Your 2014 Marketing CalendarFellow business owners, have you also been getting these drip emails from Manta pestering you about the impending holiday season?  All the retail stores have started to decorate their storefronts with Black Friday signs and Christmas decorations. I know it seems crazy, and my initial reaction to these emails was, well, let’s just say it was cynical. However, we’re also guilty as charged (not to the same degree) as Christmas starts months in advance here at Sauté. Realistically, if you’re a small-to-medium sized business owner trying to juggle too many hats, it’s perfectly usual that things get pushed off until suddenly you needed them yesterday. So I started scouting around to see who else has good advice for seasonal marketing and found a variety of useful info out there, including these from Inc. Magazine, Fast Company, Social Media Today, Social Times and Silverpop article.)

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Being a Brit, I tend to find the whole “holiday” thing here in America a bit overwhelming. Knowing which ones you have to do with friends, and with which family; what to be grateful for; what food is traditionally on the menu – it’s all slightly different over the pond. And, as I found when I first got here and was staying with my parents-in-law, there is a kind of ‘if you’re not with us, you’re against us’ mentality about celebrating. Get on board.

So, while in the UK it might be considered cheesy to contact your clients with holiday messages, in the US it’s almost rude not to. You’re just being thoughtful and including them in your goodwill for the rest of mankind. And let’s face it, holidays are not just about eating and shopping for gifts. They are rituals that serve to remind us of the things that are important to us as a community. Sometimes we enter a collective psychological space, like all resolving to be better in the New Year. So these are the perfect times to leverage particular values or present a particular opportunity.
Personalize It
As a service provider for example, you might offer gift cards or special offers for events such as Valentines Day or Mother’s Day. Why not also consider including the first anniversary of when your client first joined you as a special milestone – Zappos gives free overnight shipping to their VIP clientele; what could you offer someone who has been with you for long enough to deserve a little special treatment? At Sauté, we specialize in looking at the world from your customers’ perspective, finding out what they need and helping you deliver.
Automate It
With marketing trending away from a quantitative blanket approach and towards the qualitative experience, focusing on calendar holidays or events represent a specific opportunity to market to your clientele, giving you a smaller but more exact window to capitalize on specific days of the year. CRM options like PrintSalesforce and Ontraport offer print extensions, so that holidays, birthdays and anniversaries, not only don’t go overlooked, but are preloaded with relevant information for the cards and gifts that can be automatically booked with a printer and mailed directly to your customers, giving a ‘personalized’ touch – “Oh look! They remembered my birthday” or “Oh really? I’ve been with them a year already?” If you need help wading through your options, hop on a meeting with us and we’ll take a look at your system and recommend solutions.
Plan It
OK, so no need to panic if you’re only just now thinking about your marketing for this holiday season. Take these tips gratefully and run like the wind with them. But, my guess is, if you’re scouting around for holiday marketing tips just now, it’s fair to say that you are not planning ahead. However, it’s still not too late!

Your 2014 Marketing Calendar

The truth is, all of these steps belong in a proper marketing calendar. Rather than constantly reacting to isolated instances, every business needs a clear, defined marketing strategy in place, with a specific implementation plan. To feel confident that your marketing is working, to attract new customers, and get a high proportion of repeat business and referrals, your plan must incorporate analytics that help you fully understand what motivates people to choose you and recommend you to their friends. I know, I know, I’m lecturing. But what we consistently see at Sauté is that the key to marketing is not the sudden flamboyant gestures that the holidays bring out in all of us, but consistent, well-executed planning.

To help you get started on thinking about the next twelve months, we’ve created a 2014 Marketing Calendar with 12 essential marketing tips and action items you can execute. Don’t worry, you won’t get bombarded with them all at once, we’ve broken them up one-per-month. So, what are you waiting for? Download and get a head start on 2014! It’s never too early to start working towards your goals.

P.S. We’d never leave you out there hanging, so check back here regularly for a free tool each month to help you achieve each goal/tip!

The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed. —William Gibson