Monday, August 31, 2020

Want a Strong 4th Quarter? Push These 4 September Marketing Themes

For obvious and understandable reasons, many companies have experienced shaky, unpredictable, or downright rotten business during the first three quarters of 2020. Maybe you've found your own enterprise bumping along on a rickety roller coaster this year. But even in the face of change, certain key elements of life remain, including seasonal milestones. September has always played host to some key themes for sales and marketing campaigns, and there's no reason you can't or shouldn't work these themes as hard as you can to boost your fourth-quarter success. Let's look at four flags worth rallying around.

1. Autumn

Autumn is always, well, autumn. The leaves change color and fall, the temperatures start to drop (even here in Texas), the shadows lengthen, and the world generally takes on a particular flavor and color that puts people into fall-weather mode. In other worlds, everything changes, however slightly. If change is indeed in the air, why not emphasize that point in your September marketing content? Your clients or customers will definitely welcome any shift that gives them reason to feel reassured, energized, and positive. Now is the time to roll out that exciting new product, helpful new service, or stunning new brand.

2. Labor Day

Despite the layoffs and furloughs that have jeopardized so many incomes, people are still working. Sure, many of them are working from home now, and individuals who lost their jobs are either seeking new employment or starting their own businesses. It follows, then, that Labor Day might hold an especially valuable place in your 2020 marketing calendar. People want to work, appreciate the ability to work, and generally think about work with a special intensity right now. Can you create marketing content that addresses their concerns, supports their feelings, and gives them fresh optimism? If so, you've got a message the world wants to hear.

3. Football

What's up with football this September? College conferences have cancelled their entire seasons, while the NFL is prepared to alter its season calendar in the event of coronavirus-based delays. Even so, you'll see football fans raring to talk about their teams, participate in fantasy football, and grab opportunity to enjoy their favorite sport. And when they can't have football, they actively miss football. Give them what they want -- or a whiff of it, anyway -- by creating football-themed content for your fall marketing efforts. You just might win big.

4. The Holiday Season

Yes, the holidays are still coming. Your target audience may have gotten sidetracked from their normal razor-focus on early holiday planning and shopping, but that doesn't mean that they aren't ready to hear about your special offers. It's up to you to turn their attention back toward the approaching end of the year. Holiday-themed marketing offers a comforting sense of familiarity and order that can restore your customers' sanity and prime their enthusiasm to have some fun for a change.

As you can see, September offers loads of marketing opportunities for clever, on-the-ball businesses. If you want to make that list of fourth-quarter success stories, contact your marketing professionals and put them to work right now!

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Take a "Back to School" Approach to Your Marketing Strategies

Normally, this time of year is dominated by the mad rush to get back to school, from parents buying up cartfuls of school supplies to kids reacquainting themselves with an early-morning wakeup time. This August obviously feels a little different, but education will resume in one form or another. Maybe it's time you also took yourself back to school, in the sense of re-examining your marketing strategies and techniques -- or maybe you need to educate your target market on certain aspects of your business. Here are some suggestions to help you get your third quarter off to its usual bustling start.

Adjust Your Content for Changing Attitudes

Your current and prospective buyers have gone through a lot in the past year. What shifts in your target market's spending habits, needs, fears, concerns, and goals might require you to alter the tone or direction of your marketing content? You can't necessarily keep charging forward with your usual message as if nothing has changed. Give serious thought to creating fresh blog posts that directly address your target market's current mindset. Add content to your website that answers specific questions about your ongoing availability and services.

Update Yourself on the Latest Technologies

Have you allowed your marketing technologies to fall behind the times? Especially over the past several months, individuals are embracing social media and other interactive platforms more deeply than ever -- and you can reach them through these avenues. For instance, have you thought about incorporating Zoom into your marketing arsenal? You can use this video conferencing platform for marketing pitches, webinars, and other presentations that promote your products, services, and brand. You can even record those presentations and then figure out ways to repurpose the content for blog posts and other marketing pieces.

Take Another Look at Networking

Speaking of online platforms, business networking has taken to the Web in a big way lately. Weekly or monthly networking meetings that once met in person have shifted to a safer online-only environment -- and these networkers are still passing referrals and generating income for each other. Better yet, these (frequently Zoom-based) meetings don't have to limit themselves to one physical location, meaning that business owners and representatives can hob-nob with each other from anywhere. If you've avoided networking activities because you simply couldn't tear yourself away from your desk, guess what? You can now promote your business and learn about other business to your heart's content without leaving your computer.

Mark the return of the school year (more or less) by turning your business focus toward some timely marketing self-education. After all, you can always profit from learning!

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

How to Make Your Marketing Quite Interesting

If you're any kind of Anglophile, you've probably seen or heard of a popular BBC quiz show called QI, which is short for "Quite Interesting." The moderator (formerly Stephen Fry, currently Sandi Toksvig) poses questions loosely related to a topic of the week, and a four-person panel tries to come up with answers that win points. The panelist with the highest score at the end of the show wins. All very simple and straightforward, right?

Well, not quite. One of the most, ahem, interesting things about this freewheeling quiz panel show is its eccentric, almost arbitrary scoring system. As you might expect, panelists win points for providing a correct answer to a given question -- but they get even more points for an interesting answer. (If your answer is both correct and interesting, you can really clean up.) They get points taken away for an answer that's not only wrong but actually dull and predictable in its wrongness. Why? Because amusing, captivating responses are generally more entertaining than mere facts. 

Many businesses fail to take this "sparkle factor" into account when promoting their products or services to their target audience. In my own experience as a marketing content writer, I've noticed that businesses in more the more technical industry verticals are especially vulnerable to falling into this trap. They feel an obligation to present the most accurate, precise, detailed data possible as a means of demonstrating exactly why they're better than their competitors. 

Unfortunately, clubbing your buyers over the head with facts doesn't necessarily have anything to do with sparking their interest. Fact sheets tend to make poor marketing documents because successful marketing touches its audience on an emotional level. Outrage, delight, confidence, anxiety, relief -- these and other feelings move people to take action in a way that sheer logic cannot. The targeting of emotion doesn't just spur action; it also enhances memory. Research indicates that people find it easier to remember things that trigger emotional responses.

Successful marketing also means find an unusual hook or arresting entry into the material it presents. I'm not suggesting that you attend sales meetings wearing a rubber nose or program your website to run circus music and cartoons every time someone goes to it. But whatever information you present in your marketing content needs to grab the reader or viewer on some emotional level or other, and presenting it from a clever or unusual angle is one way to accomplish that. 

Amuse, astonish or jolt your audience, and you've got your foot in the door. Once your audience is engaged, you can begin throwing those serious facts out there with some certainty that they'll get a friendly welcome. It's still important to be accurate -- but in the world of marketing, it's even more critical to be interesting.

Now go out there and score some points with your audience. If you need some help, you know who to call!