It’s easy for small businesses and nonprofits to get wrapped up in the idea of a new year and all of the ideas that a fresh start can bring. But then reality sets in that you don’t have more time than last year, just more ideas. That’s why January, when things have slowed down a bit after the holiday rush, is a perfect time to look back on the year that’s just ended and review what worked and what didn’t, and apply those lessons to your new-year’s plans.

We were curious what the biggest lessons you learned last year were, so last week we posted on Constant Contact’s Facebook Page the question, “What’s the most important marketing lesson your business or nonprofit learned in 2011?” Above, you’ll see the words that were most commonly used in your answers (the bigger the word, the more it was used). Here are the top two takeaways:

1. Hit on all cylinders. It’s important to incorporate a variety of marketing methods to get in front of anyone, anytime, anywhere — including traditional marketing, social media, email marketing, and mobile. Liz Holste, a Constant Contact Facebook fan, brings home the point that, “Your company name has to be out there for people to know who you are and what you are selling.”

2. Keep it real. Talk to customers, clients, members, and supporters as you talk to your friends. They are real people who want to be treated with compassion, respect, and good service, not just listen to slick advertising and marketing messages. Jennifer Brooks, a Constant Contact Facebook fan gets it: “With a family business, we have always made it known that we treat all our customers like friends and family.”

Hopefully, these lessons learned will help add some focus to all the possibilities that the new year’s optimism brings.

Do you agree with the big takeaways, or is your most important marketing lesson from 2011 different? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.