Guest post by Kathy DalPra of Simple & Savvy Marketing System:
This post is written by Kathy DalPra, owner of Simple & Savvy, a company dedicated to helping entrepreneurs implement and automate their marketing using simple routines and a savvy all-in-one online marketing system:
November is upon us and small business owners everywhere are in a flurry to tap into the flood of opportunity that comes with the Holiday Season. But running promotions and marketing your products and services can easily tie up 60% or more of your business day if you don’t have a strategy in place. The key is to avoid winging it and, instead, take time right now to devise your own holiday promotion schedule. Once you do, you can systemize each step in your marketing calendar to minimize your workload and set your promotions up through the end of the year and beyond.
1. Create Your Promotion Calendar Through 2011
Ok before you let anxiety creep in, don’t worry, I’m not asking you to have all your marketing finished for the next 3 months…just your holiday promotions. Here’s how you do it. Decide how you want to promote yourself through the holidays. Will you be discounting service packages? Promoting holiday-themed products? Clearing out Summer and Fall overstock? Announcing new items? Make a short list of everything you want to promote through November and December. Then, create a schedule for which item or service you’ll be focusing on each week. Mark it on your calendar immediately.
If you’re really feeling ambitious, you can extend your promotions by 2-3 weeks to include all the post-Holiday sales and clearances you’d like to have in January to help you avoid a lull in sales during that month.
2. Chunk It Down
Tackle your holiday promotions in bite-sized pieces by designating 2-3 hours every day for the next 8-12 business days to work on each week’s promotion. Each day you’ll only work on one promotion at a time. In other words, each day you’ll focus on one product or service to promote, according to the calendar you created in step 1.
In those 2-3 hours, you’ll complete every single task necessary to set up your promotion so that it releases on the exact day you desire and does so automatically, without you pushing the button. Use the steps below to customize your own 2-hour routine for what you will do each and every day over the next 1-2 weeks to execute all of your weekly holiday promotions through the end of the year. By having a plan for exactly what you’re going to do each day, and in which order, you’ll maximize your time setting up your promotions and avoid letting it monopolize your entire business day.
3. Prepare Your Marketing Lists
Before you get started on the promotional tasks themselves, be sure that you’re marketing lists are ready to go. In order to automate your promotions, you absolutely must have updated, cleaned data in your targeted marketing lists so that each step in the process goes smoothly.
YOUR DAILY ROUTINE
4. Create Your Product/Service Page
Before I start a promotion, the first thing I do is create or update my product or service webpage. Not only is this necessary if you’ll be linking all your marketing messages to this page, but it’s extremely helpful in getting you into the writing mindset. Once you’ve written or reviewed the features and benefits of your offering, your mind will be primed to develop all the promotional copy necessary in the upcoming steps. Of course, if this isn’t your strong suit, then I highly recommend working with the uber-talented copywriters at Sumer to handle this step for you.
A critical piece to this step is to set the “release” or “publish” date to the date that this offering will go live. So whichever week you plan to promote this offer, be sure to schedule the publish date accordingly. This way, the webpage or product isn’t accessible until the promotion is live and you don’t have to actually click a button to make it live. It’s all automated for you.
Tip: If your offer requires a registration or signup, be sure to test your webform and make sure everything is working.
5. Delegate Your Direct Mail
If you are going to conduct a few direct mail drops, this step will have to come quick because time is of the essence. I highly recommend working with a direct mail company that will take some of the work off your plate. Copy the text off of your offer page and send it to your direct mail contact along with any images you have and your cleaned marketing list. Then, let them create the design and do the dirty work for you. You’ll be glad you did.
6. Automate Your Website Copy
In order to truly put the promotion on auto-pilot, you must be able to set up all your website promotions so that they ‘go live’ on the exact date you want them to. In other words, all of the following promotional tools should be created during your designated time frame and scheduled to publish, or go live, on the same exact date or within a few days of each other depending on your strategy:
- Blog post
- News announcement
- Press release
I recommend creating one single article first about your promotion, such as a blog post, based on the copy within your product or service page. Then, simply modify that article for your Announcements page and your press release, if applicable. By creating all of your copy at the same time, the process will go quickly because the words will be fresh in your mind and you won’t be starting from scratch. Again, if you’re not confident in this department, recruit the talented team at Sumer to handle this for you.
7. Automate Your Promotional Ad Images
Use an automated ad rotator tool to automatically update your promotional images on your website and blog. My ad rotator tool is built into my system and it’s an absolute blessing because I don’t have to go into each blog or webpage to insert a new image when I want to change a promotion. All I have to do is go into the ad rotator module and tell it which images I want it to display for which time periods. Then, it does all the changing for me. When one promotion is done, the next promotion appears on the exact date I need it to, without me pushing any buttons. Plus, it even tracks impressions and click-throughs so that I can evaluate which promotions were the most popular. I highly recommend a feature like this to save you time and automate product and service promotions for long periods of time.
8. Set Up Your Email Newsletters in Advance
Although you may not want to actually write out your full email newsletter many weeks in advance, one thing you can definitely do is start your newsletter template for the week of the promotion you’re working on. Set up the newsletter and add in all the promotional copy and images for that week’s promotion. This way, when you do finally write your newsletter or ezine for that week, the promotional section will already be done. You’ll be glad you got it out of the way early because if you wait to add this in later when the information is not fresh in your mind, it will take you twice as long to write it.
9. Schedule Your Social Media Posts
I don’t recommend using social media schedulers for all of your social media activity, but when you are specifically promoting an event, product or service in advance, they can be extremely helpful. There are many schedulers out there you can try, such as Hootsuite, Ping, Social Oomph, TweetDeck and more. Lately, my favorite has been LaterBro because it’s super easy to use and it doesn’t place a branded logo on your updates, which means that your followers won’t know you scheduled that Tweet or Facebook update in advance.
During your designated time frame and after all your other promotional set up is finished, use the articles and web copy you wrote to help you create little snippets and teasers with links that can be posted to your social media accounts. Then, schedule posts in advance, around your promotional schedule, to announce your holiday offers to your followers.
By taking care of each of these steps up front, you’ll be freed up for the rest of the year to focus on processing orders and finishing year-end business, instead of rushing to get all your marketing messages out the door. Plus, because you’ve created a clear promotional calendar and daily routine for yourself and set aside specific time frames over the next 2 weeks for when you’ll focus on this work, you will not waste time trying to come up with clever ideas or stumble on which step comes next. Everything is systemized for all your holiday promotions for the rest of the year and automated for you so that you can end the year with a splash.
Want to learn more about how you can automate your marketing and put your small business on auto-pilot?
Join Kathy DalPra for a *FREE* CLASS on Tuesday, November 2nd at 1:00pm EST. “Set It and Forget It: How to Systemize Every Aspect of Your Marketing Plan and Put Your Small Business on Auto-Pilot.” Space is limited. To register and get more details, go here.
Kathy DalPra is owner of Simple & Savvy, a company dedicated to helping entrepreneurs implement and automate their marketing using simple routines and a savvy all-in-one online marketing system.
Click the button below to register:
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