As we approach the year’s end, I like to turn my attention to marketing. Q4 is the time of year when many businesses begin to look at their marketing practices, determining what worked throughout the year and what they can improve on. With that in mind, I sat down with a dear friend of mine, John Riley, to discuss effective end of year marketing strategies and practices. So, join me as we dive deep into the wonderful world of marketing!
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Folks, this year has kicked many of us right in the teeth. We’re exhausted, stressed out, and in many cases, uncertain of what the future holds for us. But putting all of that aside, we still have a reason to move forward. We are entrepreneurs and we need to be ready to face the new year with the same fervor that we do all things in our business. Part of this means marketing so that next year is our best year ever.
However, I have to admit that I get a little lost when it comes to creating effective end of year marketing plans. That’s why I consulted my friend, John Riley. John is the Vice President of Dental Revolution, a marketing firm that specializes in helping dentists to market their practices. But, just because their focus is on helping dentists, that doesn’t mean that their strategies and practices don’t apply to other types of businesses. With that in mind, I asked John four strategic questions that kind of outline the different things that ALL business owners can do to make the most of their year-end marketing.
RELATED CONTENT: Marketing Your Dental Practice (or Business) in Turbulent Times
My very first question for John was this, “What should we do, right now, in Q4 to make next year the best year ever?” Put simply, if you want to have a great year, next year, you don’t begin your marketing plan next year. Before getting into the importance of end of year marketing plans and evaluation, John shared an interesting point. He said that the clients he has that have continued to market their practices throughout the pandemic have come out stronger than ever. In many cases, they’ve broken records within their business.
On the other hand, some of his clients weren’t able to continue marketing during the shutdowns for various reasons, including not having enough cash reserves to support them and their business during times of hardship. As a result, these clients have struggled throughout the year. With that said, marketing is all about exposure and earning trust within your community. Therefore, John recommends three marketing tactics to make next year a great year.
With everybody spending more time at home, having a strong online presence is more important than ever. Throughout the past year, Google has seen enormous amounts of traffic. This is a direct result of the pandemic and indicates that more people are searching for the products and services that they need online. So, make sure that your business is present in the online marketplace and work to actively increase your online ranking through customer reviews and trustworthy business practices.
Direct response targeted marketing is a super-effective means of marketing to your potential client pool. Even better, it is easily tracked so you can be sure that your marketing efforts are working. This tactic generally involves some form of an immediate call to action, like “use this coupon” or “contact us immediately by calling this number.” By using this method, you get measurable results with little to no waiting period. It’s the best of both worlds, folks. You send out a targeted offer to your most likely customers, enticing them to act “on the spot,” and you don’t have to wait to see how effective the strategy is.
One of the great things about direct response targeted marketing is that it can be used across all mediums. With that said, direct mail marketing has actually performed better in 2020 than ever before, according to John. The reason for this is that so many businesses have moved their marketing efforts to Google. This has opened up the market, so to speak, for direct mailing methods. By Dental Revolution’s analytics, 87% of the top 1% of their clients all use targeted direct mail marketing. It’s so effective because it is reaching their specific demographic. However, if you decide to use direct mailers for your direct response marketing, make sure that you’re creating a mailer that stands out. It needs to reflect the quality of your business.
More than any time before, customers and clientele need to be reassured that doing business with you won’t put them or their loved ones at risk. The sad truth is that many people are affected by COVID-19, and it has caused people to be fearful for their health and safety. Using social media enables you to reassure your prospective clients that you are taking every precautionary measure to guarantee their well-being, in a very personalized way. Making that personal connection has become a very big part of marketing during the pandemic.
Folks, by now you know that what you see is what you get with me. I am unapologetically me. That is the type of personal connection that people want from business owners. Now, I’m not saying this in any sort of vain, “look at me” statement. I’m just saying that the greatest appeal that your business has is you. Don’t be afraid to be raw and real with your customers. Let them see your humanity and get to know you, as a person. When you’re able to convey that kind of personal social media presence, that’s when your prospective clients are going to feel like they can relate to you. That’s when they begin to trust that you care for them and not their wallets.
Fifty-six percent of companies around the world now have remote workforces. The landscape of how business is conducted is quickly evolving. But how does this impact the way business owners market their businesses? Believe it or not, the change in our work environment has absolutely changed the way businesses are being marketed. Once again, John gave me three ways to market in the era of remote workforces.
All of the information that we’ve covered up to now is great. But, unless we put these things into action, they are only great ideas. So, when making a plan for your end of year marketing, there are things that must be considered. Not only should you know what you want to do in the coming year, but you need to know how you’re going to do it. Therefore, your marketing plans should always be in writing, they should be quantified, and they need to be measurable. If they aren’t in writing, there’s a good chance that the plans will never get beyond the idea stage of your planning session. Without quantifying them, there’s no way to truly gauge the overall success of your plan. And if your marketing tactics aren’t measurable, you’ll have no way of knowing whether your specific tactics worked.
Having been through this process many times in my own businesses, and in those of my clients, these are things I believe very strongly. However, I thought I should defer to the marketing expert while I had his ear. According to John, the meat and potatoes of every marketing plan are that it has to be quantifiable and must be able to be applied to your business. More specifically, he believes that it comes down to traffic and conversion.
Traffic is often up to your marketing firm. It is their job to drive consumers to your business. More than this, your marketing firm should be targeting specific segments of the public that are the most likely to become customers or clients of your business. I like to think of it like fishing. If you go out on the water and simply toss a line in the water, you’re not likely to catch anything. On the other hand, if you just toss a worm on your hook, you could end up with anything from bluegill to catfish. But what if you’re trying to catch trout?
In order to catch the exact fish that you’re looking for, you must know where it is located and what type of bait it is attracted to. Therefore, tossing worms into a pond probably won’t get you the trout that you’re looking for. Instead, your marketing team will direct your efforts to the right body of water and supply you with the bait that is most attractive to your desired clientele.
Many business owners are surprised to hear that lead conversion is their responsibility. If your marketing firm is driving traffic to your business and you aren’t gaining customers, that’s on you. Your team must be well trained and equipped to convert all leads into clients. In the article, Marketing Your Dental Practice (or Business) in Turbulent Times—which I have provided a link to, earlier in this post—we discuss the four quadrants of marketing. These four quadrants apply to the synergetic nature of traffic and conversion. They are:
Whether times are good or times are bad, one thing remains true. If you want to have consistent results, you must give a consistent effort. Too many times, I see clients cut their marketing because they have too few clients. This is exactly when you need marketing the most! People don’t know your business exists if you don’t let them know. On the other hand, I’ve had clients who will stop marketing because they have a large clientele. This is equally harmful because marketing is about creating a consistent flow of customers.
If you’re in the midst of a drought, you don’t put up a dam to stop the stream from flowing through your fields. Likewise, you don’t tear down the dam to alleviate the flood. Instead, you have the dam in place with tools that allow it to provide consistency in all types of weather. Thus, preventing drought and flood.
Friends, life is hard. We all know that. Life can be frustrating but it’s still so good. Likewise, end-of-year marketing can be complicated but it doesn’t have to be. With a solid plan and the right attitude, we can at least make it financially simple. Let’s go out and make next year a great year!
If you have questions about developing your end-of-year marketing plan, or if you just need financial advice, schedule a meeting with us! The Financially Simple team of experts will assess your business’ needs to see if we’re a good fit.