Believe It Or Not, It’s Time to Think About Q4
Sorry to be a downer, I know it seems too early (please don’t shoot the messenger)! With only 141 days left in the year, it’s time to start cultivating your end-of-year plan for the OND months. While we’re all relishing the dwindling summer season of ferris wheels, caramel corn and salt air, reality is sneaking up on us faster than you can say “pumpkin spice latte.” Don’t get caught waving farewell to dollars swirling around in the wind like the autumn leaves.
Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those jargon-laden articles full of esoteric advice that even the most well-intentioned readers probably won’t heed (let’s be honest – when it comes to tips on advanced PPC and SEO, you’re either already doing it or earmarking it for later). Instead, try these six easy tips that anyone can follow, no matter how large or small your company or remaining marketing budget might be.
Give Your Organization the Gift of Planning
Ok, that’s it for the tired holiday puns, we promise. Here are some tips on Q4 sales and marketing strategies that don’t involve the holidays (at least not directly):
Understand Where You’ve Been and Make a Plan for Where You Want to Go
- Analyze and Leverage History: If you’re lucky enough to have the tools to reflect on last year’s data, figure out which of your content was the most popular among your audience, and try to replicate the correlated client behavior that it caused. Don’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel – use remarketing tactics to your advantage.
- Synchronize Your Messaging: Once you’ve determined your most influential voice and the most effective messages to deliver, be sure to plan out at least 12 weeks’ worth of consistently focused, cross-platform campaign material. This will keep you top-of-mind to prospective clients and boost momentum into the year ahead. Use the last three months of this year as a springboard into Q1.
- Build a Progression Plan: Whether you’re B2B or B2C, all of your potential customers have something in common – when they search the web for a product or service, they’re looking to solve a problem or improve a process. As they research, their queries become more specific. Make sure you’re visible at every stage of the game through targeting and tiered content.
- Q4 Doesn’t Have to be an Audience Ghost Town: Sure, it’s normal to notice a dip in engagement during the weeks leading up to the holidays, but it’s not as much of a wasteland as you might think. You just have to understand the psychology of the season. Budgets may be restricted, people are likely to be traveling, and everyone seems to be preoccupied by the holidays. But if you can employ some smart targeting techniques, accelerators and seasonal perks, you’ll stay on the minds of your listeners. In that case, the week between December 26th and New Years’ could actually be quite prosperous as people anticipate renewed budgets and decision-making power in January.
- Mix Up the Foundation of Your Content: Understanding the difference between education-based and action-based content (and the effects of each) will help you ramp up your marketing and sales efforts throughout the next few months in an effective way. During September, October, and November people are doing a lot of research. Aim to provide them with content that’s memorable and easy to consume and digest so that when it’s time to make a decision, you’re at the front of the line. This is not the time to be pushy, as anyone in a buying position is sure to be vetting several options. Free, premium content and transparency of offerings are your best bets. But come mid-to-late December into January, go ahead and take a more action-oriented approach, adding sweeteners to encourage the sale and getting more aggressive with your follow-up.
- Canvas Your Existing Customer Base: There’s never been a better time to reach out to your existing and past customer base to find out who’s looking to spend down the rest of their budget funds for the year. If anyone has room left in the budget, now’s the time to make an offer they can’t refuse. Pinpoint their needs and package a solution that is unique and special for the time of year, motivating them to take immediate action. This strategy will help you gain wallet share of your existing book of business while raising your bottom line and potentially also filling your pipeline heading into Q1. And don’t give up – anyone whose hands were tied during Q4 may very well be ready to make moves early in Q1, so don’t lose sight of those who say “no,” because in sales “no” almost always means “not right now.”