This time of the year brings up a tough temptation for small business owners. I’m talking about the urge to slack off in the weeks leading up to Christmas, Hanukkah and the New Year. It seems the whole world is relaxing and having a good time. Shouldn’t we join in too?
Thomas Merton said, “The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.” When we settle for the same as the average fellow, we get average results. When we deliver at a level less than our best, we hurt ourselves, our co-workers, and our customers. Average doesn’t cut it in running a small business.
Yet it’s not that hard to get above-average results. We talk about that here in a previous article. Let’s look a little deeper at how big an impact this harmless “holiday temptation” can have on our bottom line.
Our major holidays are Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah, New Years, July 4th, Memorial Day, and Labor Day. Each of these days seem to affect the surrounding week. It’s been my experience that there is an almost universal desire to coast into and out of these holidays. That can kill productivity for the entire week for some businesses.
Look at it another way. Let’s say you have 50 productive weeks during the year, (assuming 2 weeks’ vacation). Each of these "lost weeks" represents 2% (1/50th) of your output for the year. If you slack off and do less or even nothing during the six holiday weeks I just mentioned, you’re losing up to 12% of your annual output.
If the rest of the world is doing a lot less during holiday weeks, how much further ahead of your competition would you be if you decided to do just a little bit more? The net results can be disproportionate to the small extra effort needed.
With that in mind, here are five more small business marketing ideas that are perfect to work on during these quiet times of the year.
1) Do a marketing video.
Like pictures, short videos are worth thousands of words. They don’t have to be professionally done. Use your cellphone, preferably on a tripod to keep it steady. Do a short intro that will compel your prospects to contact you for more info. Or talk about one or more of your products and services. Anything you’d talk about with a prospective client can be put into a video. Then post it on your website and social media.
2) Write an article.
If you have basic writing skills, you can write an article and there are plenty of tips online to guide you. Use it in your company blog or submit it to your industry publications. No time to write? Hire someone. Or find someone on your staff who likes to write and enlist their aid.
3) Start using Google Alerts.
This is a great tool to automatically get information from the web, as it occurs, about anything. You can use it to get alerts on products, on things your customers are talking about, on competitors, even on yourself. (You want to know if anyone is posting about you or your company, positive or negative. There is opportunity there.)
Simply create a gmail account for yourself. Then go to www.google.com/alerts to create alerts. Once created, you can select how often you want to hear about it. There is no limit to the number of alerts you can create. It’s a powerful source of marketing intelligence for business owners.
Be sure to check out a related article, 22 Easy Ways to Instantly Start Using Google Alerts for Lead Generation, Prospecting, Marketing, and Personal Branding.
4) Start your own email newsletter.
Commit to sending out an email to your customers on a regular basis. Weekly is best but you might have to work up to that, starting out monthly or every two weeks. Regular communications will increase your sales and profits.
It's not that hard, and a few hours of quiet time is all that's needed to get started. Use an email service provider such as Aweber. They ensure it's all done legally and will keep you out of spam trouble. If you already have a contact management system with an email system, learn how to use that.
5) Think up one sales promotion for each month of the coming year.
Surely you can think of one reason to celebrate with your customers each month? I just gave you six holidays so that could take care of six months!
If not the holidays, center a sales promotion around a different product or service every month. Or take twelve frequently asked questions and answer them each month in detail. Then tie it in with a promotion. With twelve promotions planned in advance, you’ll feel ahead of the game on January 1.
Having said all this, I’m not saying we shouldn’t take time off to play. Yes indeed, we need time to rest and recharge. But if you’re supposed to be working this week, and most small business owners will be, do one thing more than you planned. Resistance to temptation, in this case, is not futile.
And if you haven’t already done so, sign up for the weekly Small Business Rainmaker below. In it, we plan to keep you ahead of your competition throughout the year!