By the time a farmer is harvesting his crop, he’s already well into the planning of his upcoming planting season. We marketing types could learn a lot from those farmers.
The fourth quarter is a very busy time for most businesses for several reasons:
- Lots of clients are spending the remainder of their budgets
- Customers are motivated to wrap things up before the year’s end
- Many companies are working short staffed and lose a lot of productivity around Thanksgiving and throughout December because of holidays and vacations
- Internal planning for 2015 budgets and work plans is typically done during this time
That’s why it’s not all that surprising that you aren’t thinking about the sales/activity dry spell that often comes in January and February. You may be the exception to this rule, but for many organizations, the first few months of the year are often the slowest in terms of leads, sales and revenue. That’s why you need to plant some marketing seeds right now.
It’s usually around the end of January that someone inside the company says, “Wow, our sales are really slow. We’d better do something.” They go into a brainstorming session and come up with some sort of promotion, marketing tactics or special to generate some sales activity.
Odds are, the ideas that get generated at the end of January usually start producing results 30-90 days after they’re deployed.
So if that’s the case…wouldn’t it make a lot of sense to begin those promos, specials, and increased efforts now, sixty days before your inevitable dry spell?
Let’s call it your planting seeds effort. You want to generate interest now but deliver the services/goods in January and February. How might you plant some marketing seeds now?
Offer a 2014 budget/2015 delivery deal: You know that many of your clients have a fiscal year that ends in December. They have “use it or lose it” budgets. So why not help them wisely spend those budget dollars? Create an opportunity for them to make a smart purchase in 2014 for things they’ll need in the first few months of 2015.
Put together a package: Why not bundle some of your products/services in a way that guarantees usage over the first few months of the year? Set the end date to purchase the bundle sometime in the middle of January. Begin talking about the bundles now and you’ll either sell some in December or you’ll plant the seeds now and make the sale in January.
Kick off a PR campaign: Maybe it’s time to create some buzz? That kind of buzz usually takes some time to build up so starting now means you’ll have some momentum in a few months. Be smart – concentrate on a few key publications that will position you in the right way with the right audience.
Reach out to former clients: Now might be the perfect time to re-connect with some of your former customers. Keep in mind that they’re (hopefully) doing their 2015 planning right now which might result in their realizing that they are going to need what you sell.
Develop and distribute helpful content: Depending on your industry and your customers, this might be an e-book, a white paper, a podcast, or even an in person seminar. Use this opportunity to demonstrate just how smart you are and how you can help them by sharing that expertise. Use the content to reach back out to potential customers you’ve already courted, prospects and even current customers.
Mine your referral network: Your best customers are typically more than happy to boast about your work. Now is the perfect time to ask them who else they think might benefit from your expertise/products. Set up those initial meet and greets for the first week of January.
Don’t wait until you’re in the middle of your slow season to worry about shortening it. If you plant some marketing seeds right now, the slow season may be a thing of the past.
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