At the beginning of 2019, we set out our “NorthIQ Goals for 2019”, which we work on during the January 1 – December 31 Calendar year, we’ve been doing this for the last three years, and in the next few days we’ll start in on our 2020 goals. Before we start with new goals though, it’s important to look at where we’ve been, and what we’ve done.
This year we worked on creating meaningful and measurable goals that would get us where we wanted to be. We didn’t put out a bunch of unrealistic “Grow the business by Eleventy Eight Billion Percentage Points”, instead we found some specific key metrics, and we worked on improving those.
Our main goals were to find more clients, use our own tools, invest in the business, and refine our tools.
Each one of these goals would create a number of add-on results, and overall we did really well with those goals. Some of our goals changed over the course of the year as we learned new things. While we planned on releasing 26 blog posts on NorthIQ, we pivoted instead to create content on pillar pages that would help us get found by people looking for what we do. Conversely we created even more content on Manage Comics, and we’ve positioned ourselves for some very cool things this year.
Here is a review of our goals from 2018.
Find more clients
Our goal was to find more clients, specifically in London and the surrounding area. Working with new clients exposes us to new things every time, and we’ve become better because of the unique challenges that each new client has.
- Manage Comics added 18 new stores in 2019.
- NorthIQ worked with 5 new companies in 2020
We decided against more micro-sites in 2019, and we’ll likely look at some different content for 2020.
Overall, finding more clients was a great success, and it is something that we’ll focus even more on in 2020.
Use our own tools
We wanted to start using our own tools in 2019, specifically we wanted to get better with how we use Sharpspring for NorthIQ and Manage Comics.
We really started using Sharpspring in 2019, we’ve created a series of different nurturing systems, and we’ve got something really cool on deck that we want to start marketing which will be integral to our plans in 2020.
Continue content marketing
Our goal in 2019 was to create 26 blog posts on both NorthIQ and Manage Comics (52 blog posts in total).
We did much less content marketing for NorthIQ in 2019, with only 10 new posts created. However we went really deep on pillar pages for specific aspects of our business. We have five significant pillar pages (plus a capstone page about all of our Digital Marketing services), these pages were 1500-4000 words each, and they’ve helped us significantly with our SEO efforts. We’ll be continuing on in this vein, with 10-12 blog posts over the year, and a few more significant pieces like these. I would also like to do some guest posting on other sites, such as Tech Alliance locally, and other sites that will get our name out there.
Over on Manage Comics, we posted 48 blog posts (which includes 12 product updates). We created a new series called “Managing Your Shop”, which was picked up by Bleeding Cool, where four different articles were posted.
- How Comic Stores Can Survive the Retail Paradigm Shift of 30% Fewer Retailers in Two Years
- Managing Your Shop: Say It With Your Website
- Managing Your Shop: How to Set Up Google My Business for Your Comic Store
- How Comic Shops Can Survive the Inevitable Sales Apocalypse
This was great, and we’ll be sending things to Bleeding Cool as well as a few other industry specific blogs/websites in the new year.
Invest in the business
Our goal here was to move Manage Comics forward significantly by building out the Point of Sale system. We created the specs, and got some ideas behind what would make it better, but we didn’t execute on this.
The goal was kind of vague, and while we invested in the business in other ways (paying for some content marketing, buying different courses for ourselves, and even investing in an SEO Audit to find out opportunities to improve), we failed in the big picture.
While we invested in Manage Comics in 2019, we need to do a better job of this in 2020.
We have a couple of projects in mind for this coming year, and we’ll be investing in both Manage Comics and our special NorthIQ project in 2020.
Refine our Tools
Our goal was to improve our communication with clients, and make our own work loads more manageable by leveraging better tools and creating new workflows for our incoming work.
We totally revamped how we manage incoming requests, and things are much better than they were before. We now have a dedicated help desk account, and project management software currently accounts for 20% of our monthly non-payroll expenses (mind you, we keep our monthly expenses pretty low). Since we changed over to Help Scout, we’ve found managing day-to-day requests is so much easier, and we don’t lose requests anymore.
The Look Back on 2019
In some ways 2019 was very successful, but we still want more. While we got some processes nailed down this year, it still feels like a lot of the things we do require manual effort, and usually significantly more than we expect. In the first week of January we’ll be doing a deep dive into 2020 to figure out exactly where we want to go, and exactly how we want to get there.
2020 will be the 3rd anniversary of NorthIQ as a corporation, but I’ve been at it for 5 years in 2020. I’m always simultaneously amazed at where we are, and anxious about where we should be whenever I look at the company as a whole.