I love Q4. Back in the ‘90’s, we typically spent Thanksgiving weekend preparing to hear what toys didn’t move well on Black Friday, so that we could get promotions in-store the following week for the under-performers. It was all hands on deck, on press, at the fulfillment house, and in the field. In many industries, 4th quarter is make-it-or-break-it time, but few are as heavily weighted as the toy business.
Q4 is sales-closing time for many other organizations, especially B2B’s. Organizations scramble to get last-minute deals on the books to hit quota, accelerators, Wall Street expectations, and other KPIs. For buyers, it’s use-it-or-lose-it budget time.
Away from the office, Q4 is the epitome of schedule disruption. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Eve anchor a huge volume of decorating, parties, gift exchanges, travel, and family gatherings. Toss in football tailgating, fall color drives, ice and snow storms, and school vacation days, and the reality of the mayhem becomes crystal clear.
On top of all that mayhem, it’s also time to finalize plans for the following year. Naturally some industries, like CPG’s are buttoned up far in advance, but most of the rest are still working out the details as the New Year rolls around.
Something always has to give. In our experience, it’s the planning. It’s hard to get your head around how you’d like to accomplish your goals next summer when you’re worried about one of your 4th quarter KPIs on your way out the door for Thanksgiving weekend. Instead, you drop in a placeholder for the period, or repurpose last-years program and suggest it get a refresh.
Close existing opportunities in Q4. Plan to open new ones in Q1.
You’ve got one quarter left. Now’s the time to layer in an incentive to close those dangling opportunities. If everything you’ve done so far isn’t getting you to the finish line, it’s time to consider a new approach. We’ve got 28 years of proof that incentives (like targeted sweepstakes or premiums) can break through the clutter and get more people to the next step in the customer journey. With the clock ticking, there’s no better time than to give it a shot. It will only move you closer to your goal.
While you’re at it, find a way to give a little energy to next year. Spend a few hours reflecting on what’s working a little, and figure out how to level it up next year. Sketch out that plan now, so you’re ready to make it happen in 2018.
Grab a copy of our Seasonal Mindset Calendar
Whether you’re working on last minute connections in 2017, or planning for greatness in 2018, you may find this download helpful. We’ve used it with basically every campaign we’ve created over the last 25 years.
We use this simple one-sheet every time we develop a new campaign. It’s just a reminder that our customers have entire lives to lead when they’re not engaging with our product or service. Our experience is that when you are mindful of the calendar, and/or integrate the mindset into your campaigns, it makes your message resonate more completely with the prospect/customer. You can download it for free here.
Who’s got the time?
If you just don’t have the bandwidth to take on another project in 2017, or feel too deep into the weeds to step back and see the opportunities for 2018, consider reaching out. We would be happy to chat and assess your situation and identify some ways to close business this year and open new doors next year.