In December we all start to looking ahead to the new year and thinking about resolutions and goals for the coming year. If you are like me you avoid personal resolutions because chances are they probably will not be kept as we all get busy and lose the motivation — then we just feel bad. However, when it comes to your business, having goals and a vision of where you want to go is so important to help keep you on track and motivated. But today just having goals are not enough, you have to find a way to stand out and get noticed. (Kind of like the van above)

Linda Popky, a good friend and fellow small business owner, wrote a whole book on how organizations can be heard and get noticed called Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing That Matters (available on Amazon). She was happy to share these seven steps that can help us all get ahead for the new year.

It’s that time of the year again…time to put 2016 in the rearview mirror and focus on how to make 2017 great.

It’s easy to build on what you did in 2016, but if you want to take more than incremental moves forward in the new year, you’ll need to take more than incremental marketing actions to do so.

Remember the environment you’re working in is crowded. Your prospects and customers are overwhelmed by all the messages being hurled at them from all sides. They may very well be inclined to consider your business or even be predisposed to work with you, but if they don’t hear your message above the noise, nothing will happen.

So what can you do to stand out? Here are seven steps to take now to get ahead of the curve in the new year:

  1. Take a critical eye to your business this year: What went right? Where were results disappointing? Most importantly, can you clearly articulate where your business is today—what’s working and what’s not?
  2. Know what constitutes success. What would make 2017 an outstanding year? Be specific. Would this be increasing revenue by 20%? Closing 4 new clients? Expanding the amount of repeat/upsell business you get from existing clients by 30%?
  3. Understand what you are competing against. This may be other businesses that are direct competitors, or it can be other options your prospects have to accomplish what you can do for them. Often, your biggest competition is the status quo—doing nothing at all.
  4. Be clear on what makes you different. The marketplace is full of competing messages. What is it you do for your clients and customers that is different than what they can get elsewhere? Why are they better off after they work with you?
  5. Craft an offer that stands out. If everyone else zigs, then you need to zag. Use what you’ve learned to be creative and captivating, but most important you need to be You want to stop your prospects in your tracks, get them to say, gee I had never looked at things that way, and contact you.
  6. Create a compelling call to action. Make it valuable, make it intriguing, but most of all, make it timely. Give prospects an offer they can’t afford to turn down. Give them something they’ll want to find out more about immediately.
  7. Stop and assess progress. Each time you launch a new marketing initiative, include a time to check-in and see how things are going. Are you getting the results you expected? If not, what mid-course corrections need to be made?

Opportunities abound in the new year. The question is what will you do to grab them? Take these steps now to have a stand-out 2017.

Linda J. Popky, the founder and president of Silicon Valley-based Leverage2Market Associates, helps organizations be heard above the noise. . Connect with her on Twitter at @popky