This is the time of year, when the weather starts to warm up and the leaves come back on the trees, that I start hearing a familiar question. “Should we down tools in the summer,” clients and prospects alike ask. “Everyone will be on holiday then – no one will be receptive to my story. What’s the point of a communications campaign then?”
It’s a great question, and one I’ve had to answer many times over the years. What I’ve come to realize is that while smart people don’t go completely idle in the summer, they do change their focus.
Summer is a great time to evaluate, plan and build relationships.
We are often so busy doing the doing, responding to the needs of the business, sending out direct mails, sponsoring another event, launching a thought leadership campaign. This is the time to ask some honest questions:
Is my marketing and communications strategy aligned with the overall goals and objectives of the business?
Are we delivering on what we set out to achieve at the beginning of the year?
Can I really measure the performance of the campaign?
What was the business value?
What is the data telling me?
Let’s look at a few areas of marketing and how you can use your time in the summer.
Your website is your virtual front door and it should be able to quickly and clearly articulate who you are and communicate the value of your offering. Are you capturing data and behaviour information that supports both your short and long term ambitions?
Are you sure that the right visitors are coming to your website? How long are they staying? Where are they coming from?
If the answer is no then summer is the time to conduct a full website and SEO audit to figure out whether your website is fit for purpose. We work our clients to ensure that website KPIs and goals fit within the wider marketing objectives and what the company is trying to achieve.
Are your customers getting a seamless experience across your website and social channels, in your customer experience – are they comfortable with your brand?
What is the best performing piece of content on your social and digital channels – do you know? What is your approach to content? Do you write a blog, put it on your website and hope for the best? Does all of this sit with my overall marketing and content strategy? What do people do when they read the content – what action do they take?
Is the quality of your content meeting the needs of your audience? A well-designed and interactive thought leadership paper might look good from the outside but is your target audience engaging with it? Are you tracking it? The best pieces of content are evergreen – they remain relevant and stand the test of time.
If this isn’t the case – go back to the drawing board. Your content strategy needs to start with your audiences’ needs and interests, once this defined, evaluating what types of content they engage with is important – short form, videos, white papers.
Undertake a content audit – we often see that companies talking about what they do, not in fact the business benefit and the value to the customer. An effective content strategy defines the purpose of the brand’s content and sets the stage for not only a successful content marketing campaign, but the entire audience experience.
If you have experimented or tried new pieces of content – now is the time to do it!
Competitors – campaigns – when was the last time that you reviewed your have you reviewed your competitors’ website, content? This is essential to find your edge, identify the white space
The media landscape is a movable feast.
Every week new journalists, publications and beats arise. One recent example is Sifted, a new media site backed by Financial Times for European entrepreneurs.
Use the quietness of the summer to build relationships with these new contacts. Suggest a coffee or even a glass or rosé in the sun. Understand what these reporters are looking to do in the coming months and weeks.
On the company side of things, review the penetration of your messages in the media. Are our messages actually getting through in the media? We often see a mismatch of the values and tone of voice in a company website and how their messages are interpreted in the media. You may want to think about how you/your spokespeople are delivering these messages in the media and consider a media training refresher. Review your bench – and find new spokespeople to prepare.
What is the role of your social media channels? How many handles have? Do you measure campaign success by the number of followers? Is social media giving a customer centric brand experience? This is a good opportunity to look at basic social media hygiene – are the right people following you? What is the data telling you? How many people are real followers vs fake followers – are they the right people?
Have you identified the role of social media?
Define your channel strategy to the strength of your channel, objectives are followers – followers is not going to meet your biz objectives. LinkedIn for example is designed for a professional audience, you need to engage with them in the right way. Twitter for example audience is more in a discovery mindset and are focus on events – summer is a good time to plan what how you can develop a social media strategy that reaches and engages with your audiences.
We know from our experience working with clients that employ.
Be open minded, a good listener and strategic. Look at data and information objectively – what picture is it painting. Don’t overlook what the data is telling you.
In the summer there’s the luxury of time. Use that time to think and plan for what’s ahead. That way the cold winds of autumn will not catch your marketing department unprepared.
Yvonne is the deputy managing director of the Cognito London office