December has always been a whirlwind kind of month. Long before I chose the path of self-employment in marketing, most of my employment was commission-based. Performance mattered. I was evaluated every quarter on the amount of business I produced, but no quarter mattered as much as quarter four. As many of my friends and family were enjoying holiday traditions, taking vacation time, or doing some shopping, my eyes were "focused on the prize" - meeting my annual sales goals, earning incentive bonuses, and helping my teams reach their goals for the benefit of the company. There was no time to stop and reflect and certainly no time for "self care".
I was at a WBOA meeting this week where we shared our experiences with holiday traditions, as well as special promotions we may offer through our businesses at this time of year. In all my years working as a public speaker and small business workshop facilitator on behalf of Constant Contact, I probably held over 40 "Rock Your Holidays With A Great Promotion" workshop heading into the last quarter of each year. Most small businesses make the majority of their income in the last quarter of the year, so learning how to reach new customers and value returning customers was important, and I knew that effective use of email marketing combined with social media would help them succeed. I still help many of my clients plan, schedule and execute their holiday digital promotions. I also shared that I seldom offer a holiday promotion for my own business.
This week I was saddened to learn that a non-profit organization that I have supported for many years was closing its doors. One of the reasons they felt they could no longer continue their mission upset and angered me. Right before Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and the all-import Giving Tuesday for non-profits, their Facebook page was taken down with no explanation. This meant that all their digital advertising asks for donations that were scheduled to go during that time were held in the abyss of "Facebook jail". I have my thoughts on how and why this happened, but there is no way to change the outcome as Facebook makes its on decisions. They announced their decision to close to their newsletter subscribers this week.
We have become so immersed in social media that we forget about the power these companies can have over our lives, and our businesses. Between figuring out algorithms, paid vs. generic reach, and getting found in an overwhelmingly crowded space, maybe we are reaching the tipping point. Maybe we need to re-evaluate our dependence on social media.
Thank you for subscribing to my mailing list. I am grateful the many conversations I've had with subscribers who've attended my workshops and events, my clients who have worked with me through the countless changes in the world of digital marketing and the many small business owners I've had the privilege to get to know over the years.
Here's wishing you a very happy holiday season, however you celebrate. Take care.
The holidays will be upon us before you can change your clock back! As a small business owner, this is an important time of year for many reasons. Although we think of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday as big shopping days for retail stores, the holiday season impacts service related businesses and non-profits as well. Many small businesses make much of their income during the holidays. Non-profits rely on Giving Tuesday and holiday events that focus on the generosity of donors. It's also a time to thank our customers for their loyalty.
I was an Authorized Local Expert speaker for Constant Contact for many years and the workshops I facilitated during the holiday season were always very popular. Attendees learned about the types of promotions and special events they could offer, how to time the promotions, harnessing email and social media to connect and expand their reach with customers.
This year I am happy to offer you, as a valued reader of my blog and newsletter, the Holiday Marketing 101 Guide, published by Constant Contact that you can read in the comfort of your office, your living room, or even in bed in your jammies. You will find a comprehensive approach to planning and executing your marketing plan, as well as ways to carry your efforts into the new year. Take a deep, cleansing breath. You don't have to do it all. Pick what feels right to you and your customers. Just click the button to download the guide here:
P.S. If you are not currently using email marketing, or are frustrated with the service you've chosen, I encourage you to take Constant Contact for a FREE spin using my direct link. If you decide to purchase I will give you a promotional code to use as my gift. Try Constant Contact today.
It's easy to let the lure of summer let us kick back a little, slow down, unplug, maybe take a well deserved vacation. This is a good thing, assuming we've let our marketing continue on auto-pilot, as I wrote about in my last post.
September is right around the corner, which means that the last quarter of the year also looms on the horizon. What you do NOW to create and maintain your marketing strategy and campaign execution can make a profound difference in your end of year numbers.
So, what can you do in the middle of August to prepare to hit the ground running when it's "back to business" in September?
The first thing to do is create a visual roadmap for September - December. This calendar will allow you to map out everything that may affect your business and marketing campaigns throughout the holiday season.
Begin by adding special dates (Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday (if you sell online), Giving Tuesday (non-profit giving), etc. Look for special recognition days, weeks or months that are important to your industry and could be used in social media.
Will you be planning any special events, ie. customer appreciation day, a sales event, workshop, pop-up shopping day? If so, look at your calendar to strategize a date that is far enough in advance to be able to market sufficiently.
Once you know what event you will hold, break out the tasks that need to be done. You can do this on paper now and add it to a digital task list later, or an excel or Google sheet which can be shared with others. What is the task, who is responsible, when is it due? If you're depending on others to create print material, update your website or create a campaign online, be aware that they may be busier as well. Don't wait until the last minute to place the work order.
Your social media, email, and traditional marketing campaigns need to support your seasonal "offer". Timing is everything. Don't overlook the time needed to produce, print and ship marketing collateral. What can you pre-schedule and what must you do manually? Inboxes are inundated with offers at this time of year. Do you have a strategy for resending an email to your subscribers who did not open your offer?
It may feel a bit overwhelming now to think about fall and holiday marketing, but with a little planning now, you can reap the benefit of a fatter bottom line on December 31st. You can do this!!!
I publish a motivational quote on Facebook every Tuesday at 11:11 AM. I've often been asked how I chose the timing of the post and I respond, "There is no magic significance. It just helps me be consistent." The image shown here was from this week's post. As I turn the calendar to September, I've been thinking a lot about time. September signals a new season, one that's filled with renewed energy and, for small businesses, often comes with a renewed commitment to end the 4th quarter of the year strong.
Scheduling an email campaign, sales promotion or event all depends on the best timing for your audience. We tend to underestimate how timing can affect the outcome of our hard work. I've been asked twice in the last couple of weeks to help promote an early September event for which no outreach had begun. The timing for the first event was difficult as it was to occur the day after Labor Day, after a long weekend, in the midst of school starting. The second event required a tremendous amount of foundational structure, including a website that needed to launch prior to the event. The first session was planned for September 11. My advice was to push the start date out a week due to the sensitivity of holding an event on the anniversary of 9/11. Unfortunately, change meant that the last session would be held over the Columbus day long weekend.
For many small businesses owners, the 4th quarter represents their highest income during the year. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and for non-profits, Giving Tuesday are all opportunities for not only big retail, but also for small retail and service-oriented small businesses.
By now, you should have your 4th quarter goals in place.
What will you offer - a discount, a customer appreciation event, etc? How will you promote - print paid advertising, local calendars, email promotion, Facebook events, groups, paid advertising? Do you have the in-house staff to support your efforts or will you outsource?
If you're unclear about your goals, I'm always happy to chat.
When I began my career in sales and marketing years ago, everything was dependent on the "funnel". Each week I projected my potential sales for the next week based. It all boiled down to the numbers and if I followed the system, my results would be very predictable. There were times, of course, when something went wrong.
In any given week my activity log showed me how many calls I had made, how many appointments resulted from those calls, how many prospects cancelled or didn't show, how many sales I closed and the dollar amount of my production. Pretty simple, really. If I wanted to double my income, I could merely double my phone calls and theoretically achieve my goal. If I felt lazy and didn't make enough phone calls, the trickle down effect was very visible (especially to my supervisor) at the end of the week.
You reap what you sow.
Summer tended to cause distractions, not only for me, but for my prospects as well. More broken appointments meant I needed to make more calls or my sales quota would be affected. The consequences of my decreased activity level wouldn't be immediate though. In about two months I'd look at my commission check and felt the pinch. Ouch. After my first year I soon realized that I needed a super strong 2nd quarter to make up for a lackluster 3rd quarter.
As small business owners, independent contractors and non-profit organizations, everything we do to promote our products and services must be part of a strategy that factors in "distractions" like summer vacation, seasonal cycles, customer buying habits and a host of other industry specific variables.
We reap what we sow.
So for now, as we look toward the last few months of 2016, will you be ready for your "harvest"? If you need help developing your strategy or staying on track, I'm always happy to help. #beamarketer
The holidays are here, and the marketing push is on. Major retailers are pulling out all the stops, enticing us with Hallmark-laden messages, countless promotions and last minute gift giving ideas. Locally, hundreds of non-profit organizations will count on us to think of them on December 10th during the 3rd Annual Valley Gives Day.
Small Business Saturday reminds us to "shop small" every day of the year, helping our local businesses survive and thrive.
If you haven't put your holiday marketing plan in action yet, there's still time. Here are some last minutes ideas that you can do today just by using your mailing list:
Liz Provo, Mass Marketing Resources.