While we focus on self-improvement during this time of year, it is a bit discouraging to learn that 88% of all resolutions end in failure, according to a 2007 survey of more than 3,000 people by psychologist Richard Wiseman.

The common reason for the inability to carry through with a change in our behavior came down to one simple detail — taking on too much and, as a result, our willpower is weakened before we start.

This pattern is often what we see firms doing with their marketing efforts — they want to “change things,” but try many little things and rarely continue them long enough to witness, or certainly measure, any results.

I have broken down your marketing resolutions to 5 simple goals that we will discuss and expand on in this regular column on azbigmedia.com through the coming months. Touching on key areas where firms fail in their marketing efforts, these are some high-level changes to incorporate in 2013:

>> Be Committed: The greatest marketing accomplishments come for service-based firms when their marketing is consistent. Start with a plan to lay out regular activities in order to attract and retain clients and execute those activities with predictable frequency. Use a diverse set of activities and tools to build awareness, interest and desire from your target audience. The response will be obvious — though this alone will likely not get you work — the prospect will understand your offerings better and recognize the difference.

>> Be Clear: If you do not know what you are trying to achieve from every marketing activity you deploy, your audience, and even your staff, will not understand either. For example, it seems that every firm wants to initiate an “E-Blast,” but the real success of this activity depends on the thought put in to who should receive it, how often, what is the benefit to the recipient, a clear call to action, etc. One way to approach being more clear is to define your desired audience and set specific goals outlining the outcomes you intend to achieve. From there, you can consider the best way to reach the target audience and creatively convey that message.

>> Be Different: With social marketing and the interactive age, your prospects and clients are bombarded all day with marketing messages and information being conveyed through every device imaginable. We are competing for their attention to tell our story, but is it memorable or compelling when we get 1/3 of a second to draw them closer to our brand? Likely not. When considering the precious time we are given to make an impact and be memorable, it is probably a very good investment in your time to know what truly makes you different and why that is important to your clients. It’s your differentiator and it’s what is remembered and lasting in your marketing efforts.

>> Be Social: The best investment of 2013 might be to consider how you are acquiring work. There are generally two major ways to build business socially — face-to-face and online.

Online: What does your firm’s online presence look like? Is it non-existent? Is it usually a self-promoting marketing message? Is it consistent? Would you keep coming back to your Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn pages?

Face-to-Face: Chances are you have been working so hard at getting work and working on those projects that it has been a while since you have picked up the phone and catch up with an excellent colleague who can refer you or made a “cold call” to contact a prospect who might consider you for work. Simple practices of regular coffee and lunch meetings and tracking key contacts in a contact relationship management (CRM) software can yield big dividends.

>> Be Measured: It is shocking how much time and money companies often spend on marketing activities and yet no measurement is put into place to assess the effectiveness of each of the activities. By outlining the activities your firm initiates and setting a date to evaluate the outcomes of each, your marketing efforts will truly come to life. While much of marketing seems to be intangible, there are fantastic tools available to view social media traffic, website page hits, electronic marketing click-throughs, direct mail response, and even passive viewing of traditional marketing practices. Once you have an idea of what your clients and prospects are responding to, you can replicate it and provide compelling information and activities that build brand recognition.

I believe 2013 holds tremendous opportunity for your firm to take your marketing efforts in a direction that will yield positive, measurable results. I look forward to continuing to provide marketing insights that will encourage you throughout the year.