Women, Spirit & Money: Christmas in July - How to Start Planning Now for the Sales You Want Later

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, Yule, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa in columnist Sherri McLendon’s head. Here, she shares five steps to keep you entrepreneurs from playing catch-up in October.

McLendonI unabashedly admit I’m that crazy lady in your neighborhood who never takes down her holiday decorations. However, my current thoughts of the next big holiday season have little to do with my dubious taste in yard art. In my business, I’ve learned from experience to metaphorically plant seeds in the present for a bountiful garden in the future. Marketing in alignment with the holiday calendar is a must-do if you wish to celebrate by creating increase in your business through brand awareness, list growth, or increasing engagement and understanding relevance.

The five steps to help you get started now:

Step 1: Treat the campaign as a special event

If you planned a party for 100 VIP guests, would you wing it? Probably not, and creating a promotion or campaign for your business should have the same degree of intention. Set a date, decide who to invite, and set benchmarks for preparation.

• Choose the holiday or holidays for which aligned promotions are part of your plan.
• Brainstorm ideas for awesome promotions; then narrow your list to 3-5.
• Match your best ideas to your windows of opportunity.
• Create multiple campaigns for niches within your audience to promote list growth.
• Generally, the campaign delivery date should be about four weeks before the holiday.

Step 2: Get clear about your goals

Good sales goals are measurable and specific. Here’s how I choose mine:

• Identify the biggest problems or needs I have in my business
• Set a goal that I’ll meet once I’ve addressed the problem.
• Identify a tactic which is ideally suited to helping me create a solution and meet the goal.
For example, I will gripe to my friend, “I need to grow my list.” But I may stop there. The problem is too big and the ranges of solutions are too broad. Instead, I ask myself, “how?” I know the secret lies in getting consent from my future clients to share information about my offers. I might:
• Run a contest to celebrate a special occasion
• Ask for ‘votes’ on an issue or question for a chance to win a prize
• Share an incentive, such as a promotion code or mobile-friendly coupon
• Offer a giveaway now to grow my list for future interaction

So my goal becomes, “Grow my list by 10% in order to be ready for the December holiday rush.” I decide to offer a timely, limited giveaway that’s relevant to my brand, the content of which my ideal client really wants and needs and values. In exchange, I will ask for the visitor’s name, email, and current feedback on an important aspect of the work we might do together. The visitor will opt to receive future mailings from me.

Step 3: Publishing the Campaign

Start with a landing page, a designated web page with a unique url (address) to create a hub for your offer. This choice allows use of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, a blog, newsletter, or email campaign to deliver the news of the offer.

Thanks to easily customizable templates readily available online, even non-designers can find a platform and options for creating their own landing pages. A savvy marketer with a do-it-yourself work ethic will want to go light on information, heavy on high quality images or graphics, and issue a clear call to action.

When it comes to a campaign launch, timing can be everything. Holiday calendars already organized around advertising ‘hot’ zones are readily available from publishers online, such as Metro. As a rule of thumb, the behind-the-scenes writing, testing, and syncing begins about six weeks before the public kickoff, more if you’re working with a new team. The campaign may last for any duration of time you choose, though the most successful are limited by hours or days.

Step 4: Promote the Campaign

Promotions for a campaign commonly include free as well as paid options. Free options include

• Updating headers across social platforms
• Adding the campaign landing page link to bios, email tag lines, and headers
• Share compelling images that link viewers back to the campaign page
• Publish “freemium”, on-message content to promote the campaign in article or video forms
• An email series creating an understanding of value and increasing demand
• Create how-to guides as an infographic or slide share ‘content pillar’

If I had to choose a favorite, it would be email communications. Despite the rise of social media influencers over the past decade, email marketing continues to convert contacts into clients at a rate three times higher than social media.

Affordable paid options include social media ads and promoted posts, Google Adwords, video ads or promos, display ads online, and magazine and newsprint advertisements. Currently, WNC Woman staff finds that print advertisements remain particularly effective for increasing brand awareness among highly targeted audiences like this one, which already know, like and trust the publication. Advertisers in WNC Woman can opt to combine online and print options for maximum effectiveness.

Step 5: Idea to Action

When the idea becomes action, the steps include getting launch plan on the calendar, creating benchmarks and accountability, and crafting the content and delivery pieces. Quality, well-planned campaigns definitely help lead future clients to a yes.

Sherri L. McLendon, M.A., is a recognized Asheville area feminine leader, marketing public relations specialist, and content strategist with Professional Moneta International, www.professionalmoneta.com.

This entry was posted in January 2015 and tagged money, women spirit and money. Bookmark the permalink.

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