September is right around the corner, and you know what that means. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to sit down and plan out your promotions for the fall.
The fourth quarter begins with back to school sales and ends with the holidays – truly a make-it-or-break-it period for many small business owners. Some strategic planning now will allow you to bring your A game to this critical time period. Here’s what you need to do to help make your register ring.
Create a Promotional Calendar
Step one is to outline your sales events and promotions for the next 4 months, and then determine how you’re going to share information regarding these on your website, email marketing & social media.
Use an actual calendar to do this: it makes it much easier to see when you don’t have anything ‘officially’ going on, as well as times when you’re trying to convey too many messages at once. For best results, you want a balanced approach, where there’s always something worthy of your customer’s attention, without overwhelming them.
To help you jump start your planning, here is a list of some noteworthy sales themes/events that occur between now and the end of the year:
- Back to School
- Labor Day
- Columbus Day
- Election Day
Set Goals for Each Month
For each promotion and event you list on your calendar, you’ll want to have specific goals. Determine what you’d like to see happen in terms of sales, new traffic, and any other meaningful metric. Write these goals down, and then figure out how you’re going to make this happen, channel by channel.
In other words, if you know you’d like to attract 50 new customers to your Halloween event, determine what messaging vehicles you’re going to use to get that attention. Let’s say you decide to use a print ad, Facebook, and your website. Best practices would include building a tracking mechanism into your campaign (such as a coupon or discount code) so you can identify where your new traffic is coming from. After the event, you’ll want to look at those results and see if your expectations of each platform were met. It may be that you got 47 new customers from Facebook and only 1 from your print marketing: this is good information to have when you make budget decisions moving forward.
The best marketing plan in the world won’t help you if you never implement it! Give your team deadlines, clearly articulating when promotions must be launched on social media, your website, and other platforms. Timing the promotion of a sales event isn’t too tricky: the ideal time to get attention is shortly before and during the event. It’s also important to ensure that imagery regarding the event (such as cover photos or website sliders) is removed ASAP after the event has concluded.
Also give your leadership a firm deadline after the event, by which time you want to have the results of the event analyzed. Discuss what promotional efforts worked and which ones need refining. This will give you time to adjust & implement better strategies for your next event. Constant improvement is the mantra of all small business owners who want to thrive in what looks to be the most competitive fourth-quarter ever.
Need help making this happen? Give us a call. We do it all, from concept creation to expert implementation.