Make the Most of the Downtime
6 Ways to Prep for Marketing in 2019
If you’re at work, these next two weeks can be a gloriously quiet time that gives you the space you need to prepare your marketing program for 2019. You may have already completed your budget and your high-level marketing strategy – but when it comes to turning vision into reality, you have to dig into the tactics.
Here is a quick list of things you can tackle during this down time that will help you launch into the new year with a head start.
- Build an editorial calendar. If you haven’t heard the phrase “content is king” you’ve clearly been hiding under a rock. Content is the fuel in your marketing program’s tank, and the best way to ensure it gets created is to plan ahead. Get inspiration by reflecting on 2018 – what are things your prospects wanted to know? What did you wish they knew? What promotions were successful? What didn’t you try that you want to? Assign themes to each month and break down the work into research, creation, and distribution, with deadlines for each.
- Compile and clean your marketing lists. List management can be tedious, but it’s essential. Make sure you have one, central, up-to-date database. Gather any disparate lists you might have from marketing sources such as trade shows, sponsorships, webinars, associations and so on. Extract all new contacts from your work email – and ask your employees to share theirs, too. Pool contacts from disparate technology including chat programs and technical support software. Once you have a master list, clean it for duplicates and any undeliverable addresses.
- Optimize your lists. List segmentation can be extremely powerful but takes a little effort to get off the ground. A perfect project to tackle during this slow time. Analyze your list to look for trends – what are ways to categorize your contacts that will help you create targeted messages? By industry? By geographic location? By company size? By contact title? By product? After you determine your strategy, start tagging and building segmented lists that will enable you to create focused marketing campaigns in the future. Even something as simple as separating prospects and current customers can help create more relevant campaigns that resonate more effectively.
- Create a list of partnerships you are under-utilizing. You can define “partnership” as broadly as you want. Think about the businesses that you work with that you think you can leverage for growth. It can be formal partnerships, informal ones, vendor and supplier relationships, or even membership organizations like trade associations or your local Chamber of Commerce. In the new year, call your reps and ask about their growth plans and new offerings, and see where you can help. Inquire if they have any ideas for your business for the coming year, or any referrals and introductions they can make on your behalf. Even if they don’t have any ideas right away, you’ll have planted a seed and begun to build a relationship that goes beyond a business transaction and will pay off some day.
- Create a list of partnerships you want to pursue. Once you have a solid list of the partnerships you already have, look for holes and gaps. Who else is operating in a complementary space that might be able to give you resources, knowledge, contacts, ideas or new venture opportunities that can help take you to the next level? Make a wish list of partnerships and appropriate contacts to start approaching in the new year. Even if you reach out to only 2 per week, that’s over 100 partnership opportunities to pursue in 2019.
- Design your referral program. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to grow. How can you encourage your customers to spread the love? Design a referral program that fits your business. Maybe it’s focused on digital marketing, asking for online reviews or encouraging social shares. Maybe it’s a coupon program that requires physical mailers. Maybe it’s a referral incentive where customers get a discount if their friends use your services. Or, maybe it’s an integrated mix of channels. Figure out what you need to empower your customer base to become unofficial members of your sales team.
Using this slow time to prep your marketing tools and tactics means you will be able to hit the ground running on January 2nd. Getting your ducks in a row today will be the best gift you can give your business this holiday season.
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