When you own a small business it must keep running even when you take a vacation break. Customers still want your goods or services, and reaching them through marketing remains an important part of good business strategy. Keeping the marketing rolling while you are gone is simple.
Marketing is planned well in advance. Because most vacations take place during a slow time, the marketing usually also slows down. Plan your marketing with your advertising reps at the newspaper or other media several months in advance so the lull in business and marketing are both accounted for. You do not want to cut off the marketing altogether since there are always customers looking to buy. Depending on your type of business will depend on what types of things you need to plan for. When advertising for a dental practice, for example, you may want to consider scheduling promotional mailings and automatic Facebook updates to keep your patients engaged and reminded about upcoming appointments, even while you are away.
Make Use of Social Media
Mentioned briefly earlier in this article, social media can be incredibly useful while you are away. Facebook allows you to plan posts weeks in advance. You can decide what you want to go on the Facebook page while you are away, making sure your page does not get neglected. In addition, you can use these posts to let people know of your specials and keep your business on people’s minds. If you have other social media accounts, you can use a program like Hootsuite to schedule your posts for those accounts as well. Just in case customers ask questions online, you will want to either put an employee in charge of monitoring the accounts while you are gone, or make sure you have access to the accounts so you can answer questions. Social media is one of the simplest ways to keep your business and customers interacting, even while you aren’t there.
Special Vacation Campaign
Create a special campaign to take advantage of your absence and the downturn in business. For example, run a “The Boss is away so we can offer these crazy deals” advertisement to give potential customers a reason to come in. Do a countdown to the number of days until you return to encourage people to come in “right now” instead of waiting.
You can use this time to move inventory you have had trouble moving. You could also use this time to offer new services at a discount price as long as you have the staff on hand to provide the service. Discounts are used as a way to get people into your business for one reason or another, so if you are offering a new service, it is the perfect opportunity to offer the service at a discounted rate.
One of the most important things to do before you leave is to designate someone within the business to act in your place while you are gone. You will want to make sure he or she is experienced with the business and knowledgeable about the business policies and procedures. Go over any marketing programs and plans and provide an “If…then…” decision tree for him or her to follow. A trusted and experienced employee can increase or decrease the budget within certain parameters, and add other media to the mix. Ensure that your media ad reps know whom to contact if there are questions or problems.
In addition to putting this employee in charge of the marketing efforts, you will want to put him or her in charge of making sure your business runs effectively. Make sure he or she understands the business policies and procedures and feels comfortable making decisions in your absence. You will also probably want to leave your phone number for use in the case of emergency.
Marketing is not a science with specific rules that guarantee certain results. It may take several years before you know the proper mix of marketing and vacation times to give you the best of both worlds.