Hello, October and welcome Q4! Before we know it, we’ll be ringing in the New Year, but between now and then here are five things you can do to liven up your marketing for the next three months.
1. Um, about that monthly newsletter… Confession time: have you been keeping up with your monthly email newsletter? If yes, congrats. If not, well now’s the time to end the year on an up note. Plan your October, November, and December topics RIGHT NOW. In fact, here are three ideas that you can use (and we won’t even take credit for them):
- October. Here’s your topic: “3 Questions & Answers About X.” Now “X” could be one of your products, services, or policies—you decide. It’s easy to come up with three questions and answers, right? Boom! There’s one newsletter.
- November. Here’s your topic: “Employees Making a Difference” or “Charities We Love.” November is all about Thanksgiving and gratitude so why not turn the spotlight on some of your awesome employees who volunteer? It could be a profile on one employee or a short paragraph on three to five. Or if you’re a solo outfit, highlight three of your favorite charities that could use a little extra TLC this time of year. OK, two down, one to go!
- December. Here’s your topic: “These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things.” So this topic has a lot of flexibility: highlight two to three of your favorite projects from the past year (perfect for any companies that deal in visuals like graphic designers, web designers, interior decorators, home builders…you get the idea). This can be a highly visual, low copy piece where you just share some images and a line or two telling people what they’re looking at. Or you could provide a more detailed case study. If you don’t have visuals, or you’re not in the “visual” business, you could highlight three of your favorite testimonials from the last year. We bet you’ve received at least three emails since January that sing your company’s praises, right?
- Bonus! Here’s a topic for January: “Three Predictions for 2014.” We know you have some regarding your industry and business. Go ahead and predict, and suddenly you have a simple, straightforward newsletter to start the new year off right.
Look at that: four months’ worth of newsletters planned and practically already written. Speaking of which, the writing part is the key. You have the ideas. Now delegate who’s in charge of writing them. If it’s YOU, then schedule time in your schedule RIGHT now to get them done. In fact, how about you bang out October right now? We bet you could write three questions and answers in less than an hour. If you’re delegating the task, give the person a deadline and be sure to follow up.
The best thing about this whole newsletter idea? You’re going to feel psyched about getting back on track, which will only motivate you—and your marketing—even more.
2. Order your end-of-year cards or gifts NOW. Relationship marketing should be the foundation of all of your marketing, and nothing beats offering a heartfelt thank-you to your customers at the end of the year. You needn’t go crazy with expensive gifts either. Handwritten cards (yes, handwritten!) are always appreciated, as are smaller, thoughtful gifts. Need ideas? Our customer service representatives at Amsterdam Printing LOVE brainstorming and offering suggestions.
If you have a lot to send, divide and conquer. Order now and slate time in your schedule this month, next month, and early December to complete the writing, packaging, and shipping. Seriously—go slot some time in your calendar RIGHT NOW.
3. Pick one thing from “the list” and DO IT. You know that list we’re talking about, right? The one with all of the awesome ideas and great marketing intentions? Yeah, that one. Go dig it up. Choose one of those things that you keep saying, “Yeah, we should try that,” and DO it. Maybe it’s emailing ten of your top customers and asking them for testimonials. Maybe it’s updating your online portfolio with pics or info from your last five jobs. Maybe it’s updating your head shot. Maybe it’s ordering your staff new promotional T-shirts. Maybe it’s investigating costs for a van or car wrap. You get the idea.
4. Invest in case studies. Often after we complete a project, we think, “That would make a great case study.” Then, well, life happens and it ends up on “the list” (see #3 above). After a while, we might think our window has passed to reach out to the client or customer. But see, that’s the beauty of this time of year. The fact that we’re approaching the end of the year gives you the PERFECT “in” to reach out to your customer, even if it was for a project from January.
You can say something like, “We’ve been looking back over projects we’ve done this last year, and yours is a standout in our mind. Would it be possible to have Mary call you and discuss the project and your experience? We’d love to create a case study that we can showcase on our site and in our marketing materials.”
OK, you may be wondering who this “Mary” is. You might think she’s some mythical, magical creature many people have heard of but few have seen, kind of like unicorns. But no. Mary is a real person. You need to decide who your Mary will be. Do you have a marketing person who can write reasonably well? Awesome. She’s your Mary. If you don’t have a Mary on staff, then find one. Mary’s are also known as freelance copywriters.
Copywriters know how to write professional case studies. They’ll charge for the time it takes to interview your client and draft your case study. Yes, it will cost you money, but case studies get a lot of mileage. You can use the case study as a newsletter topic (hey, there’s your February newsletter), as a download on your website, and something to share in social media. You can also share them with prospects who are looking for more detailed, persuasive, and objective evidence that you are indeed the vendor of their dreams. Text and some pics are fine, but if the visual presentation is important to you, you could contract a graphic designer to lay it out. It will be money well spent.
5. Schedule updates on Facebook for the next month. You do have a Facebook presence, right? Considering Facebook has over one billion registered users, you can’t ignore it (even if it’s not your favorite platform). The most important thing you can do is engage your fans. And since Facebook allows you to schedule your posts, you can sit down and bang out a whole month’s worth at once.
Plan to craft three status updates a week for four weeks. That’s twelve updates. You can do this! Here are some ideas:
- Share a few lines from a testimonial. You need to toot your own horn from time to time, and fans are always happy to hear about successful projects and comments from happy customers and clients.
- Ask a simple question related to your industry. For example, if you’re a home builder, you could ask something like, “Quick survey: granite or wood countertops – which one would you pick?” It’s an easy question for people to answer, and people tend to love participating in these random surveys.
- Post a picture. Pictures almost always increase the engagement level, so the more pics you can share, the better. If your business lends itself to visuals (like a photographer, for example), you’ll have no trouble. But what if you’re involved with a more abstract business? What if you’re a partner in a law firm or you own a marketing company? Think behind-the-scenes shots, especially those that include people. Maybe you give kudos to your hardworking receptionist and share a picture of her working the phones. If you’re a marketing company, maybe you pay it forward by sharing a picture of the gorgeous kitchen that your home renovation client recently built.
- Share an interesting stat related to your industry. The weirder or more surprising, the better.
- Post an inspiring quote. It doesn’t necessarily have to be from someone related to your industry, but if it is, even better.
- Share other people’s funny stuff (but do so sparingly). You don’t want to overload your feed with cat videos, but the occasional funny video can be a nice break for fans.
What marketing tasks do you want to focus on for Q4? Share in the comments, and good luck!