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!!!
If you are a solo-preneur, finding time to do everything you need to do on a daily basis to market your business can feel daunting. When it's time to take a few days off, have you thought of how you will keep your business "running" while you're away? Ask yourself these questions.
How "unplugged" will you be?
1. Create a vacation auto-reply for your email.
You can use a basic out of office message, but why not toss in a little marketing when you have the opportunity. An out of office message that includes marketing goes something like this:
Hello and thanks for your email. I’m currently away until mm/dd with limited / no access to email. If your request is urgent, please contact [NAME] at [EMAIL or PHONE]. In the meantime, did you know I have a monthly e-newsletter? Yep, you heard that right! A monthly dose of all your favorite [COMPANY] content sent right to your inbox. To ensure you don’t miss out on all the good stuff, sign up for my newsletter here. [insert email sign up link] I’ll be sure to get back to you when I return on mm/dd. Thanks,
2. Create a voicemail greeting for your work phone.
If you use the same phone for work and pleasure, being away from the office can be a bit tricky. The best advice is to NOT pick up the phone and encourage callers to leave a voice mail.
3. Send an email to your mailing list subscribers.
The timing of this email may depend on your type of business. If you let people know you're on vacation in 5 days, you may get last minute requests for service just when you're trying to lighten your work load. I prefer to send this shortly before I will be unavailable for a period of time. The content for this message can be similar to a voice mail out of office greeting, Consider including support service contacts.
4. Pre-schedule social media content.
Just because you're away, doesn't mean that you can't be marketing. There are apps available to help. Here's a pretty comprehensive list of free and paid apps you might want to consider: sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-scheduling-tools/
If you are only posting to Facebook, did you know that you can schedule posts directly from Facebook? Just create a post, but instead of clicking on Publish, click the down arrow beside it and choose Schedule. You can choose the date and time you want the post to appear. All your scheduled posts will show up in Activity.
5. Pack the essentials.
There are times when you may want flexibility to do a little work. Be sure to pack your wall charger, solar charger, laptop or tablet. If you need wi-fi, know where hotspots are available, or better yet, avoid the public wi-fi network altogether and add tethering to your mobile phone plan.
Recently, Facebook announced that its algorithm is changing -- again. What does this mean for small businesses who devote hours every week to their business pages?
It's no secret that organic reach for business pages has been steadily declining over the last three years. Prior to the latest algorithm change, only about 5% of what you post is ever seen by people who have liked your page. Let's put that in perspective. If you have 100 people who have liked your page, you are posting for an audience of five.
It gets worse.
On June 29th Facebook announced the newest change to their algorithm and it's not good news for small businesses. Facebook will now begin to prioritize posts from user's friends and family in their newsfeeds (hey, it's what users want, right?). At the same time, content produced by businesses will decrease. Your 5% reach may now be 2%. Is that acceptable?
What's the answer?
It may be time to take a step back from your Facebook strategy, certainly re-prioritizing time spent on content creation and frequency of posting. In order to increase reach, Facebook is making it clear that you will need to advertise. The entry fee is likely to increase due to this new demand, so be prepared to pay more for that option.
What else can we do?
You might want to rethink your "list", you know, the list of email addresses you have been gathering from people who have asked to stay in touch. Devote your time to really learning how to engage with your customers, fans and supporters. The average open rate for email is 21% and if you use Constant Contact as your email marketing provider, you will enjoy a deliverability rate above 99%.
One last thought . . . . remember, you have no control over social media platforms. It's rented space. Go with what you own -- your website and your mailing list. That's where you can focus your marketing efforts for better results.
I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook, especially Facebook for business. As a marketer, Facebook is a moving target, always changing to "better the user's experience", or so they say. Every change affects my clients and their ability to stay current in a marketplace that often feels uncomfortable.
One of the changes that has been most troubling is the downward spiral in organic reach (who sees your content) that business pages have experienced in the last couple of years. It may surprise you to learn that less than 6% of your content is being seen by your fans (people who've liked your page).
I know what you want to say right now . . . . "Forget it! Why waste my valuable time posting when no one's going to see it anyway?"
Before you throw in the towel and abandon your business page, let's look at what you CAN do in order to get more of your content seen. It all comes down to increasing engagement. Will your fans like, comment and share your post with others? Facebook rewards high quality content by letting it squeeze past their filters and right onto your fan's news feed. So what can you do to increase engagement?
Figure out how to get your social fans onto your mailing list and you won't ever have to worry about Facebook's next move again. If you need some help, let's talk.
The pressure to jump on the social media bandwagon is strong for small businesses. While small business owners are rarely afraid of taking on a challenge, learning how to create a sustainable social media strategy can be daunting.
Ask yourself these 6 questions to see if your social media plan is on the right track.
The Women Business Owners Alliance, an organization of which I am a member, is holding its 21st Annual Women's Night of Comedy on March 13, 2014. In order get the word out about this fabulous event, we chose Thunderclap to help extend our social media reach. When you and your friends join a Thunderclap, a message (our invitation to come to the event) will be sent at the same time, causing a wave of motion to occur on feeds, spreading an idea through Facebook and Twitter that cannot be ignored.
We need 100 supporters by March 7th to make this happen. Even if you can't come to the event, by lending your support here, you can help us reach our goal.
So, what do you say? Will you take a minute to help? Please JOIN our Thunderclap!
If you've attended one of my workshops, you have heard me talk a lot about today's relationship building marketing tools. I'm often asked.,"Which is better....email marketing or social media?" The tendency to view social media as being FREE can make it pretty alluring, especially for budget-conscious businesses.
So, what's my answer?
Creating a compelling email marketing plan integrated with the right social media platform(s) keeps you connected with your customers/clients and potential users of your products and services. Although it's not a contest, if you still are struggling with where to spend your time and marketing dollars, check out this infographic. It does a pretty good job of comparing both email and social media.
Brought to you by HostPapa Web Hosting
Liz Provo, Mass Marketing Resources.