The 4th quarter of the business year is almost upon us and as such, it brings opportunities from back to school marketing to the holiday season and everything in between. But, how can you make these end of year marketing efforts more successful? To find out, we have asked the CarolRoth.com contributor network of business owners, experts, advisors and entrepreneurs to share their best 4th quarter business marketing tips. Their answers are presented below in no particular order.
You may notice some similar ideas listed, but I kept them separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.
1. Q4 Starts in September
Each year, small businesses submit their sites for coupon listings on PromotionCode.org and those that get the premium placements submit their offers to us in September. By October, and certainly November, we're swamped, and that's true of most promotional sites.
By the end of August, determine your Q4 offers and have them submitted (or scheduled for social media) no later than the last week of September for optimal advertising placements throughout the end of the year. Don't procrastinate.
2. Leveraging Organic Traffic
During Q1-Q3, find keywords which people will be using in Q4 to find relevant products/information.
Example: "Christmas gifts for 2018"
Use them in an information content piece. Since Google ranks long-form articles higher, make sure your article is 1200-5000 words long.
Then, start doing outreach to earn backlinks to it.
Once Q4 kicks in, chances are you must have already got ranked for these keywords and will start getting tons of targeted quality traffic and leads.
Syed Irfan Ajmal of Ridester
3. Tie PR to Industry Issue
Tying your PR/Marketing messages to current industry issues is an excellent way to grow awareness of your products/services in the 4th quarter. For example, my client Elemica tied a blog post & e-newsletter to the World Cup, saying the "World Cup is Similar to Connecting Global Supply Chains." In the post, Elemica discusses how people listened to the radio to stay connected to the fate of their team, then later watched TV. He then mentions that connecting business processes to the supply chain has evolved, too.
4. Offers for Regular Customers
The best marketing tip for the 4th quarter is targeting your already established customer base with special offers on social media and through email marketing. Moreover, tailor offers with a time limit, which will create a sense of urgency and drive them to take action. Create special landing pages for the offer and ensure mobile responsiveness.
5. Holiday Cheer Prompts Need
Holiday cheer is the best marketing strategy for sales. Companies save their budget until the last quarter. Available funds need to be spent by year-end or the money is lost. Good cheer prompts need.
Marketing and building relationships are a year-long process. Mid-year relax the conversation. Ask clientele about holiday plans and then, their year-end goals.
Conversations about holidays mentally move clientele to a friendlier exchange. The truth about need naturally comes forth.
6. Unwrap Your Marketing Campaign
Are you Scrooge? Do you withhold gifts from your clients during the holidays? Clients send me emails similar to "I want to hold off on my marketing initiatives for Nov/Dec. Business slows down for me during that time." Why? The best thing you can do is keep your brand "presented as a pretty package". Don't withhold the gift of presenting your brand during the holidays. If you offer something of value, people need it year-round. End your 4th quarter strong! Keep marketing!
7. Thanksgiving Promotion
Why not be different this year? We all wait until the very end of the year to say thank you to our clients and suppliers... but what if we did it earlier than everyone else?
What if instead of Christmas, you said your "Thank Yous" at Thanksgiving? Whether it is an actual gift, a custom card or a donation to a charity on their behalf (my favorite). Saying "Thank You" at Thanksgiving becomes a more memorable time and differentiates you from your competition.
Be bold and tell a better story!
8. Will the Year's Story Stagnate
Craft and tell the story of this year, the successes and the c##p. Tell it well and involve the audience.
Blog to readers and present it to a live audience or the camera.
Take us from where you were after the 3rd quarter to where you will be at the end of the year.
Entertain us with your stories, but educate us with your experiences.
Your year has been a story of your life thus far; don't let it stagnate.
Tell this story and make room for the next!
9. Review! Review! Review!
Take time to review your current plan for the remaining year. Sometimes, it can be easy to decide what’s working and what’s not. In order to determine the effectiveness of the year to date, calculate your Return on Investment (ROI). What were your most and least successful campaigns? After you’ve decided what is working and what isn’t, consider putting more resources into the activities that generated the highest ROI this year.
10. Hello, Hello Again, Hello
In retail, sales are all about 4th quarter, so I recommend marketing to your base often, sending weekly emails and reposting on social media. Sure some may opt, out but others may remember you and buy!
11. Improve Email Delivery Early
Email marketing should be part of your Q4 marketing strategy. One of the frustrations of email marketing, though, is low deliverability. Ask your developer to add SPF and DKIM records. With those in place, you should see an improvement in the delivery of marketing emails within 60 days, so start now. Next, add DMARC records to help further improve your mail's reputation. Both of these changes can be done in a couple of hours and can increase the deliverability of your email by as much as 60%.
12. Use Others' Free Time Wisely
The 4th quarter is ideal to market to high level decision makers. While many c-level and management executives take vacation, there are still a sizable number that use this time to plan. With lighter schedules, executives are more open-minded and willing to explore opportunities that in other times of the year they would not consider fitting into their schedule. Teams should do coordinated outreach to senior management during this time through large scale email efforts and targeted phone calls.
13. Direct Outreach is the Key
The last quarter of the year is crunch time for a lot of businesses. This is when the names who have been sitting on your desk all year need to be contacted. I've found that to get those end-of-year deals done, the best marketing tactic is old-fashioned direct outreach. Send them an email, give them a call, or mail them a handwritten note. The fourth quarter isn't a time to get fancy - it's a time to get things done.
14. Score With Holiday Cards
A great differentiating tactic for holiday cards:
* Buy those blank inside that support charity or a cultural institution.
* Hand write two personalized sentences, indicating thanks & good wishes.
* Instead of gifts for VIP clients, say you've made a donation in their honor to your favorite charity as a special 'thank you' for their support.
* Hand write envelope & return address.
* Mail Fri. before Thanksgiving to avoid being lost in holiday card avalanche.
15. Skip the Obvious Greeting
Skip the Obvious Holiday Greeting and Consider the Unusual...
Ask yourself this - how many Merry Christmas business notices do you get in December? Dozens, Hundreds, More?
What about Kwanzaa at the end of December or National World Kindness Day on November 3rd?
Consider a marketing plan that catches peoples' attention, rather than just blending in with everyone else.
If you received two mailers on the same day, one for World Kindness Day and one for Thanksgiving, which would you read first?
16. Remind Them of the Weather
We install gutter guards, so Q4 is a great time to remind our prospective clients about the reality of living in the Pacific Northwest. This is when we're bracing for our wettest season. All we have to do is remind them of the problems & headaches they experienced last year from not having our product (such as gutter clogs, flooding, & draining issues) & often enough, they give us a shot. It's much better to avoid the problem altogether, as opposed to needing us when it's a monsoon & too late.
17. Biggest Bang for Their Buck
The 4th quarter is a great time to reach out to your customers for contract renewals. Get your customers to keep you in their budgets by kicking off campaigns that address what’s on their minds. They’re busy with the holiday rush and are researching ways to increase ROI in the coming year. Do some of that research for them by offering a competitive cost analysis and case studies. Make sure your messaging clearly communicates how you contribute to their success.
18. Utilize the Nearby College
As an auto repair shop in Boulder, CO, Q4 is when our customers begin driving in snowy conditions; especially since we’re only 90 minutes from ski resorts. Since we’re so close to the University of Colorado, we offer a “Welcome CU Students” package that time of year. This provides the student with a free 40-point inspection of their vehicle, which serves as an assessment for their vehicle’s snow-driving worthiness & it also establishes us as their auto shop for the next 4-5 years!
19. Target Your Loyal Customers
Your most loyal customers are likely to have an extensive purchase history and contribute to your fourth quarter sales. You can identify your top social media followers, email subscribers, etc. and make a targeted marketing campaign. Maybe it’s a VIP promotion or private sale, or creating a marketing campaign targeted at them. You can also time your promotion for the holidays or other major events that your audience enjoys.
20. Clean Your Data!
Data decays over time. The longer it sits in your database, the less reliable it becomes. If you’re relying on email marketing to drive holiday and end-of-year sales, it’s time to get your house in order. Without fresh, accurate and useful data, you can’t market effectively, spend your budget efficiently and reach out to both customers and prospects in meaningful and valuable ways.
21. Focus on Their Year-End
Focus your entire campaign on your most important buyer persona's most urgent year-end challenge. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of a client archetype based on actual research and some select educated speculation. Well-researched personas should uncover exactly what's driving that persona nuts, keeping them up at 2 a.m. Theme your campaign to their biggest aches and pains to knock it out of the park in the 4th quarter.
22. First, Do Some Special Math...
Before you start planning your marketing and advertising for the 4th Quarter, first, take out a calculator and start analyzing your advertising, sales and profit during the last few fourth quarters, and also during the last few years... And... the math you should be using to analyze that is some easy-to-use advertising math called "The Barrows Popularity Factor." It can help you take a lot of the guesswork out of your advertising and it can help all kinds of businesses make a lot more money!
23. Track & Group Audiences Early
Get granular with your digital marketing tracking now. Customers start their research for the Q4 sales early and make general buying decisions within groups of products before the sales start. For digital marketing (Facebook and Google Ads/Banners) make sure you are using specific remarketing or retargeting lists to build a group of audiences around the product categories you offer. When the sales start, you can market the right products and special offers to the right groups.
24. Plan Ahead to Get Ahead!
If you are planning to target customers during Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, it can be successful but the key is to plan ahead. Start brainstorming early and once you have your promotions set, start promoting it immediately to try and cut through most of the noise. All types of businesses can make the most of the official kickoff of holiday shopping and if you get your plan in place and promote early, you can get ahead of competitors and see a good spike in sales!
25. Holiday Greetings Message
I like to end the year with warm holiday greetings to our email newsletter subscribers. Our email newsletter is a marketing tactic that also serves as an extension of our friendly in-person customer service.
26. Get Outside the Square
Don't get caught up in the 4th quarter B2B gift buying frenzy and let your company's gift be diminished in the holiday havoc.
Instead, position your business for a 1st quarter "Customer Gratitude Operation." Giving a gift that is unexpected will produce a strong connection with you and your organization.
Watch the orders follow your gratitude.
Bonus: Less stress.
Vickie MacFadden of PROMOrx
27. Webinars for B2B Prospects
Prospects which are at the bottom of the funnel of your B2B business can be nurtured and closed by using webinars focused specifically on their buyer personals and objections.
Combine that with short-lived discount deals that correspond to several winter holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving) to ensure maximum conversions.
28. Success Leaves Clues
Traditional and digital marketing change quickly. Trends that range from behavior-based email to influencer marketing are just a few developments.
So, how do companies stay current? One timeless strategy that is easy to adapt on any budget: identify the top three influencers in your industry, pay close attention to their successes and implement key practices appropriately. Are you already following influencers? Who are the new voices in your industry with effective tactics?
29. Timely Content
We tailor the content on our site to the time of year. During the holidays in the 4th quarter, we write articles about topics such as Christmas treat recipes for dogs and remedies for overindulgence during the winter holiday season. Our objective is to publish unique articles that address the challenges pet owners face at the end of the year.
30. Pick a Different Holiday...
My 4th quarter tip is to focus on one of the less "popular" holidays. We always do a Thanksgiving card and send that to our client base, instead of a Christmas, Holiday or New Year card. It works really well for us, as we are often the first seasonal card our partners receive and we don't get mixed or lost with all the other Christmas cards. Our card gets a couple weeks alone on our client's counter. Try celebrating a different holiday; it will help your company stand out.
31. Utilize Referrals
Referrals are the most cost-effective way to build a business. Offer an incentive for your existing customers if they bring a friend. The biggest advantage being that this fresh customer has already been pre-conditioned to appreciate your business. Spreading the word through loyal customers propels your business in that final quarter, ensuring a great start to the new year.
32. Don't Start 2019 Without This!
What's worked well for us (as a B2B software company) has been asking businesses "What are you trying to improve next year?"
Q4 is when most of our targets start planning for next year and 99 times out of 100, they want to improve either sales or marketing. Our software helps with both, so it's an easy lead-in at a time we know they're interested.
"You want to reach more customers in . Here's how we'll help you do that. Can you afford not to?"