It’s a long time since I was at school, and with no children in formal education, you would think that the academic year has little relevance to me. It would be great if that were true, but in reality, most things are governed by the school calendar, and marketing is no different. Let me explain.
The Marketing Year – in the real world
The year starts on 1st January, and you have a good period of around 13 weeks up to Easter, at which points, schools break up, and people go on holiday. Easter is increasingly a 2 week period when businesses move into tickover as people take holidays and this continues into May with 2 Bank Holidays – so 2 more short weeks where people take time off, resources are stretched and focus is lost. From the end of May there is a clear run of around 7- 8 weeks to mid-July when school holidays start and things wind down for the Summer. As the longest ‘down-time’, July/August is when keeping marketing ticking over can be most challenging. It is oh-so easy to just say…
'Let's leave it until September'
The problem is then that you find September disappears as you try to build momentum for the run to Christmas. If you can ‘hit the ground running’ at the beginning of September there is then a good period of maybe 15 weeks until mid December when everything starts to shut down for Christmas – and another 2 weeks of downtime. In other words, the business yea reflects the academic year. A total of 35-36 weeks in 3 blocks where you can put real focus on marketing.
B2B Marketing Primetime
In reality there are three periods when we can really focus on Marketing:
- New Year – Easter
- End of May – Mid-July
- September – Christmas
Looking at things this way poses some threats, but also delivers opportunities:
First the threats:
- Marketing inertia: We know that one of the main issues with marketing is sustainability, and keeping things going. Having periods of the year (See this post: The danger of Summer) where there is an excuse to take your foot of the gas creates a risk that things will not be picked up again as marketing-inertia takes over.
- Frustration: Failure to address marketing-inertia can lead to frustration in trying to get things done.
Now the opportunities
- A structure for planning – Recognise the rhythm of the marketing year. It creates a great structure for planning.
- Seasonal opportunities – There are certain seasons (See this post on Christmas card Alternatives) that deliver unique marketing potential. These will differ depending on your own business and markets, but identifying and embracing them can deliver ideas & inspiration for you.
- Don’t be afraid of repeating yourself – Everybody does it. Every August BBC News lines up pupils to open their results on air and debate the health and relevance of the exam system! Whilst you always need a timely angle, seasonal marketing delivers some easy wins that can take the pressure off, and keep things moving.
Embrace the Marketing Year
We have always said the key to sustainable marketing is having a plan. Embracing the Marketing Year can be a real boon to planning, and give structure to your activities. January is less than two months away, so maybe now is a good time to start work on your Marketing Year.