Happy New Year! As we prepare to ring in 2018, it’s time to think about an answer to the annual question, “What’s your New Year’s resolution?” We’ll likely hear the same few responses — “Going to the gym more,” “Eating healthier” and “Saving money.” But what about a resolution for your pest control business? Consider closing out the year by taking a deeper look at marketing efforts, specifically in regard to collateral and content, to ensure you’re speaking to your customers in the best way possible. Remember, a successful marketing program is driven by great content! Living in a digital day and age, in which most people are getting their news online or looking for quick content from their mobile device, it’s critical to make sure marketing materials are concise and visual across all avenues.

Heed these five tips for sprucing up marketing and public relations content to start the New Year off with a bang:

ENGAGING SOCIAL MEDIA COPY. Take a step back and think about why you would want to follow a page and the type of copy you’re personally open to receiving. Ask yourself, “If I saw this on Facebook, would I stop and read it? Comment on it? Share it?” Be concise, eye-catching, helpful and even a bit humorous. Try throwing a conversation starter out there to boost engagement, like, “The cooler months are here and rodents are out in full force. Have you spotted one yet?” Or, start off a post with something like “Eek!” or “Buzz!” to grab followers’ attention as they scroll through their feeds.

Another thing to think about is how many visuals you share on your pages. According to Buzzsumo.com, Facebook posts with images see 2.3 times more engagement than those without images, while tweets with images receive 150 percent more re-tweets than tweets without. Consider overlaying short text on a visual for your next few posts and check-in on how they perform. Canva is a great resource that can help you easily create these types of visuals on your own and in a timely fashion.

STICK OUT! It all starts with your headline and don’t be afraid to have fun with it! According to Copyblogger.com, 80 percent of people read headlines and only 20 percent read body copy, which makes it important to grab readers’ attention with an eye-catching headline. Also, jump right into your main point in the first paragraph. If you take too long to get to the call to action, it may get lost and never reach your audience. Try to fill the content with quotes, bullet points (tips or lists are always reader favorites) and statistics to back up any claims about pests. Hard numbers, tips and quotes are easy for reporters to lift and credit within their own stories, which is always a plus!

FRESHEN, SERVE UP NEW CONTENT. Give yourself an end-of-year website checklist. As a first step, take a look at your site’s analytics to determine what pages are most popular — and if you don’t have analytics set up, start there! Keep the statistics in mind as you look to make any changes throughout the site. Do you have pages with a lot of text and minimal visuals? Can you convey any information in a clearer, more concise way? Balance website pages with text and visuals so they feel more welcoming.

What about testimonials? A recent survey conducted by the Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA) found that millennial, Gen X and baby boomer generations all rely on online reviews and personal recommendations when selecting a pest control professional. Adding a new testimonial section to your site or on the homepage could help add credibility and drive more business.

KEEP YOUR BLOG ACTIVE. Always consider your audience first. Are you hearing a recurring pest concern now that winter is here? Think about focusing copy on any hot topics that you’re hearing customers talk about, or tie content to a timely angle like an Awareness Week or the weather and how it’s affecting certain pest populations. If you’re having writer’s block, create a calendar to help yourself stay organized and to keep posts fresh. Additionally, consider mixing it up and adding a guest blogger to the author rotation. Have a passionate co-worker step in as a guest blogger to share a recent success story and walk homeowners through typical infestation areas in the home related to issues they are seeing in your area.

DON’T FORGET PRINT PRODUCTS. Make sure your marketing materials, like brochures, case studies and newsletters, are up to snuff. If you recently added a new service or have changed marketing messages, make sure current materials reflect those changes. If the visuals are outdated, think about swapping them out for something new.

Are you active on social media now, but weren’t two years ago when you printed a large quantity of brochures? Update them with your social media handles or the platform icons to encourage customers to follow your pages. Cross-promotion is extremely valuable! If your company is a PPMA investor, don’t forget to check out the ready-made marketing content on Mainframe that can be downloaded and utilized for future efforts.

As many people typically begin their New Year’s resolutions in January, don’t forget to freshen things up for your business too. Be a storyteller, keep copy concise, appeal to visual learners, remember the digital age we’re living in and always start by first thinking of your audience and what will matter most to them. Now is the time to set up your marketing program for success in 2018!

Cindy Mannes is executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance and vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association. She can be reached at cmannes@pestworld.org. For more information about PPMA, visit www.NPMApestworld.org/PPMA.