It’s the most wonderful time of the year. After a long summer, the kids are finally on their way back to school. Colleges open up in mid-August; elementary schools just after Labor Day. After a long and busy summer filled with family vacation, camp and holidays, Moms and Dads are ready to get back to the normalcy of everyday life. It seems that over the last couple of months they spent their time catering to the needs of “family fun” adventures and celebrations. Many of the true necessities of the family were put on hold, reasoning that there would be time in the fall to handle those tasks. The world now is getting back to work again. Are you ready? You are heading into one of the most important quarters of the year for your business. Did you take the summer off…?
Here are several tips on making sure that you are doing all you can to have a great Q4 as your customers and their kids head back to school:
Don’t Forget What You Learned Last Year
Most educators make sure that they give their students reading assignments and other projects to work on during the summer months. They worry that if they let their students totally relax their brains, much of what they have learned before the first days of summer will be forgotten and need to be retaught in September. As marketers, we know a lot about our customers’ behavior on a seasonal basis. Hopefully you have spent time over the summer nurturing your customers with a wide range of helpful messages, products and services that have kept your brand top of mind.
If you have neglected them, now is the time to ramp up your connection with your returning friends. If you want them to be loyal to you during the holiday season, September is a key month to recharge their batteries and passion for your offering.
Be Focused & Relevant
There is all sorts of chaos in the average family as kids return to school. Kids are in the process of adjusting back to a routine that is new vs. all the freedom they had in July and August. Parents really don’t have the time and/or patience to deal with irrelevant and unhelpful messaging from you.
Your company has been storing all of this persona-based transactional data on your customer for “years.” Now’s the time to be dynamic and personalized with your messaging. The more that you can leverage this data beyond “first name personalization” in assembling messaging that is targeted to the likes, dislikes and profile of your customer; the more they will delight in reconnecting with you and your company.
Fall Planning Starts Today
The summer is over and the market is back to work. It won’t be more than a couple of weeks before most families turn their focus south to the planning of holiday celebrations. Those who start planning in the “dog days” of summer will have a jump start against the competitive set in your market. Customers will be in purchasing mode for the holidays soon.
Leveraging the data you have about past purchases on an individual and segment basis is the foundation of your planning for holiday 2018 success. Have you established your goals for the fourth quarter? Have you taken a look at your KPIs from last year and made a determination on what the goal for this year is? Without that clear objective staring back at you, you might lose the passion and motivation to develop the tactics and plans that will have you crushing the holiday season. Time to convene the movers and shakers in your company and get the plan set with tactical development assigned.
Subscription Economy – Are You Present?
A funny thing happened during the summer of 2018; the subscription economy has become a primary distribution channel for families. Many are realizing that engaging with their favorite brands on a wide variety of goods and services actually helps them save time and money — two of the most important and compelling reasons for the real-time growth of this sector. Your customers will become evangelical about their loyalty to your company if you make the consumer’s life easier. If you haven’t developed a subscription/direct-to-consumer offering…now is the time to get back to work. You have brand awareness on your side. Now you need to deliver what your customers want.
A Commitment To Ongoing Learning
Never before has it been more important for marketers to be students of the real-time changes that are happening from a consumer media consumption pattern, purchasing channel expansion and your offering’s unique selling proposition. There are significant battles that are being waged in the market as everyone heads back to school and work. You need to establish a DNA within your company that is obsessed with monitoring your competitive set in a 360-degree view.
The more that you understand your competitors and keep up with the changes that they are making to win customers, the better insight you will gain in constructing your plans to win more battles in the months ahead.
Many of us will recall with great romance that feeling of returning back to school with new clothes, books, pencils, pens. We were always excited to be back with our friends. Everything felt fresh and new. We were charged up to tackle the challenges of learning in the year ahead. All of us need to regain that feeling again in the ways that we market to our customers and prospects. Let us start the new year with a fresh resolve and commitment to be the best version of our company that we can. We really want to do more than “keep up” with the kids. We want to be thinking ahead on the ways and means we can be of greater service to them each and every day. In doing so, our customers will greet us like the “old friends” that we desire to be.
Jim Fosina is a dedicated direct-to-consumer entrepreneur with extensive expertise in online and offline marketing, financial, technical and operational functions. He possesses robust business acumen along with P&L proficiency and marketing savvy while leading high performance teams and successful client relationships.Fosina is the Founder & CEO of two companies based in Danbury, CT. They are Fosina Marketing Group (founded in 2003) and Amora Coffee (founded in 2011).