While festive celebrations dominate our days as 2016 draws to a close, the new year will be here before we know it. Now’s the time to map out a communications strategy that will keep your audience engaged the whole year through!
But as you tackle your communications calendar, don’t fall into this all-too-common trap…
Valleys of Silence
We see a lot of organizations and companies that make the same fatal mistake. They’re so concerned about losing the subscribers they’ve worked so hard to get, they actually UNDER-communicate!
Here’s how it happens.
Most organizations find they spend a lot of time asking their subscribers to take action (ahem, that is, give them money) leading up to pinnacle dates through out the year, whether it’s an event, the final day of a membership drive, the conclusion of a fundraising campaign or the end of a big sale. We call this conversion marketing, and it’s a necessary part of your overall strategy if you’re going to stay afloat.
That’s why, if you look closely, you’ll likely find that your marketing calendar is full of peaks and valleys. And that’s totally normal. There should be active selling time as well as down time.
The danger is when down time becomes dead time.
Once that event’s over or that drive has ended, organizations tend to go on radio silence. Why? People tell us all the time — they’re afraid their readers will unsubscribe if they get too many emails.
But the problem isn’t over-communicating.
In an interview with Anne Samilov on Amy Porterfield’s Online Marketing Made Easy podcast, Anne describes your relationship with your subscribers like a bank — if you keep making withdrawals without making any deposits, you’ll eventually hit zero.
The Solution: Relationship Building
Your subscribers joined your list because they want to hear from you. And people buy from people they know and like.
But when you market only to sell, you miss a critical opportunity to support, educate and bond with your community.
Instead, focus on balancing your conversion marketing with “relationship marketing,” which (you guessed it!) focuses on building a relationship with your subscribers.
You can do this by using your valleys to schedule content that’s fun, interesting, educational and personal — just because.
The key is to keep the heartbeat pulsing, even while at rest.
Here’s your step-by-step:
- Map out your peaks.
These are the key dates you need to lead up to every season — the events, the campaigns, the drives, the seasonal sales.
- Chart your inclines.
These are the communications you ramp up leading toward your peak. When you’re done, there should be some valleys when you’re not really sending much about those big annual goals. If there aren’t any valleys, go back and adjust your ramps to create the valleys.
- Fill in the valleys with relationship content.
Your valleys are the place for your relationship content. Think about what you can share that would delight and amaze your community and keep them glad they’re involved.
Ideas for filling in the valleys
At a loss for ideas to fill in the valleys? Here are six of our favorites:
- Offer general gratitude.
A thank you for buying a ticket, making a donation or completing a purchase DOESN’T COUNT — you should already be sending personal thank you’s for that anyway! In addition, say thank you at Thanksgiving. We love you on Valentine’s Day. Send a random expression of gratitude. And whenever you can, work a thank you into the ideas below.
- Demonstrate impact.
Tell about the child who’s beating her disease because of your subscribers’ support. Invite a customer to talk about how he sees more beauty after taking one of your art classes. Describe the economic improvements in the village you source your product from.
- Share progress stories.
Are you constructing a new building? Working to solve an issue? Trying to eradicate a disease? Share updates on the progress you’re making toward your goal.
- Educate your readers.
Whether you organize conferences, sell a product or work toward the common good, you have first-hand, inside knowledge about some subject or issue. Share some of it! Organize yoga retreats? Describe your latest go-to pose and its benefits (with pictures of course!). Offer catering services? Give tips on pairing wines and cheeses for a great party.
- Engage your readers in advocacy.
Are you an issue-oriented organization? Let people know when they can take action on something that matters to them or when important legislation is on the table.
- Reveal your process.
Do you run a successful school? Explain one of your teachers’ effective teaching methods or walk through a typical day. Make exceptional chocolate? Tell your readers how (without revealing your recipe!). Produce stellar shows? Take people behind the scenes of a rehearsal or explain the way you go about selecting your next production.
Time to go get planning! And, as always, let us know if you want help getting this project off your plate!