By Mark G. Auerbach
It may feel like the dog days of summer, but “year end” rapidly approaches. The “back-to-school” sales seem to have been in place hours after school let out for summer recess. In a matter of weeks, white shoe season is history; the pumpkin spice brigade will push autumn at us, and then everything becomes holiday season. Will you be ready? If you haven’t got a year-end in strategy in place, you still have time, but the clock is ticking.
One thing going in your favor…many people, particularly creative types and decision makers, are more relaxed when the weather’s nice. They’ve had their vacations; they’re getting their time in the sun, and work pressures are tempered by fresh air. You can take the extra ten minutes to think something through, as can your creatives, and your decision makers. In another couple of weeks, with summer a memory, you won’t have that luxury.
• Buy year-end advertising. If you haven’t scheduled your media buys, that is top priority. Do it now. Advertising space is at a premium at year-end, because of holiday buys. Add to that mix the 2016 political campaigns. It’s not the Clinton and Trump campaigns buying all the space, but the state and local election candidates. When demand is high, prices are too, so you may have less wiggle-room and negotiating power if you wait too long. Can you prepay your ad schedule? If you can, it becomes a tax deduction in this year. If you prepay with an airline-mile branded credit card, you may be closer to a winter getaway.
• Schedule year-end printing now. Planning a customized holiday greeting card or year-end mailing? Get them designed and printed now, during the “summer slump.” Many times the cost of a designer and printer are less now, before they get busy again after Labor Day. The same can apply for “premiums”–logo-branded items you may use for holiday gifts or promotions. If you order early, you may save on shipping, because you have enough time to use regular shipping as opposed to overnight.
• Plan year-end social media campaigns. Be they to draw business for the holiday season, or to maintain awareness of your products and services during the time of year when people are overwhelmed and distracted, plan them now. You can develop a schedule with programs like HootSuite, so you can pre-schedule, and let HootSuite do the posts. Remember, keep your presence before your customer base, and also keep your customer base engaged.
• Set your tone. Temper the desire to politicize your marketing campaigns this year. Both sides of the aisle are already shell-shocked over Campaign 2016, and they tend to tune out anything “election” unless it’s really funny. So taglines like “Capture your family’s vote with our award-winning Mayo” or “The Voter’s Choice for Snow Plow Removal” tend to bounce, not stick. If your business has received a legitimate award, by all means capitalize on it.
Resist the temptation to get overly sentimental in your campaign approach, too. One year, a client of mine found some lovely winter scenes of their campus–which evoked a Norman Rockwell look. They prepped their campaign with a phrase something like “when the snow covers the boughs….” Then, the freak October snowstorm hit, and the snow broke the boughs from the trees, and the power lines collapsed, and the entire area was without power for five days. The lovely winter scenes turned the clock backwards two months, minding people of insurance claims, tales of woe, and unhappy times.
What you plan now for a good year-end campaign will give you piece-of-mind during the busy holiday crunch, which will give you time to savor the moments.
Mark G. Auerbach is principal at Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations, a Springfield, MA, based marketing, public relations, development and events consultancy. You can find more information about Mark at Facebook and LinkedIn.