It’s January. The once beloved Christmas trees are now abandoned on the curb, retail stores are no longer playing Jingle Bells, and gyms are packed with resolution setters. And for many small business owners, January means putting a break on advertising. After all, you spent a fortune getting your name out there during the holidays, and now you need to scale back, right? Wrong!
Marketing year round is essential to the livelihood of your business. And yes, that means in January, too. In this post we’re going to highlight why marketing matters every month of the year and why, in particular, advertising in January is important to set your business up for a successful 2016.
Why Marketing Matters Every Month of the Year
While many businesses, especially small ones, tend to cut or completely eliminate their marketing budgets in January, doing so can actually cost your company money. That is because there is nothing more important than remaining top-of-mind for your clientele.
When looking to make a purchase, consumers go through a buyer’s journey. This journey is an important framework by which to base your marketing strategy. To sum it up, a consumer goes through three core stages in this journey — awareness, consideration and decision. We say “core stages” because this journey has drastically evolved over time, especially in recent years. It’s important to understand that not all of your customers are in the same stage of their buying journey and as such, having a consistent and frequent marketing plan allows you to reach every consumer in the market for your product or service.
Maybe you’ve heard that 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a buyer even reaches out to sales? What that means is they’re becoming acquainted with, and considering your company, long before they reach for their credit card. Going dark in January means you could be missing interested customers. It’s essential to consistently distribute your message to develop brand awareness so that next time someone is in the market for your product or service, they have already been familiarized with your brand.
Even if your business is seasonal, there is value in continuously promoting. Take, for example, popular winter and outdoor retailer The North Face who, for the first time ever, beefed up their year-round marketing with a big spring push. The campaign, that emerged in April called “I Train For,” is a departure for the retail giant that used to only run big pushes during the fall and winter seasons. This shift came when the brand realized that customers use The North Face products year-round.
President Todd Spaletto shared that this new campaign “… set the table for us to make an unprecedented spring investment.” Their choice to extend marketing efforts beyond the fourth quarter has put them on track to reach their current revenue goal of $3.3 billion by 2017, up from $2.3 billion in 2014. Consumers have a strong connection to The North Face brand and “it’s important to maintain that connection with consumers year-round” said Mr. Spaletto.
Keeping a seasonal business profitable throughout the year is a challenge. While these types of businesses can be great, as they offer highly coveted services or products during a few busy months, the difficult flipside to that is the off-season. Seasonal business owners face a unique challenge of squeezing out as much profit as possible during a few short months, and it can often feel like a desperate race to outlast the dormant months ahead.
Some companies shut down their business entirely during the slow season, but others stay open to try and turn a small profit where they can. With marketing, and remaining top-of-mind, you can keep your doors open — and even turn a profit — during the offseason; here’s how:
- Minimize expenses
- Stay in touch with your customers
- Keep marketing through all of your channels
- Offer initiatives for off-season purchasing
- Team up with other businesses
- Switch up your product line
- Plan ahead
Why Marketing Your Business in January Is Especially Important?
For business owners, January is a month that can offer great advertising deals. Since marketers are not hyper-focused on advertising after such a strong push during the holidays, many media outlets offer exceptional promotions and heavily reduced pricing for those that not only run in January, but book advertising for future months.
Another, albeit unique, aspect to consider for 2016 is the political campaign. With election day slowly creeping up on Americans, political campaigns will be buying ad space across all media. In fact, an NPR article cited that political ad spending will top $4.4 billion this year, up from $3.8 billion in 2012. These campaigns have huge budgets and will push smaller advertisers out of the way. Think about about your marketing early to ensure you’ll get the best rate possible and be prepared to be flexible with your run times.
Another reason marketing your business in January is crucial is because frequency is king. Keeping your advertising consistent and frequent will keep the momentum going strong from the holiday season and allow you to remain relevant into the new year. In marketing, one of the concepts that many business owners (yes, even seasoned veterans) lose sight of is frequency of their message. In other words, how many times your core audience needs to be exposed to your message before it triggers a response.
All too often, small business owners will try something once, expect instant results, and then draw the conclusion after a couple of weeks that it was or was not effective. This is comparable to a diet when someone gets discouraged with the results after one or two weeks, drawing the conclusion that the weight loss program doesn’t work for them. Building your brand awareness and a strong reputation is a journey, not a one-time test; it takes an investment and patience to reap the benefits. But most importantly, it takes frequency, even in January.
Yes, your message needs to be compelling and timely, but ultimately advertising and marketing work gradually over time. Frequently, business owners do big marketing pushes during their busy season when in reality, they need to create multiple touch points — exposure you can only accumulate with frequency. In fact, a widely accepted statistic is that it takes 6-8 touches to generate a viable sales lead. So keep your message consistent and your advertising frequent, and you won’t have any issues generating new leads.
A Marketing Minute
There are six simple words that are the kiss of death for small businesses: “Out of sight, out of mind!” We know you’ve heard of it, but it doesn’t just apply to those unanswered emails and texts, in today’s world these six words are the end all be all for business. It’s so important to create top-of-mind awareness with your marketing efforts, and to do so, you need to allot funds to your marketing budget for every month of the year. Yes, even in January!