5 tips for marketers to turn the summer slowdown into a productive period (without sacrificing your holiday plans)

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean that productivity has to drop off into the abyss. In fact, if you plan ahead, you and your team can be just as productive during summer as any other time during the year – while still getting a break.

No, really! Let’s assume that your buyers are not engaged in research, planning or purchasing during the summer months (depending on who your influencers and buyers are, and where they live, this can be a big assumption; tread wisely).

Campaign response rates are much lower, sales are less responsive to leads, and your days are much less interrupted by meetings. Carrying on with business as usual seems like a waste of effort, as you’ll only see diminishing returns.

Instead, make the summer slowdown work for you:

1. Dig into analysis & planning
If you’re less focused on building pipeline over summer, it’s a great opportunity to take a step back, analyse your programs and plan for the rest of the year.

If you’re in a largely static organisation or industry, things may not change much; but if you’re working in a startup or an industry that’s evolving quickly, summer is the perfect time to evaluate and assess marketing performance from the first half of the year.

Key questions to ask include:

  • How are is each program performing against the set goals? Were these goals realistic?
  • Are we measuring the right things?
  • What can I cut that’s underperforming? Where should we double down to maximise performance?
  • Where are the gaps we need to plug in the short term?
  • How have our needs changed? Where do we need to change our strategy and tactics to meet these needs?
  • How well are we balancing the need for solid foundations as well as campaign-focused activity?
  • Which longer-term projects should we invest in now, to ensure completion by the end of the year?
  • Where can we run some experiments to test new assumptions?

2. Dust off neglected projects
If you’re working in a fast-paced industry, chances are you’ll have had to make some tough choices that resulted in perfectly good projects being temporarily shelved due to conflicting priorities. Summer is a great time to dust these projects off, double-check that they’re still relevant, then execute.

While these projects could be almost anything, they tend to be those that help you develop a strong foundation or infrastructure, but are less glamorous, or are trickier to measure in terms of ROI. CRM data cleansing is one project that comes to mind – horribly dull, but vitally important when you’re reaching out to prospects and customers in a more targeted manner.

3. Carve out time for creativity
Real creativity needs a little time and space to flourish. And if you’re handling a million things in your day-to-day, it can be tough to carve out time to think laterally. Marketing isn’t purely about creativity, but it’s an important component of it. For example, a solid campaign with a creative twist is more likely to engage your audience.

Summer’s a great time to carve that time out. Take a day or series of days and dedicate them to more creative pursuits – brainstorming new solutions to existing problems; coming up with new concepts, themes or memes; or getting stuck into writing some content pieces that require a more creative slant.

Keep a list of the creative ideas you’ve come up with (even the slightly nutty ones) and refer back to them during the year as useful starters when you’re under time pressure.

4. Prep for busier times
In many B2B organisations in the northern hemisphere, there’s a huge push from September to early December. People are back from holidays, the regular business resumes, and there’s huge pressure to generate demand and influence sales to hit an end-of-year number.

Smart marketers treat the “quieter” summer months as an opportunity to prepare for this busy time. So for example while you may not focus your efforts on generating actual demand, you can focus on preparing the content and campaigns that will power your demand-gen efforts for the rest of the year.

Have a busy event season coming up? Prep & pre-pack your materials, and schedule your email campaigns and social media posts well in advance.

5. Get an extra pair of hands to help
Contrary to popular opinion, “everyone” doesn’t stop work during the summer slowdown. And if you’re engaging in some more focused projects like the ones I’ve outlined above, you may well want or need extra help to bring them in before “business as usual” starts up again.

Whether you need to backfill to cover staff who are taking holidays, or bring on external expertise to execute projects where you don’t have the skills, an extra pair of hands ensures that summer is a productive time for you and your team – without sacrificing time off.

And that extra pair of hands doesn’t have to mean someone inexperienced. With a growing pool of experienced marketing freelancers on the market, you now have better access to a deeper level of expertise even during the summer months.

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© Laura Lilienthal, 2017. All rights reserved.