Increasing competition has forced companies to look for more value at every opportunity and optimize all aspects of their business, and in the process, they’ve fueled a growing market of workflow automation and optimization software expected to double its worth to almost $1.5 billion by 2025.1 But there’s one inexpensive way to make the most of your time that may be hidden in plain sight.
If you want to increase productivity, you need to optimize your seasonal approach. It doesn’t make sense to apply the same methods and initiatives year-round, because the market does not stay the same year-round; instead, adapt to the season.
We all know that the fall and holiday seasons are busy times for marketers when the budget is finalized and campaigns are launched. We also know that B2B sales tend to take a hit in the summer. But that doesn’t mean your business has to slow down.
Like a farmer getting his or her tractor ready for harvest season, you can take advantage of the summer to optimize your year-long performance by:
- Investing in your company’s long-term performance
- Reviewing what’s working
- Developing a marketing plan
- Preparing for the busy fall and holiday seasons
Invest in the Long-Term
Employees naturally push back long-term projects in favor of immediate needs, which can lead to a company shaped arbitrarily by habits that aren’t optimized for growth. That’s why you should focus your summer on new initiatives, when you have time to devote your energy to them. Plus, if you make this a consistent aspect of your seasonal calendar, you’ll reduce or eliminate the seasonal slowdown. There are several great opportunities the summer affords to improve your business, including:
- Aligning your messaging with your brand
- Developing your multi-channel marketing program
- Creating a storehouse of content for use year-round
- Checking on how your business is scaling
Align Your Message with Your Brand
To start, check if your interactions with prospects and customers are supporting your brand. Since your brand is the public identity of your company, it should be an anchor and source point for your messaging. During the busy seasons, messaging might lose coherency as marketers attend to the individual needs of their campaigns. But during the summer, you have time to regroup and reexamine your strategies, then align them under a single, impactful message so prospects will recognize your company each time they engage with you.
A useful tool to organize your messaging is the integrated marketing framework, which supplies a powerful, coherent structure for all your messaging, from developing your brand (by determining the right audience for your business) to conveying that brand through each of your channels in an optimized way that emphasizes their respective strengths.
Develop Your Multi-Channel Marketing Program
Summer’s a great time to check if your channels are working together, and the integrated marketing framework can help you implement or fortify a multi-channel marketing approach. Since the average consumer is online with five different devices, interacting with your company on any number of platforms, coherent messaging needs to be broadcast across all your channels to ensure your brand makes the right impact each time your prospect engages with you.2 In the course of the year, your social media might have taken on a little too much snark for your brand, or your traditional marketing might not be as forward-thinking as you’d like. Take time during the summer to outline for your team a consistent personality and tone of voice based on your company’s values and how you want to communicate your brand.
Create a Storehouse of Content
Because it’s a long-term play, content marketing may not be the first focus in your company. But it’s an investment that pays dividends in all aspects of your business, and summer is a great time to build up content that you can rely on year-round. Once you’ve made a piece of content, it’s yours forever to adapt for everything from social posting to collateral, and if the information stays relevant, one great piece of content can continue to attract leads year after year.
Content marketing works best when partnered with SEO to ensure your ideal prospects see your content. During the summer, you can conduct in-depth keyword research to design your content around topics your target audience cares about, then optimize the content and the website it lives on to ensure your site will appear high in their search results.
Stay True to Your Purpose as You Scale
Reviewing your company’s mission statement with your team is a good practice for all businesses. As new products and services are launched and managed throughout the year, your primary goal as a business can fall out of focus, but during the summer, you can reexamine roles and tasks in your company with fundamental questions about your brand (like who you’re marketing to and what your company values). If you take this step each summer, your company will never lose sight of its purpose, and every employee will know what they need to accomplish within a larger framework, despite a changing environment.
To make the growth of your company even easier, try to concentrate hiring in the summer. Instead of training inexperienced workers year-round and having them tackle major projects without experience in your company’s customs and practices, summer can serve as a period for new employees to get their feet wet with smaller projects before diving into the busy months. The quality of their training will be better as well, since seasoned employees will have more time available to train them and answer questions.
Review What’s Working
As you invest in the long-term performance of your company, you should also use your summer to review what’s working, then develop a comprehensive marketing plan to set yourself up for success in the coming months. Once you’re in the thick of your fall campaign, buying ad space or tracking KPIs, you won’t have much time to stop and reexamine your approach from the ground up, so this is your best opportunity to figure out your plan for the year.
You can start with evaluating how your current marketing practices are paying off by looking at your sales funnel and laying out your campaigns to determine what’s working, what’s not and why. You can assess your marketing techniques with a simple standard: compare past performance to the performance after marketing the product or service. If the performance has not improved, or the strategy has not brought in revenue in excess of cost, then your current messaging needs to be adjusted or cut for new approaches.
Develop a Marketing Plan
From there, you can spend a couple of months before budgeting season to write the marketing plan, which will direct your future efforts. Return to your buyer personas to check in with your audience.
- Are we marketing to the right group, or has our target audience shifted?
- Is our current marketing connecting with our target’s evolving culture?
- Is our product or service helping our audience solve a problem that’s still relevant?
- Are our targets still using the same channels, or should we adapt to new trends?
After reviewing your approach, lay the full groundwork for your campaign around your reexamined buyer personas. By setting up your campaign ahead of time with a clear target in mind, you can avoid losing focus, wasting resources or executing generalized or uncompelling ads. You’ll also be able to coordinate your campaigns so that each takes off and reaches peak activity and attention just as a previous campaign wraps up.
Nurture Your Prospects and Customers
Your marketing plan will work best if the environment you create works for it. How do you create an environment for your messaging? You nurture your clients and prospects well before your campaigns even start. Once you’re trying to market, you won’t be able to drum up ideal leads or loyal customers out of nowhere.
Keeping a customer is at least five times cheaper than signing a new one, so retaining and encouraging them to continue to make purchases is efficient and valuable. In fact, research shows that increasing customer retention rates by five percent increases profits by at least 25 percent.3
Of course, you still need more leads to grow your business. During summer, other businesses slow down as well, freeing up time for communication and allowing prospects to spend more time online. Channels that might not have paid off before could open up for you, so the summer is a great time to experiment with new channels.
Prepare Your Social Media
One of the fastest growing channels is social media: according to the DMA Statistical Fact Book, social media will grow by 14 percent to make up 24 percent of marketing budgets within five years.2 It can be one of your strongest assets for nurturing leads, and thankfully, it doesn’t require writing a Facebook post every day. In fact, you can finish the bulk of your social media campaign before the end of summer.
By preparing a social media posting schedule around major events and using software like Hootsuite to schedule posts across channels ahead of time, by September you’ll have a solid base of social posts set to go without having to lift another finger. You’ll be communicating your brand with multi-channel communications from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, even when you’re occupied with overseeing a fall campaign or enjoying your holiday.
Another advantage of social media is that users can share your content, leading to marketing that takes off without any additional effort. What’s more, shared content is more powerful than standard messaging because 83 percent of consumers say they trust the recommendations of friends and family on what to buy—more than any other source.4
Acquire the Right Help
A seasonal slowdown in sales doesn’t have to bring your business to a halt. Instead, if work is redistributed properly, it can serve as a yearly opportunity to improve your company’s performance. If you apply these tips and make the most of your summer, you’ll succeed in the year ahead and collect the benefits of your investments for years to come.
But there’s always more a business can do to optimize performance. That’s why at Sagefrog, we are open for consultations year-round. Sagefrog is a leading B2B marketing agency with specialties in healthcare, technology, industrial and business services. We combine our acute understanding of these industries with strong business acumen to accelerate the success of your top and bottom line. So don’t wait until the leaves change; take advantage of the season and contact us today!
Are you interested in B2B marketing services? Contact Sagefrog Marketing Group today.
- Workflow Automation and Optimization Software Market Size, Share, Outlook 2025, Transparency Market Research
- Marketing Spend: How to Plan Your Budget for 2017, Sagefrog
- The Value of Keeping the Right Customers, Harvard Business Review
- Recommendations from Friends Remain Most Credible Form of Advertising Among Consumers, Nielsen