Q4 is here! For some businesses, it’s the busiest time of year as clients are using up remaining 2016 budget. For others, it’s a slower time as clients scale back on business activities around the holidays. For most every business, however, the fourth quarter is a race to finish up the year financially strong and be prepared for the year to come.
If you want to make a difference in your bottom line this quarter, you have to do something different to affect top line revenue. (Translation: You need more leads!)
Here are five ideas for marketing efforts in Q4 that won’t break your budget but will pay off now and into 2017:
1. Run a “Thank You” Campaign
If you don’t have time for any other campaign, this is the one to do. Thank your customers for their business. There is nothing worse than taking your current customers for granted. (Your competitors won’t!) While this may not result in an immediate effect on your sales, think about it this way: When clients feel the love from you, they are not likely to shop elsewhere (keeping existing revenue) and you will be top of mind for referring to others (future revenue). So how to go about it?
- Send a good old fashioned handwritten note through the U.S. mail. We agree with your mom on this one: a thank-you note is much appreciated. (And it will stand out from the tons of emails in their inbox every day.)
- Find something of value to offer that says “thank you”: This does not have to be expensive—it could be as simple as a book you enjoyed reading, a report or a published article that would benefit your clients, an online software tool you have found valuable, or an offer to write a LinkedIn recommendation (or help them connect with your LinkedIn contacts).
- If you have a little more to spend on gifts, some ideas include a basket of goodies from local stores (talk to our friends at Georgia Crafted) or a gift card for your clients to have fun with their families or enjoy a quiet cup of coffee.
2. Kick off a Referrals Campaign for Customers and Partners
We dove into this topic in more detail in a previous post, but to summarize: Be proactive about generating new referrals for this quarter and into 2017.
- Pick your top 3-5 referral partners and make a date to meet in person for coffee/lunch with each one and compare client stories. If your partner offers truly complementary services to yours, I guarantee you “thar’s gold in them thar hills.” Also a good opportunity to discuss a potential joint event (more on this below).
- Run a referrals contest for your clients (and former clients) where each person that submits a qualified referral by calling, emailing, or filling out a Web form is entered into a drawing for a desirable prize. Winning motivates!
3. Go Visit Your Top 5 Clients
Choose your five best clients (more if you have time) and plan to meet in person. During that time, let them know you appreciate their business, of course, but also solicit their feedback on what they like about your business, how you can improve your services, and who they may know that could use your help.
Ask them these questions:
- How would you rate our services from 1 to 10?
- Is there anything we can be doing better?
- What other products/services should we be offering?
- Would you refer us to other businesses seeking [your services]?
- Would you be willing to let us interview you for a case study or testimonial?
In Q1 2017, you can revisit the clients that agreed to an interview and turn them into 2-3 new case studies and testimonials for use in your marketing mix (print and electronic documents, Website, LinkedIn profile, etc.) If you would like an objective third party to help with this task, let us know.
4. Plan an event. . .
. . . But not for Q4. Unless it’s a holiday party, don’t make yourself crazier (and limit your attendance) by trying to squeeze in your event along with all the other events your contacts already have scheduled. However, you can start the legwork now by doing the following:
- Choose your target audience—Customers? Prospects? A specific niche market?
- Decide on a topic and a tentative date
- Talk with a few strategic referral partners to find one who is interested in hosting the event with you. In this way, you will cross-pollinate your pools of prospects and increase the reach of your promotional efforts.
- Choose your event type and scout out possible locations (if in-person):
- Lunch and Learn?
- After-hours event?
- Day-long seminar/workshop?
5. Add a New Component to Your Marketing Mix
Prospective clients ask me all the time “What is the one thing that is working for businesses marketing today?” I’m sorry to report that there truly is no “silver bullet” for B2B marketing; the key is to work in multiple channels at once, and find which 2-3 channels work best for you. Here are some suggested components you could add to your marketing mix this quarter to generate leads:
- Webinars – If you have been doing in-person presentations or writing about a particular topic (ex: cybercrime for IT services firms), consider putting together a Webinar to expand your reach (We can help!)
- Telemarketing – Call to follow up on direct mail letters or emails and, in Q1, to confirm attendance to your event
- Video – Add video to your Web site and LinkedIn, or send video emails
- Social Media – Find 3-5 LinkedIn Group discussions in which to participate each week; connect to 10 new followers on Twitter each day, etc.
- Blog – Add a blog to your Website to improve search engine results and raise your profile as an expert in your Public Relations—Not just for the “big” companies anymore, PR can be a great way for small businesses to get the word out about their unique services or products
If you need help getting started with any of these marketing ideas, give us a call or send us an email. We have a great referral network of partners that we would be proud to introduce to you.
Here’s to a successful Q4 and an even more prosperous 2017!