Show of hands – who likes roller coasters? Ok, great. I’m sure we have some adrenaline junkies amongst our readers. Now who likes when their balance sheet looks like a roller coaster? Yeah, we didn’t think so. This easy to grasp notion begs the question: Why don’t you just get off the ride?!
Stay with us here. What we’re trying to illustrate is that your sales will reflect your marketing mix and strategy. If you’re viewing a consistent series of peaks and valleys there is a reason.
For the purpose of this post let’s use the working title of “The Peaks & Valleys Marketing Mix.” As you can probably deduce from the name, the objective is to lessen the gap between highs and lows. We know what you’re saying: well duh. This seems so basic – and you’re right! The challenge for businesses and brands, however, is different departments or colleagues will always have different preferences. One department might want to dump money into traditional channels while another embraces social media wholeheartedly. What’s more, it’s difficult for small to medium size businesses to be methodical about their marketing. Frequently short term needs can derail longer-term marketing efforts. Basically, what seems like common sense on paper frequently doesn’t play out that way in real life. That said we don’t need to lament the detriment of constantly riding highs and lows because you already get it. What we want to illustrate is how to maximize the effects of your marketing efforts to help you break the cycle.
A marketing tactic focused on getting to the “peak,” in broad terms, is anything with a time sensitive and/or compelling call to action – “buy now,” “limited time only” and so on. Inherent to the language is a sense of urgency. You’re not going for a leisurely walk; you’re sprinting to the top. If you’re allocating all your resources to get to the ‘peak,’ inevitably it’s going to be a long, lonely ride down. Once you plateau in that valley the concerns about generating new leads, brand awareness or sales are never far behind. While some of the “peak” tactics can be utilized at any time, typically these tactics are used to generate a spike in interest and/or sales.
- Email marketing
- Events, promotions
Contrasting the sprint to the top, think of that nice and easy jog along a flat plane, or a valley if you will. Valley tactics are ones that bear fruit over a longer term, which also need consistency to be successful. These tend to be a little more evergreen by nature but can be the equalizing force to narrow your ride down from the peak.
- Site maintenance, updates
*Yes, we did include PR in both. Generating earned coverage can take time, hence something that can/should be worked on during the valley period. However, when you do secure earned media, typically the result is a spike in interest.
So what do you do? Three Things.
As a prelude, really the first thing is to embrace the entirety of the peaks and valleys. If you’re making decisions from a reactionary place, constantly starting and stopping, you will sabotage all your marketing efforts. Part of this is adopting a cool and calm mindset and understanding that peaks and valleys are ahead. Pulling the plug when things naturally wind down means starting over. And over. And over. You can never accurately monitor your marketing return if your only benchmark is a “peak.” Understand what will happen over 6, 12, 18 months and become OK with it.
1. Acknowledge & Plan.
First, plan for both peaks and valleys equally. Ultimately to have success you need both and every business has a “busy” period. Don’t get consumed by your busy season and then lament the slow down in between. With some planning, you lessen the pain. Create a simple 12-month calendar and populate with as much detail as possible, e.g. key holidays, busy/slow periods, etc. Seeing this laid out in detail makes planning much easier and allows you to target critical times.
2. Leverage the “Peaks”
There’s a reason Kim Kardashian is famous – she keeps leveraging her 15 minutes of fame. Inevitably you will come down from the peaks. The sale will end and the notoriety will fade, but you want to parlay that buzz. Divide and conquer; identify a staff member that can take the lead on shifting from “peak” to “valley” so things move seamlessly and minimize the transition.
3. Maximize Down Time
How often have you heard “there’s not enough time”? Well, guess what, if you know there is a seasonal or natural lull to your business, use some of that down time to work on your business and not in it. Take some of those non-prioritized marketing or process tasks and get them tackled when you can gain clarity by not being stretched too thin. Or use the down time to imagine your next big campaign that will maximize the busier times.