Avoid hitting the skids: Here are some ideas to allow you to enjoy summer and also keep your marketing moving forward.
“”Summertime, and the livin’ is easy,” as the song says. Even in California, summertime has a different, more laid back feel, which can be both enjoyable and distracting when you’re trying to keep your marketing momentum going.
What often happens is that marketing, perhaps going strong since January, hits the skids – the marketing trough of summer. Every season presents its own marketing challenges. Here are some ideas to allow you to enjoy your summer and also keep your marketing momentum moving forward.
Modifying your strategy can give your marketing a boost. In summer, not only do you have to deal with your own distractions, such as preparing for vacations, but you have to deal with the fact that clients and prospective clients are also distracted, out of the office, etc. Business and marketing energy ebbs.
Focus is the watchword here. Summer requires more focus to keep the momentum going. At other times of the year, you can be carried by the generally higher business-energy level. Phones may ring and clients call even if you’re not out moving and shaking. But in the summer, you probably have to focus with the intention of making it happen yourself.
Reviewing and revising your plan at this time of year has the ideal aspect of being able to look at your first-half results. Analyzing the first six months’ history can give you direction and provide an effective springboard for your second half. Sometimes, it’s tempting to keep doing what you’ve been doing and not step back to take a look at the bigger picture. But it can be well worth the effort.After you examine your history of the year’s first half, reflect on what it portends marketing-wise for the balance of the year. Is one practice area unexpectedly standing out in terms of sales? What has worked and what has not? What are the trends, both in terms of your firm’s sales and revenue and how do they indicate you should change your marketing?
If you truly want to get the biggest marketing bang out of the upcoming half-year, you’ll put together a tailored and detailed plan. Many professionals think that there is no sense creating a plan if you didn’t do it starting from January 1, but your marketing plan can start any time. If you have an annual marketing plan, re-visit it and adjust it based on the first-half results and other first-half changes that affect it. If you worked the first half of the year without a plan, now is the time to put one together. It does not need to be a voluminous tome; it can be a couple of pages bullet-pointed with what you want to accomplish, quantified as much as possible with a time frame. What do you want to achieve? By when? Who else needs to be involved and responsible?
Look at this up-coming half-year as a whole. Envision those six months as the entire universe, not the half of a whole. Looking at your goals and objectives and how to get them done in this time period, can be stronger than looking at the time period as part of the total year.
Imagine that it is December 31, 2004. What do you want to look back at and say you accomplished between July and the end of December? If you want to have every shot in accomplishing it, you’ll sit down today and plan it out. Your streamlined marketing plan should clearly state your goals, as specific as you can make them. They should be quantified, measurable and have a time frame. Not, “I want to increase business,” but “I want to increase business by X percent from a specific practice area by Nov. 15.” Your goals also should be realistic. Yes, you want to stretch, but you also want to feel like you’ve reached a benchmark.
Chart it out. As we all know too well, six months can fly by. If you capture it now, and lay out your plans out for the time period, you can significantly enhance your results. Sitting down and putting your plan on paper can make a major difference in your success. Your ideas crystallize when you “make them real” on paper.
A timetable is a key aspect of the plan. Six months is enough time to make a difference in terms of marketing, but you’ve got to put together your timetable and get into action now or you’ll lose both time and momentum. For example, if you’re planning a seminar or client event in October, you’ve got to be planning that now, especially with the intervening doldrums of summer when people are out of the office and delay decisions.
Because the summer can be a less hectic time of year, there can be more time for strategizing, and for the “clean up” marketing projects that never seem to get done. It’s a great time for making sure your foundation is solid. Maybe you’ve had a great first half, but don’t feel comfortable that you’re on a solid marketing foundation. For example, is your database “clean” and up-to-date? If a glowing article about you appeared on the front page of a major publication today, could you get it out to your database tomorrow, or would you have to start updating it?
The often-slower pace of summer does not necessarily mean a decrease in productivity. Focus on those projects that you might not have time for when things pick up but can have a big payoff. Write that article that’s been on your mind or find out who you need to talk to pursue those speaking engagements you’ve wanted without waiting for them to come to you.
Determine a plan to create accountability for yourself. Share your plan with a trusted colleague or a friend and ask them to check back in with you at agreed-upon intervals. However, this plan is not a tool to use to beat yourself up. If you didn’t get everything done, just re-dedicate yourself to working with the next interval.
Share your plan with everyone who will play a role in your success – your administrative assistant, paralegal, and associates, even your firm’s marketing director. If everyone knows the direction you’re going in, they’ll be better able to help you build the momentum to get there. Even if the marketing director can’t devote full-time to you, he or she will know what you want to achieve and can steer marketing opportunities your way.
Marketing calls for patience, persistence and perseverance as well as for a passion and enjoyment for what you do. Effective marketing also calls for planning. By building a solid foundation you can put summer to it’s best marketing use and build a solid base for a terrific second half.
Sharon Berman is principal of Berbay Marketing & PR, a marketing consulting firm specializing in working with professional services firms. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The firm’s website is www.berbay.com.