Keeping your Cool: Creating A Successful End of Year Strategy
The last quarter of the year can be a critical time for all businesses as you prepare to close out the end of the year's sales. While the last quarter of the year can mean the busiest time of the year, (especially for retailers) some industries find it the slowest time. But no matter the industry, it's crucial to turn your attention towards accessing where you're going and where you've been. Asking yourself what goals you've been able to meet thus far, what successes you've had in the integration of our marketing strategy through the previous quarters, and what needs to be done meet end of year goals.
Understand Your Industry's Market Trends
The first key principle for making the very most of the end of the year is having a clear and thorough understanding of the marketing trends in your industry. If your business is a brick-and-mortar store or an e-commerce retailer, customers are most likely going to expecting significant sales from you as Q4 ramps up. However, businesses in the home service industry see a very different trend, where sales tend to drop in comparison to the rest of the calendar year.
Action for Retail Businesses
As the summer sun begins to fade, so should your previous tactics for the season. Analyze your ad budgets, media spending and digital marketing strategy to determine how they have been pacing in the 3rd quarter. Use the data to make necessary adjustments, like setting a new budget for September through December. You'll find that if you do this now, you won't have to scramble to make less-educated assessments later.
Develop a promotional calendar that highlights both your new seasonal arrivals and overstock inventory - pushing sales in Q4 are a great time to move these products. Your schedule should, of course, keep in mind key dates like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, where customers will be anticipating special deals.
Start creating Q4 specific assets now so that you are not only calm under pressure, (we've all been there) but so that you can also test these creatives and phase out underperformers without breaking a sweat if needed!
Last, but not to be forgotten. Your calendar also needs to incorporate shipping deadlines as you plan out the details of what you will promote and when you will support it. Your customers will want to know that their purchases will arrive in plenty of time for potential gift giving, and with these deadlines on the calendar, you won't be making delivery promises that you cannot keep.
Action for Service Businesses
There's a lot less movement in the service industry -- and a lessened acquisition of new customers -- during Q4. The best way to move forward during this time is by amping up your outreach to your existing customer base, who are already familiar with your business and services.
You'll want to begin driving awareness of your brand while the competition is lower than other times of year - take advantage of the lulls! This could mean a big media push in September to ramp up your sales funnel for October, November, and December. Remember, we want you to have a calm, collective advantage over the competition who will likely choose to start doing this later on. And don't forget, we offer plenty of expertise on media buying and digital advertising if you're unsure where to start!
Focus on promoting your offerings that can help those customers get their homes ready for expected house parties, unexpected visitors, last minute travel -- or anything that can help them relax during a stressful season. Also, staying active during this slow time will keep you top of mind, so you'll be set up for a successful start to the new year.
Plan Out Your Marketing Campaigns in Detail
The path to success in Q4 is in having a clear plan of action and detailed timeline for your marketing activities and campaigns. This begins with defining your marketing goals for the end of the year and should include analysis and review throughout so that you can refine and adjust your strategies even during this busy season. Your entire team should be aware of the Q4 marketing plan including specials so that everyone is on the same page when the end of the business year arrives.
Action for Brick-and-Mortar Retail
A blend of digital and traditional marketing strategies should be part of your plan for the last quarter. Email marketing and social media campaigns can reach online audiences, while indoor signs, handouts, direct mail and advertisements in local publications should be considered for the traditional side of your marketing campaign. As you finalize your promotions, include back up plans just in case your engagement doesn't show your advanced plans to be practical or economic or political issues arise.
Action for E-Commerce Retail
For e-commerce retailers, Q4 is a time to hone your online marketing strategies, using and building on your current audience. Social media (including Pinterest), email marketing and website re-targeting should all be part of your campaign schedule.
Action for Service Business
As for any business, your email list is the place to start (and end) with your Q4 marketing campaign, sharing your best upcoming sales with loyal and interested customers. On the same token, thanking them by sending exclusive offers their way - allowing you to stand out when their inbox is being inundated with Sales! Sales! Sales! Local publications and networking events are some more traditional marketing techniques you should consider for your Q4 schedule as well.
Armed with this action plan, you can stay ahead of the competition by planning and taking your marketing efforts to the next level. The right focus and preparation will ensure that you have even greater success with your campaigns this year whether you are a retail or service business.
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