End 2023 Strong to Start 2024 Strong
We know. The end-of-the-year sales are already starting, store windows are displaying Christmas trees, and the Hallmark Channel is surely playing back-to-back holiday movies. The end of the year is full of chaos, and your business often finds itself on the back burner.
The last three months of the year are unbelievably important for any brand or agency. This is when most people are out doing a large portion of their spending for the year, huge campaigns are coming to life, months and months of strategy building and preparation are coming to fruition, and everyone is trying to stand out in a crowded room.
Agencies are working overtime, trying to manage the last remains of their client funds, and doing everything they need to do to ensure their business continues to move forward and evolve in the following year. It’s not just about ending the year with a bang, but also making sure they start the new one right.
Here’s the thing: If you end the year in a marketing lull it means starting the new year in a marketing lull.
We don’t want this to happen to you, so here are ways you can amplify your marketing plan in Q4 to help you close the year out strong and to prepare you for a more profitable 2024.
It is no surprise to anyone anymore that shoppers and marketers start thinking about the holiday season as early as the spring season. To get ahead of the game, it is important to craft your marketing plans as early as possible to avoid getting lost in the crowd. Major players like Amazon introduce unique shopping events, like Prime Day, to attract customers without the typical Black Friday or holiday competition.
Start social and email campaigns, influencer outreach, and managing Q4 budgets early. The worst case scenario is heading into Q4 with a minimal budget for marketing materials because it was put on the backburner. Q4 can alter cash flow, creating potential hurdles. Revisit last year’s Q4 financials for insights.
Did costs rise from extended hours, inventory, or bonuses? Some firms accumulate dues but receive payments in Q1. Anticipate cash flow challenges and strategize. With Q4’s whirlwind, draft Q1 plans early, ensuring a hassle-free experience for all.
B2C Q4 Marketing Opportunities
Q4 is a golden period for B2C marketing. Not only can you leverage the mass amount of holiday sales, decor, and new releases for social channels and paid activations, but you also get to prioritize loyalty programs, influencer collaborations, and incentive-based messaging to increase follower counts and get more sales and customers. Curating holiday-specific social calendars, dedicating a larger boosting and paid budget, and making sure you spotlight sales, deals, and new arrivals is the perfect social strategy during the holiday season.
COHN has been able to ideate creative and engaging influencer collaborations for Q4 for years, and, besides it being a stressful time, is a fun brainstorming process where we have really gotten to spread our wings. Collaborating with influencers for curated guides, social content creation, social listening, and gearing the content towards a targetted audience has been key to successful shopper campaigns at our agency.
B2B Q4 Marketing Strategies
For B2B brands, Q4 allows many businesses to take advantage of unused end-of-year budgets, allowing them to pitch their products and services at an optimal time. It’s essential for B2B brands to demonstrate their value as indispensable solutions during this hectic marketing period. Q4 is great for not only product pitching but also maximizing client relationships through personal gestures like holiday cards or thoughtful corporate gifts.
Additionally, Q4 is prime time for industry events, networking opportunities, lead generation, and solidifying brand presence. Brands can also gain a competitive edge by showcasing their insights on industry trends or offering predictions through webinars and articles, to showcase their thought leaders abilities.
The end of the year is also perfect for gaining feedback from clients that you have been working with throughout the year. This feedback can help with the following year’s strategy, messaging, business model, and marketing budget allocations. Internally, reviewing the year’s operations can show where your business might need improvements and can give your business a head start on promotions for the following year. Overall, Q4 for B2B means more than just sales, it’s about setting the stage for future success.
Planning Your Q4 Marketing Strategy
1. Analyze your previous marketing tactics
Step one in creating a successful Q4 is to review the previous three quarters and look at the wins, challenges, and opportunities that presented themselves. What has worked in your marketing plan? What hasn’t? Ramp up on the verticals that are performing well or cut back on those that aren’t.
As you get into the nitty gritty of your marketing efforts, you might find that these investments haven’t been paying off. Not all strategies end up delivering value, so you might want to consider rethinking your marketing strategy for 2024.
2. Identify Your Marketing Goals
The next step in amplifying your Q4 marketing plan is to identify your marketing goals for the end of the quarter. Be specific. Every marketing department aims to “boost revenue” and “increase sales,” for example, and these goals don’t give you much direction.
How will you boost revenue? What strategies, specifically, will you use to increase sales?
Here is a short list of possible goals to get you inspired:
- Increase organic website traffic by 15% with content marketing
- Improve social media Click-Throughs by 10% with a dedicated Instagram strategy
- Expand your email list by 10%
We suggest you start out with a list of 3-5 goals and create actionable steps to reach them. If you want a 10% increase in website traffic, you need to think about ways you’re going to get there. In Q4, you could increase your paid advertising budget, write additional blog content, post on social media, send out an email campaign, etc.
3. Factor in industry trends and seasonal patterns when setting objectives in Q4
Q4 encompasses major holidays, driving consumer spending. However, it’s essential to align with current trends to ensure relevance. For instance, if eco-friendly products are trending, firms should pivot their strategies to highlight such products.
Different industries also have distinct seasonal patterns. While toy companies might see a surge in Q4 sales, swimsuit brands could experience a decline. Recognizing these patterns allows marketing firms to set appropriate objectives and tailor strategies effectively. In essence, understanding trends and seasons ensures marketing efforts are timely and resonate with consumers
4. Choose Your Marketing Channels & Tactics
After setting goals and recognizing industry trends, it’s time to put pen to paper and select the marketing channels and tactics you will use to accomplish your goals. At the moment, COHN clients from across our verticals are ramping up in a handful of key areas, such as:
Social media marketing
It’s important to have a social strategy to back up why you’re posting what you’re posting. Not only that, but keeping up with trends and algorithms and updates can all play a role in whether your social media efforts are successful in Q4. Incorporating influencer marketing can also boost your reach and credibility, as influencers can introduce your brand to their followers, potentially increasing engagement and conversions in Q4.
Email is still the number one marketing tactic out there. It has the opportunity to deliver the highest possible ROI for clients. Sequences, newsletters, and opt-ins can all make an impact on your Q4 and beyond goals.
Paid (digital) media
If it’s in the budget, paid media remains one of the most powerful (and quickest) ways to raise awareness and reach your audience quickly. Paid media works even better when you combine it with earned and owned.
Owned media—like content marketing and social media—empowers your brand to tell its own story, through your website, social media, blogs, white papers, webinars, mobile apps, infographics, and more. Content marketing strategies are used to connect directly with your customers and prospects, getting granular with messaging to engage at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO is a key element of any marketing strategy. It ensures a brand’s online content is easily discoverable by search engines, leading to higher organic rankings. This will help increase website traffic, conversions, and overall engagement with your brand.
In an era where consumers often start their purchasing journey with a search query, optimizing for those searches is crucial. Without a solid SEO approach, brands risk being left in the shadows by competitors.
5 . Develop Your Marketing Budget for the New Year
A cohesive marketing budget plan is a must when it comes to accomplishing your marketing goals for the new year. With all the information you planned, how does it fit into your Q4 budget and what budget are you going to present for 2024.
Developing a marketing budget plan will also help you:
- Allocate funds for projects months in advance
- Prove the value of your marketing projects to company executives
- Justify why specific projects are worth investing in
- Invest in the right projects
Pro tip: If you have an allocation left over for Q4 and you don’t know how to spend your marketing budget, you might consider using it to get started at an agency, and we’ll use it towards your Q1 budget.
6 . Invest in An Agency Now, For the Future
At the end of the day, COHN believes that business success begins at brand strategy. If your brand is lacking and unclear, it makes the other pieces of your marketing strategy harder to come together. If you’re not seeing your marketing goals come together then consider what a rebrand might do for you.
Manageable Magical Moments Campaign for Regency Centers
Earlier in the blog we mentioned COHN’s work with influencers for Q4 holiday campaigns. Let us tell you about our 2022 influencer initiative for our major shopping center client.
The year 2022 finally took a step away from reimagining what holiday gatherings looked like for consumers after the pandemic. Regency Centers asked us to ideate ways to connect with modern consumers who continue to adopt new traditions, embrace hybrid experiences, and consciously seek out brands that align with more than just their price point.
We were operating in a value-based system of consumption while also facing the challenge of an insecure economy. Navigating that paradigm was key to developing a holiday campaign that was memorable, meaningful, and showcased the magic of the merchants at the different shopping centers.
The state of holiday marketing forced us to look beyond the pandemic and toward consumers facing an uncertain era of inflationary pressure with many households choosing to shop early and check off the holiday lists well before the winter season began. This ‘Christmas in July’ mindset was nothing new, however, we predicted holiday shoppers wouldn’t be shy about seeking physical experiences and tapping into fun, immersive, and unexpected experiences.
The national campaign we developed included a landing page and 9 micro-influencer collaborations. Each influencer was in charge of creating a shopping “how-to guide” for the shopping center in their area. The COHN team created 9 different categories that the influencers had to cater to and we gave them the reigns from there.
Granting influencers creative freedom is a great way to make sure the content they create is the best fit for their audience, which they know best. The landing page housed the guides for easy access for shoppers and each influencer created multiple pieces of social content walking their audiences through the process of buying items in their guide from across multiple stores at the shopping centers.
We began this campaign process in July, showing just how early these campaigns have to begin to get all the content done before the holiday season truly begins. Overall, the marketing campaign was a success for both the shopping centers and influencers. The influencers were able to bring their personal touch to the guide and content, and the shopping centers were able to provide easy steps to 9 successful holiday celebration ideas to cater to the different ways people wanted to celebrate that year.
As we move through Q4 and look ahead to 2024, what are your goals and accomplishments telling you? Your business doesn’t have to go into the rest of the year feeling lackluster. Incorporate an agency into your marketing budget and start getting the results you want.
COHN is a strategic and creative brand-marketing agency focused on solving challenges in commercial real estate, healthcare, B2B and consumer marketing. We aren’t scared of the complex, and we are passionate about detangling complicated situations and weaving them into strategies and stories that convert.
At COHN, we can take your end-of-the-year overwhelm and turn it into a well-orchestrated plan of attack that brings in new clients and keeps your loyal clients coming back for more. Every strategy we execute is backed by data, built by our marketing team of experts, and carefully implemented through some pretty amazing branding, creative design, and content.
Contact our team today to kick-start your Q4 marketing efforts to begin 2024 on the right note.