To strengthen your marketing, you need to take a hard look at what you’ve done in the past, build on what worked, improve what didn’t and come up with some brand new approaches. Itemize your past marketing efforts, then:

1. Rationalize on past marketing success and failures

You’ll do this anyway, so get it over with. Decide that the economy was to blame for the sales slump, that the competition got lucky or that the stars weren’t in the right configuration. Then, go back and stare down your rationalizations, and decide which ones you can deal with. What did the competition do right that led to their success? What can you learn from them?

2. Face your failures

It’s nice to wipe the slate clean and start fresh, but before you do, examine your mistakes. Don’t lay blame or chew yourself out. But figure out what went wrong and how you can avoid it in the future.

3. Measure your marketing successes

The bottom line is an obvious barometer. But if your marketing activities are measurable, you can refine them much more easily. If you sent lead generation queries to 1,000 customers, got 200 in the pipe, and made 50 sales, you know you got a five percent response, and you can seek ways to make it 10 percent. You can also measure the actual profit you made on the campaign.

On the other hand, a newsletter designed to build relationships with customers may have generated good comments or simply left you with a good feeling. You know it worked, but you can’t measure it.

Check the ratio of efforts you can measure to those you can’t. If you discover that measurable activities are few or non-existent, find new ones or add measurability to existing activities. Maybe you can insert coupons in your newsletter.

4. Make a fresh start

It’s easy to get in a rut. Question everything about your marketing as if you were launching your business all over again. Revisit some of the more creative efforts you used back when you were getting started and your enthusiasm was extra high. Remember how word-of-mouth played such an important part? Look for ways to generate that same buzz again.

5. Seek out bold new ideas

Don’t put all the onus on yourself. Ask your employees for new ideas. Ask your customers what they’d like to see from you in the coming months.

6. Do what you do best

This goes for both you and your business. Maybe you do everything from guiding the company to doing the bookkeeping to writing the advertising, even though you know you should be delegating. Your company may also be spread thin, trying to be all things to all customers. Determine what your customers appreciate about your product or service and focus on that.