I’m seeing far too many businesses struggle to bring on more customers during this time of year. For most industries, the mid to late summer months can be slow while families change spending habits and leisure activities. The start of the school year and fall can provide a boost, but far too many companies come to me just before the holiday season to ask for enormous campaigns to save their year. Don’t let this happen to you!
In order to gain customers before and during the holiday season, businesses need to prepare a plan months in advance. This plan should start with an analysis of the digital plumbing that shows online traffic and the flow of content between platforms like the website and social media. The plan must also take a detailed look at the signals a business is sending to search engines and other consumers
Consumer habits are shifting toward more online spending and pre-purchase research in 2019. This makes it very easy to tell if a company is properly positioned for a big sales increase or a letdown. Unfortunately, many businesses are still struggling to put their messages in front of people and they forget to utilize the messages others are giving them to help boost sales.
I am helping clients every week to get out ahead of their competition during the slow months. Every business is different and I work with businesses in a lot of different industries. Some sell products and others provide services. Regardless of the type of business, every business owner, entrepreneur, and marketing manager should be utilizing these 5 steps to help gain customers before the holiday season. If you wait much longer, you run the risk of being way behind competitors during what should be the best time of the year. And that’s if your business can afford to wait that long.
1. Become a jockey for your business
How are you going to guide your business through its course during the final months of the year? The best jockeys in the world have a game plan before every race. Most business owners and marketing leaders I meet with feel as though they are literally racing toward the next big sales portion of their year. However, very few have determined the details necessary to determine if their business is performing optimally during that time.
Think about it this way. The game plan for a race is just one small portion of the plan needed to help a jockey win. Just like the game plan for your holiday season promotion is one small part of why customers might choose to buy from you. There is an enormous amount of prep work that needs to occur before the big race or, in your case, marketing promotion. But how will you know if all your hard work is even effective?
I have seen far too many companies invest thousands and thousands of dollars into local marketing campaigns with so-called expert agencies, only to launch the campaign and find out it was ineffective. Or worse, after launching the campaign the business cannot even tell if it worked because they weren’t tracking the metrics correctly.
Right now, before the hectic holiday season begins, you should be making sure that all of your digital plumbing is in place. This a completely free task that every business can achieve by creating spreadsheets to track analytics and KPIs from the website, Facebook, Google, and other online platforms. If you need help cleaning this up or don’t know where to begin, there are a lot of free online tutorials on Youtube. In some cases, it might be easier to ask us for assistance and we have some incredible proprietary software to help organize all of this information into easy to read reports with action steps.
2. Streamline your Feeding Frenzy Formula
The Feeding Frenzy Formula is what we call our sales process at Shark Jockey. Every sale and customer are not necessarily part of the formula, just like every time a shark eats it is not called a ‘feeding frenzy.’ This term should be reserved to specifically refer to the times of the year (or specific products) that attract the most potential leads for your business.
Your formula should outline each step in the sales funnel that an eventual customer might take. It is important to write this out and then make sure it is not so complicated that you scare away the fish. Another big problem I see from clients at first is that their formula either does not exist on paper, or it is so complex that they lose leads before they have a chance to become customers.
This step is completely free but just like step 1, this can also take some time to consider. Begin by mapping out your usual sales funnel. Write down every step between awareness and purchase. Then, do the same for the process you will use during the peak time of year for your business. This might be in relation to a specific time period, like the holidays. Or, it could also be in relation to a specific product, like a new item to be released. Consider how these two processes are or should be different. Your Feeding Frenzy Formula should be a streamlined version of the normal process. It should not allow for leads to be distracted by a lot of extra options or information.
Bonus points go to those marketing leaders who realize the feeding frenzy formula might stop or start with opportunities to retain customers and even ask for referrals.
3. Create a call to action that is remarkable
A third technique that most companies seem to forget is that they need to give people a reason to look twice. One client of mine recently called me during the middle of the day to tell me they finally understood what this meant. I had been telling this person over and over that their business was losing sales partly because there was no new reason for customers to come back. The business’ product had been largely the same for years and unfortunately, so was the call to action (CTA). Meanwhile, every other competitor was providing new reason after new reason for local customers to try something new. In that kind of environment, it is very difficult to remain top of mind at key moments without providing a unique reason why customers should visit.
The remarkable CTA does not have to be a discount or sale, although many inexperienced marketers immediately start thinking along these lines. The remarkable CTA might be brand positioning, a new slogan, a unique theme for the season, a catchy jingle, or new commercial that sticks in people’s minds. The creative aspect of this is one reason why businesses are willing, and often eager, to spend millions of dollars on holiday or Super Bowl commercials.
At Shark Jockey, we tell clients that this is the step where they ‘Sharpen their teeth.’ Your remarkable CTA should be positioned around that Feeding Frenzy Formula created during step 2. Most importantly, it should needs to be a sharp idea that cuts into the psyche, emotions, and/or pain points of the people you are trying to reach.
4. Determine which platforms provide a strategic advantage
I see too many business owners and marketing managers who are happy to tell me their sales pitch but scared to death to perform their pitch on social media. I have received lengthy emails crying for help on sales, but those same people freeze up when asked to transfer those thoughts to a new landing page or blog.
When it comes to deciding on the platforms that your business should be on, it is important to learn the current strengths of each. Create short videos on Youtube might be much more important than spending hours curating content for Facebook and Instagram. There are also a lot of companies still creating huge success from Pinterest but very few local entrepreneurs understand how or why they should use Boards.
At Shark Jockey, we have learned which bodies of water to race in. Now we help clients do the same.
By now, everyone has gotten the message that social media can be a great way to increase sales. Unfortunately, they seem to forget website content and email marketing are usually even more important for sales. I love social media marketing and have had tremendous success with clients spending between $500 and $500,000 on Facebook. But I often suggest using a lot of different social media platforms, or even other advertising forms altogether, because that might provide an advantage for the client’s specific situation.
Just this week, I spoke to a client who was attempting to post on Facebook daily because that’s what he thought he was supposed to do. Other people had told him for years that they had success on Facebook so he believed that was where he should spend some time every day. After nearly a year of effort, this person was asking for help because he still struggled to get above 30 ‘likes’ on the business page. That is a lot of effort for very little return on investment (ROI).
Facebook is not an area of strategic advantage for this person. At least not yet. In order to help him, and others like him, I recommend first looking at the strategy behind other digital platforms. For businesses that are unsure about where to put their time and energy in order to see an ROI this holiday season, now is the last chance to figure out where strategic advantages might be hiding. Once your digital plumbing is in place (see step 1 above) it should be very easy to see which platforms have been most effective for your business during the previous months and years.
Discovering areas of opportunity is just the beginning. It can take a little bit of time to build a follow and create the platform-specific content needed to gain ROI during peak times of the year. Once again, there are a lot of FREE ways to create awesome content on every online platform. Most of the time, my clients struggle to create modern content that shares their remarkable CTA in a manner that grabs people’s attention. This is another strategic advantage Shark Jockey provides. I have several great tools that make it easy to create awesome messaging, graphics, and videos for your business quickly.
This year felt like one of the fastest in history and its scary for many businesses to think about rushing to hit goals before the start of a new decade. Fortunately, the steps above offer some great free ways to help marketers, business owners, and entrepreneurs prepare to add more customers during the holiday season.
It’s hard to do everything at once. If you feel like you’re wearing too many hats and don’t have time or know where to begin, I make it easy to get started. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation and begin your own Feeding Frenzy Formula.
Nick is the owner of Shark Jockey Digital and 20 year veteran in the marketing industry. He currently helps clients with development projects, lead generation, website creation, SEO, SEM, PPC, social media marketing, Google reviews, online listing, and campaign management.