So far in my 26 years of life, I’ve experienced two major awkward phases.
The first? Middle school.
Ok, fine. If I’m being honest, it lasted a lot longer than just middle school. Otherwise known as the ‘before-and-during-braces’ phase, this stage consisted of about seven years where I starred in my own life as the (and I mean the) ugly duckling.
I know, I know – the holidays roll around, and all you want to do is unplug from your life as a business owner and soak up time with friends and family. I’m with you there, and as long as your business isn’t one that absolutely depends on holiday sale surges, I think you’ve earned some time away.
But, before you totally unplug for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and/or whatever other holidays you celebrate this time of year, do you and your business a favor. Rather than allow your marketing efforts to come to a complete halt while you take time off for the holidays, make sure you’ve checked off these simple to-dos, which will help you continue to build – or at least maintain – your marketing momentum throughout the holiday season.
Whether you have a brick-and-mortar storefront or a virtual team, your customers and clients have formed expectations around when you’ll be open and available to them. The ultimate goal of marketing is to build trust with your audience, and to build trust you have to manage and meet expectations. Don’t overlook this to-do, even though it probably seems like the simplest of tasks.
Make sure your customers know when you’ll be available during the holiday season. If you’re a service-based business-owner and you’re in the middle of several client projects, reach out personally to let your clients know the level of responsiveness they can expect during the holidays. If you run a product-based business, use a splash page or a banner across your website that clearly states when you’ll be open (if you’re of the brick-and-mortar variety) and how frequently you’ll be responding to email or other forms of communication.
For both service- and product-based businesses, consider leveraging social media channels to announce holiday availability as well. I vote you dump your availability into a cutesy little branded Canva graphic and plaster it all over the social medias. Holiday hours might not seem like a super engaging topic for social media, but your audiences will notice you’re putting in effort to keep them informed.
Set up your email autoresponder.
This is another to-do that seems so simple, but I assure you it’s so often overlooked. It goes back to managing expectations. If I’m your client and I email you directly and don’t receive an auto-response, I’m going to assume you’ll get back to me within a reasonable timeframe, based on my past experiences with your business.
If you don’t meet my expectation, I’m going to be disappointed, even if it’s the holiday season, because I’m a human. Thankfully, every email service on the planet offers a simple little tool you can easily employ to eliminate my disappointment. Simply update your out-of-office template or auto-response, and make it really clear to me, your client, when I can expect to hear back from you. You should probably wish me a happy holiday season, while you’re at it.
Schedule your blog content in advance.
This one requires a little more effort, but I have faith in you. If you take your marketing strategy seriously, you already have an editorial calendar in place, so this shouldn’t be too bad. You already know the topics, themes, and calls-to-action for the blog posts you’re planning to publish over the holidays.
Draft that content now, and get it scheduled. Otherwise, you’ll let it slip and, once again, you’ll be disappointing your customers and prospects who’ve come to expect that Tuesday morning blog post.
…and social media too!
There’s no substitute for authentically engaging with your social media audiences, which is a real challenge during the holidays, when both you and your audience have better things to do than scroll through Instagram. However, you can continue to cultivate consistency across your social media channels by thinking ahead, curating content, and scheduling social media posts before you tune out for the holidays.
Start planning now, so you’re ready to roll in 2017.
The absolute best thing you can do for your business before you take off on holiday vacation is to strategize. Create an actionable marketing strategy, so you’re ready to hit the ground running in 2017. I think the easiest way to do this is to start big-picture, and then work your way into the nitty gritty details.
Start with your overarching objectives for the year – I’m a fan of setting quarterly goals – and then define the strategies you’ll employ to achieve those objectives. Finally, break those strategies into the super-specific action steps you’ll follow, and assign a deadline to each step.
As an example, the first objective I dump into this template might be to “Attract 300 new email subscribers.”
To achieve that, one of the strategies I might try is to create an opt-in-offer that entices audiences to subscribe to my list.
To implement that strategy, I’m going to need to follow these steps:
Research best practices relative to opt-in offers.
Decide on type/topic of opt-in offer.
Create copy and design of offer.
Simple, right? My last piece of parting advice? Plaster your completed 2017 marketing strategy template someplace where you’ll see it every single day. Let it nag you into action, and I promise you you’ll be more likely to achieve what you’ve set out to achieve.
Best of luck! Here’s to preparing for the holidays like a champ, and strategizing for 2017 like a pro.
If you’re anything like me, you love yourself a good list of tools you can use to do what you do better. While I’m usually an avid consumer of said lists, I thought I’d try my hand at putting my own “Top 10” together. Here they are.