Boss, as in awesome.
The December mad rush is over. Your receipts are off to your tax accountant. Before you know it, you’ll be popping a wheelie into the new year. Excellent. In a lull period? Don’t be fooled. This is your moment to turbo charge your plan. Because, let’s face it, once your busy season hits – if you don’t have tools in place, messaging ready to send, marketing tactics at the pole position – you’ve just doubled your workload. And, for added fun, the extra anxiety that comes from working too fast with little or no planning.
Planning? I send out emails on the fly and they’re fine
But are they? Emails might go out, but are they crisp? 99% of the time, first drafts are longer. By that measurement alone, less compelling. And that nut will be twice as hard to crack the next time around, because the audience has just been taught not to open those emails. So now really is the time to plan out your content – whatever the format – email, blog, vlog, website copy, mailers, tweets, posts or presentations.
Try this nifty exercise
Snag a calendar (preferably one with a year on a single sheet). Highlight your seasonal hotspots. These are critical times when you need to focus on the close, the delivery, and the manufacture of your services and products. This is not the time for planning, but execution. Next, highlight typical holidays. Are holidays when customers will be least or most responsive?
Now, from your “rush” period, back it up a month. What’s going on in your business at this time? What are your customers doing? Make some key notes, nothing too specific yet. Now back up again by a month, and so on until you see a time where you’ve got some running room. This is the time to start rolling out your plan. Before that is actually the time to plan.
Start with broad timeframes and general messaging ideas. Then dive in a bit and refine those. Look for a healthy mix of different channels – some email, some social, some website, some video, and wherever else your audience consumes content. Be mindful of “message fatigue” but create a frequency that keeps your customers in the loop and you front of mind.
And finally, compelling and thoughtful content takes time to distill down. It’s going to be competing against a lot of self-important dreck, so afford it the time necessary to electrify. To delight. To be awesome. That rarely happens when you’re writing content off the cuff, or you give your marketing department three days, so consider really giving your messaging a fighting chance to come in first.
But I’m busy all the time! What do you mean “lull”?
First, Hallelujah! Second, truer words never spoken. I get it, I really do. But look again at the previous year. You’ll see where your optimal planning stage lives. Go back to your one-page calendar. Think about your customers. What’s going on at this time for them? Are they planning their budgets or vacations? Starting to shop or closing up shop? Identify “primer” times, and tag dates when you’ll prime the pump. Get your messaging together before then.
When is it crucial to send them a message, letting them in on a special offer in advance of their hectic time? There are seasonal rhythms to all businesses. If now is a good time, block out how you want to message your customers and potential customers into the next four quarters. This will help with resource planning, sales training (for new offers), and even email list segmentation before the rush. By planning during your “lull” you are taking the burden and risk down several notches. And when you’re making that epic jump to hyperspace, you’ll have ready-to-go content in your back pocket.