Competitors?

Take a look at your competitors and see what they are selling, what their customers are saying in their reviews and on their social media sites. Try to garner what is working for them in terms of their business offerings and marketing efforts and see which ideas you can steal.

5. Are You Listening to Your Feedback?

Listen to your customers. Read your reviews, comments, feedback, even ask your customers questions. If they feel your prices are too high, consider lowering them if that makes business sense. If they didn’t like the quality of a product, improve upon it. If there is a product or service you don’t have that they want, consider offering it.

6. What Marketing Efforts Are Working?

You need to study your website analytics, even though it will not tell you which traffic sources converted into sales, it is still a way to decide which efforts you should be spending time on and which you should maybe discontinue. For example, if two-thirds of your traffic is coming from Pinterest and very little from Twitter, then stop wasting time on Twitter and dedicate even more time to Pinterest. If your Google ads are not bringing in a lot of traffic, contact a Google Adwords rep and ask how your ads can be improved. If you have been avoiding social media altogether, then maybe now’s the time to give it a chance. Remember, it is futile to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.

7. Are You Maximizing Your Customer Base?

How many new customers did you get last year? Guess what, they are still potential customers in 2016! Find ways to tap into your already established customer base – either through special offers on your social media sites or a Mail Chimp email campaign – to get additional business from them (as well as referral business) in 2016.

Just 3 More Things to Do…

Thanks so much for your support!


© 2015 Gail Oliver, Attention Getting Marketing. All rights reserved.

Content Ideas for a Blog for an Online Shop



Hi Gail,

I’ve been making a lot of changes to my business and feel that quality content on my new website is needed in order to be found in searches. Honestly, I’m a little confused by it. I understand quality content from a bloggers point of view but for an e-commerce site, I’m not sure what to put on there that is going to get me found in searches where people will be looking to buy my products. My main focus is to promote my Smoosh Boxes right now. 



Hi Brittany,
Good question. Yes, bloggers whose blog is their actual business is much different from a blog for an online shop. Since you are targeting dog owners, and your new product is a monthly subscription box service, there is a variety of content you can post that your potential customers will be searching on. Then, as a result, they will hopefully stumble upon your online shop via your blog posts.
Here are some ideas for content that I think your target market is searching for, based on using Google’s auto-complete feature. You start by typing in “dogs”, “French bulldogs”, “dog lovers” etc., and see what longer search phrases come up. This is a good way to determine potential blog titles and content.
  • 15 Christmas Gift Ideas for Dog Lovers
  • 5 Awesome Monthly Subscription Boxes for Pet Owners
  • 8 Boston Terrier Puppy Training Tips
  • 20 Male Dog Names & Their Meaning
  • 12 Non-Shedding Dog Breeds
  • 10 of the Cutest Puppy Videos on YouTube

You do not always have to write original content, you can curate content as long as you give credit. Now, because you are primarily an e-commerce site and not a blogger by trade, you just have to post once a week. You may want to make it on #WoofWednesday.

Best of luck!


Just 3 More Things to Do…

Thanks for your support!

© 2015 Gail Oliver, Attention Getting Marketing. All rights reserved.

Tuesday’s Ask Gail: How To Maximize Radio Ad Dollars



Hi Gail!!

For my husband’s brokerage business he has traded his services for $7,000 worth of radio advertising.  He was thinking of having them interview him or a recent seller that used his services.  How do you advise we use these radio marketing dollars?



Hi Melissa,

First of all he was smart to barter. I always recommend small businesses barter their products or services to get any kind of advertising – radio, print, online, in-store, etc.

Since his consulting business involves business coaching, instead of an interview where he is asked general questions about what he does, I think it would be better if he took questions from listeners/small business owners, sort of what I am doing here. It is a good way for him to show his expertise and that is more likely to lead to future business for him. Not sure how far the $7,000 will go, but if he could do a 10-minute Q&A every Friday at the drive home hour, say for the month of September, that might be a good lure for listeners and benefit the radio station as well.

Otherwise, instead of spending the money on ad time (which would also mean you have to create an ad, which can be costly), you could simply ask the radio station to say your company’s name in various sponsorship type announcements. For example, “Today’s weather is brought to you by BDM Consulting. If you need business coaching or are looking to buy or sell a business, visit them at” You can sponsor traffic reports, local entertainment news, whatever they have an opening for. This could get your name heard several times a day, and repetition in radio is always a good thing.

I hope that helps!


Every Tuesday I answer your questions, so send yours to 

© 2015 Gail Oliver, Attention Getting Marketing. All rights reserved.

Tips for Success When You’re a Newbie in a Crowded Market

by Gail Oliver, Marketing Consultant

Are you just about to dive into a market that many others are already in, and doing it well? Are you offering a service that so many other, more experienced people with huge client bases are also offering?


So what to do when you are newbie or late entrant into your market? Give up? No. There is always room for new players, if you do one or both of these things:

  • Improve upon the weaknesses of your competitors
  • Find a niche no one else is targeting

Improve Upon Competitors’ Weaknesses

No company is perfect. Even successful companies like Apple have their weaknesses. One of the biggest complaints people have had for years is that  the iPhone has a horrible battery life. If another company were  to come along and offer everything the iPhone does, plus superior battery power, that may be enough for some customers to switch over.

Maybe you just opened a dental practice, and all the dental offices in your city close at 5:00 pm, frustrating those patients who can’t afford time off work. Simply keep your office open to 8 pm just a few days a week, to capitalize on this need.

A great way to find competitors’ weaknesses is to go to Yelp and read what their customers are saying. Whatever customers hate about their business, make sure these will be the things people will love about yours.

Find a Niche or Specialty to Target

The worse thing you can ever try to do as a business is try to be all things to all people. If you can find and specialize in a niche, you will have much better success. For example, if you have just become a realtor, finding new clients is always a challenge. You can target the newlyweds or the empty nester looking to downsize, like everyone else is, or you go after a niche your colleagues may not have considered, such as the out-of-town-buyer. Approach the Human Resources department of local companies who appear to be doing a lot of recruiting from other cities and states for new talent. This new talent will need help finding a new home, and that is where you can make sure you get first crack at the business.

Maybe you sell gadget cases for phones and devices. Everyone seems to be targeting their designs towards the female market, but why not create cases whose designs specifically target kids. Do you know how many young kids have a phone and/or iPad these days? In fact, iPad cases for kids is a top Google search because this segment of the market is growing so fast. Don’t be surprised if soon all pre-schoolers have their own phone. Jump on the new and upcoming market segments if you hope to be a leader in your field.

GB OliverNeed My Advice?  Email me at to find out how I can advise and come up with some creative marketing ideas just for you.

© 2012-2014 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.



Weekend Reading List: Small Business Links You May Have Missed

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Marketing Consultant


Interesting News From the Past Week:

600BlogVerbalConsulation-2Need Help With Your Small Business?

I offer a 30-minute marketing consultation by phone or Skype, where you can ask me any questions about the marketing of your small business and I will give you my advice, ideas and tactics to try.  The cost is just $49 US. You can order here.




Weekend Reading List: Small Business Links You May Have Missed

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Marketing Consultant

WEEKEND READING LISTIn case you don’t follow me on social media, this is what you missed this week:

Small Business Marketing IdeasNeed more reading material? If you like my blog, you’ll love my ebooks because I save my best secrets for in here! My ebooks, Small Business Marketing Ideas That Work!, are packed with my exclusive advice, proven tactics and little known tips to market and promote your online business so you get more sales. Available for download here.




8 Key Ingredients for a Successful Business

by Gail Oliver, Marketing Consultant

Here are the hard facts about having a successful business. THERE IS NO MAGIC SECRET. Anyone who tells you there is, is lying. If you expect success to come quickly and easily, you might as well stop now.

8 Key Ingredients for a Successful Business

  1. You have to truly believe that  your business will be successful. It doesn’t matter if anyone else does, it only matters that you do. Negativity and doubt breed negative results.
  2. You have to work hard. I don’t know anyone who is successful and didn’t have a long, hard road getting there. Expect to invest endless hours in your business, especially in the beginning. But once you have a steady customer base and a good reputation, things will come easier.motivational small business quote
  3. You have to be patient. Nothing happens overnight, and you really don’t want too much success too quickly if you are not prepared to handle it. That can hurt your business. So set goals you wish to achieve daily, monthly and yearly and see those as a measure of success to stay motivated.
  4. You have to be willing to change your strategy. I am constantly reminded of the famous quote, “Stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results“. If your current marketing efforts are not working, why keep doing them, try something else.

    motivational business quotes
    This art print is from LuciusArt on Etsy
  5. You have to stop comparing your business to other people’s. I get this a lot. Why is this company that does the same thing I do, so much more successful? It could be a variety of reasons. First to market always helps. Maybe they have a large friends and family referral business. Maybe they had a personal contact at a major publication that brought substantial publicity. Maybe it’s just pure luck. Who knows for sure. Forget about them and focus on you. I have competitors, we all have competitors, but it is a large marketplace and you can carve out your own niche.
  6. You have to take the professional advice you are given. I have a lot of clients who come back to me asking why they are not getting results, only to find out they did not implement all the tactics I suggested, probably because they are hesitant to change (read #4 again). The truth is, you are not objective about your own business as you are just too close to it. So if you pay for professional advice trust what they are saying to do and do it.

    Inspiration quotes for business
    This art print is from
  7. You have to invest in your business. Whether it is consulting services, advertising, graphic design, SEO, and so forth, you have to spend money to make money. If you are not willing to invest in your business, you are not serious about it.
  8. You have to not give up. Failure is part of being successful. Everyone fails, the difference is successful people keep trying, they don’t give up.

My Marketing Services 

My Ebook Shop

© 2012-2015 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.