“We should hold this off until fall — no one does this in the summer so let’s start planning at the end of August instead,” said nearly every marketing and product team, ever.
While it’s not the greatest time to launch a product or get a lot of PR, it’s definitely a great time to start planning ahead. That impending product launch? Yup, that needs a lot of planning put into it. That inbound tool your engineer has been working on? That will need a PR plan behind it to give it some leverage.
I personally love summer because it gives us marketers (and anyone, really) time to (a) reflect on progress and (b) decide what you need to accomplish in the next several months. It would be a failure on our part to let these months pass by idle.
While the appeal of sun tans, sandy beaches, bonfires and Coronas may be calling your name (and I don’t blame you!), you can still muster up the energy during the day to set yourself up for success this summer.
Here are the top five marketing-related projects you should be focused on the next few (hot and sticky) months:
1. Review Progress and Metrics
Progress reviews and metrics reports are a living breathing thing that should be done regularly anyways. However, the summer months provide you the perfect opportunity to really hone in on some particular metrics and gather actionable insights and ideas from them.
For example, you should be reviewing:
- How many users have you acquired? How does that stack up to your goals?
- How many users are considered “active users”? What can be done to get more active users?
- How have your blog posts been performing? Are they written around a few central themes related back to your company’s core messaging? Do they include strong CTAs? Are you converting as much from your blog as you had expected?
- What is your PPC conversion rate per channel? Are there some channels that are underperforming and should be cut? Are there channels that are doing outstanding and should be ramped up?
- Is your website bringing visitors on a desired path? Are there the right amount of strong CTAs?
You should also check out this fantastic SaaS KPI Metrics chart, put together by David Skok of Matrix Ventures to help you frame your metrics reports and understand what you should be measuring and reporting on.
2. Revise your editorial calendar
If you find that your blog posts are underperforming (in terms of traffic, conversions, etc.) or that more can be done to bring attention to them, it’s time to revisit your editorial calendar. I actually recommend that companies do this every 90 days or so, especially if things are changing fast with your company and product.
Evaluate the following during your editorial calendar revamp:
- Core Themes:
- Have you decided on 2-4 core themes that you want to be known for? If not, you should — ASAP. If so, have you related all your blog posts to those themes?
- Take a quick look through the last 10 or so blog posts on your blog. Are your headlines actually compelling? If not, check out these surefire headline formulas to help you structure your next headlines.
- Internal Blogging Program:
- Does your team have the capacity to blog more? If so, it’s the perfect time to start an internal blogging program with at least a few contributing team members. And if any of the contributors (and yourself) have some extra bandwidth to blog now, why not begin creating a backlog of blog posts so you can fire them away throughout the year?
You should also check out Janet Aronica’s eight recommendations for blog post topics that should be on your editorial calendar — it’s awesome, seriously.
3. Plan for Q3 & Q4 PR
While the summer certainly isn’t the perfect time to pitch to the media, you can instead start planning for PR-worthy stories.
- What product announcements are coming up that deserve attention and traction?
- What major hires are being made, or advisors brought on, that can be announced?
- Is a round of funding expected to close?
- Is a large customer going to close soon? Are they willing to team up with you on an official announcement?
- Are there any major partnerships in the works that the world would be interested in?
- Are you launching any tangential products, such as an inbound tool, that can be pitched as a story?
- Have a ton of data? Bring it together into a report or infographic and tell a story with it.
I could go on, but in essence, create news whenever you can.
The summer is also a good time to revise your media list, pitch message, byline topics, etc.
4. Find new sources for content and ideas
Have your sources for social media content gone stale? Are your followers bored with the topics you’re sharing? When you don’t have blog posts and announcements of your own to share out, it’s always a good idea to share out third party blog posts that relate to your company’s mission and beliefs.
To refresh your social media content sources:
- Subscribe to new blogs on Feedly (their search functionality is fairly good)
- Regularly check out posts on LinkedIn Pulse and from LinkedIn Influencers
- Refine your Google Alerts or Mention alerts
- Subscribe to new newsletters to get targeted content delivered right to your inbox
If you’re looking for content to read that will inspire your own blog posts, or if you want to learn more about your industry:
- Review what your competitors share
- Search around for keywords and phrases related to your product and industry to find new blogs and media outlets
- Ask colleagues and friends in the same (or similar) space what they read
I’m always looking for new content both to share out and learn from — both for my clients and for my own professional development, so I can’t emphasize enough how important this is.
5. Build an inbound tool (or two)
The summer could be just the perfect time to build something new, such as an inbound tool, and have it ready come fall.
A few popular ideas for tools are:
- Grader tools (such as Hubspot’s grader tools)
- Calculators (such as this Inbound Marketing Calculator)
- Cost Estimators (such as this App Cost Estimator from Kinvey)
They’re a great way to (a) instantly provide value to your target audience in a way they’ll appreciate, (b) collect new leads to later convert to your main product, and ( c) leverage for additional PR (as described above).
While you’re at it, get creative with your tool. Start by answering questions such as:
- What does your target audience want to solve immediately?
- What will really hook them and wow them — so much so that they’ll be interested in speaking with you about your main product too?
I could go on and on about what you could do in these hot, sticky summer months. In short, don’t want until the fall to cram your schedule with 12 hour days to get done what you should be doing today. If you’re not spending the time actively promoting new products, announcements, tools, or answering influxes of customer emails and tweets, then shift your focus to metrics and planning to set you and your team up for success. And you just might impress your boss with all that you find — especially if they take a nice long vacation, giving you added quiet time to focus :)
What other marketing activities do you find effective to do during the calm of summer? I’d love to hear it — please share in the comments below!