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5 good projects for your holiday-season lull

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new year_ambro_freedigitalphotosFor many of us, business is going to slow down at some point in the next few weeks of the holiday season. A lot of people will use it to clean their desks, or maybe even take some time off.

It’s also a good time to set up your marketing efforts for more impact in the New Year.

Here are 5 projects that are perfect to undertake during the holiday slow-down – whenever it begins for your business. If you pick just one or two, it will make you a more effective marketer next year.

1. Update your website

Every website needs attention now and then – both from a perspective of content and technology. Content: Over time, the language you use to describe your business has probably changed. Visit every page on your site and update the language as needed. Technology: Website platforms and content management systems (e.g. WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.) get updated regularly, as do the many applications, plugins and accessories that may be built into your site. These should all be updated at least once a year. If you get too far behind in updates, your website’s speed, functionality and stability can suffer.

Always back up your database before starting. And if you’re not very comfortable doing this work, ask your website developer/technician how much it would cost to do this work; it shouldn’t be more than a a few hundred dollars. If you do it yourself, at least alert him/her to be ready in case your site crashes.

2. Clean up your social media pages/profiles

LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and all the others are constantly updating functionality and your business is constantly evolving. As with your website, year-end is a good time to go through each of your social media channels to make sure they contain only your current information and that you’re utilizing all of the new gizmos that offer value to your business.

3. Power-up your e-mail list

Is your e-mail list on a service like Constant Contact or MailChimp? If so, you can go through the list and segment it by major customer categories for more targeted messages in the year ahead.

If you don’t use such a service, consider using this time to start; they’re easy to use and generally free (unless you have a really large list). Maintaining your own e-mail list is a hassle and comes with risk – the biggest of which is that you can be branded a serial spammer and blocked from delivering any message to major e-mail domains like aol.com and sbcglobal.net. The e-mail services are designed specifically to assure you comply with anti-spam regulations, but they also offer powerful tools and analysis to boost the impact of your communications.

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MarketFarm email sign-up

Don’t have a list? For many small businesses, this is their most valuable marketing asset. Use this time to get one started by signing up with one of the e-mail services. Then, put a registration button on your website, Facebook page, etc., put a QR code in your place of business and printed materials, and offer incentives for customers to sign up.

How important is an e-mail list? One local retailer just sent a direct-mail promotion offering a $20 gift card just for signing up.

4. Freshen your e-mail newsletter

If you send out regular communications to your e-mail list, consider whether your template should be refreshed. Sometimes, an old degraded template is deterrent enough to keep you from sending business-building messages.

Does yours force you to fill more pigeonholes than you have content for? Does it look dated? If your practice is to paste new content into copies of older newsletters, a lot of the original design elements – font size, spacing, separators, etc. – have probably been corrupted over time.

5. Add a new social media outlet to your capacity

Are you using Facebook and Twitter effectively? Add another.  If your products or services are highly visual, you may lean toward Pinterest. If you sell to businesses, LinkedIn is probably best bet – though it can be extremely frustrating to use. Consider Instagram, Vine, Tumblr and Stumbleupon. Google+ is too big to ignore, though most people I know struggle to figure out what it’s good for.

Whatever project(s) you choose to improve next year’s marketing, I hope you have a safe and happy holiday season.

Image courtesy of Ambro/Freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

 

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About the Author:

Bob Rosenbaum is founder and principal of The MarketFarm, a content-oriented strategic communications firm.

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