Warmer temperatures, backyard barbecues, and long-awaited vacations all contribute to happier summer dispositions. However, the activities that make summer most enjoyable can also derail your marketing efforts. Strategies implemented in January have a tendency to trail off in July. Don’t be a victim of summer lethargy: use these marketing tips to energize a successful summer marketing season.
By Aaron Rothert, Practice Advisor
Take Time Off – and Post a Few Interesting (and Tasteful!) Photos on Social Media
When approached properly, vacations reduce stress – which could give you the mental room to think about your marketing efforts. Unfortunately, according to Harvard Business Review, the average vacation has the opposite effect. So, how can you maximize the positive effects of your vacation time?
Start with planning. Set a date for the vacation and block it out on your calendar. As vacation time approaches, meet with staff and plan for potential emergencies. Advise clients that you will be away. Provide them with contact information for a “designated hitter” if questions should arise in your absence.
Minimize stress by scheduling “Phantom Days,” which are days used to prepare for leaving and to recover once you return. During a phantom day, you will be in the office, but you will not meet with clients or take phone calls. The days scheduled for your return will allow you to enjoy the last few days of your vacation rather than dreading the avalanche of work that awaits you.
Use your vacation as an opportunity for social media marketing. Pick a couple of interesting – but tasteful – vacation photos to post to social media to maintain top-of-mind awareness with referral sources. Playing golf at St. Andrews would be a good image to post; sunbathing on a nude beach would not.
Take a Referral Source to a Game
The summer months are host to several spectator sports. If you have tickets to an event and you know a referral source would enjoy the event as well, invite him or her to join you. If you are not able to attend the event, send the tickets and a note. Remembering a referral source’s favorite sport or team goes a long way in building rapport. Games don’t have to be lavish: minor league teams can provide a great experience at a fraction of the cost.
Reclaim your interests by leveraging them for marketing. Golf, fishing, and tennis are all excellent opportunities for building one-on-one rapport. Think about that hobby or interest you miss, and use it as a marketing opportunity. You are more likely to make time for pursuits you enjoy than those you don’t, so choose an activity you genuinely like, assess your referral source’s interest, and invite him/her to join you.
To Maximize Your Summer Marketing, Host a Party for Your Referral Sources
1. Host a Client-Appreciation Party
Take time to thank clients for their business. This is especially important if your greatest source of referrals are past clients. Host an event at a local park, hotel ballroom, or your own office. No matter where you host the event, ensure that the preparation reflects your appreciation.
Increase summer attendance by holding kid-friendly events. Children are out of school, and parents will welcome any event that caters to their kids. Alternatively, participate in a city-planned summer festival. Attend the event as a firm and provide refreshment or entertainment vouchers to your clients.
2. Launch a Summer-Lunch Campaign
Summer can provide an opportunity to reconnect with referral sources who may have been neglected during busier times of the year. By launching a lunch campaign, you can take time to thank those referral sources you missed during your busy season.
Block time on your schedule two to three times a week for these lunches. Review your top referral sources and schedule lunch with them. If you have an assistant, ask him or her to fill the lunch blocks for you.
To deepen rapport with referral sources, there is no better way than inviting them and their spouses to your home to share a meal.
This does not have to be a Great Gatsby-style event. If you have a pool, gather around the pool for a barbeque or cocktails. If you have a great entertainment center, focus the gathering around a mutually enjoyed movie or sporting event. Do what you authentically enjoy. Authenticity goes a long way in building and maintaining rapport.
Have a Strategic Marketing Retreat
Firm-wide ambitions are rarely achieved without a marketing plan. Take time to gather the appropriate team members – away from the office, or with cell phones and computers turned off – to clarify and refocus your marketing efforts.
Prior to the retreat, assign marketing-related homework. This assignment could involve creating a list of top referral sources or compiling marketing statistics. Team members will have more to contribute to the retreat if they are already in a marketing frame of mind.
During the retreat, discuss what has worked and what hasn’t worked. Make adjustments or eliminate what’s not working and plan to do more of what is working. Set measurable marketing goals, embracing some experimentation with a heavy dose of what has worked in the past.
Update Your Referral Source List
Remember, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Take some time to create a list of your top referral sources. To accomplish this, look at intake sheets and open files to determine who referred the clients to you.
If you are already tracking referral sources, re-evaluate your list. Take special note of the number of clients a source sends, the type of clients, and the value of files. It is also important to track your last meeting date for each source. If you’ve been out of contact with several sources, perhaps it’s time to launch that summer-lunch campaign.
Plan Your Summer Marketing Campaigns in Advance
“In the business world, the rear-view mirror is always clearer than the windshield,” said Warren Buffett. With some planning, you can develop a clearer picture of summer marketing to come rather than looking at “what could have been” in the rear-view mirror.
Aaron Rothert, an Atticus Practice Advisor, is an attorney and a former instructor for the Internal Revenue Service. He facilitates the Atticus Rainmakers Programs, which train attorneys to be great marketers, and he blogs regularly on time management and marketing for attorneys. www.atticusonline.com
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