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Summer

Posted on July 31, 2004 and read 6,805 times

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“Summer is our downtime, we’re not interested. Thanks, get back to us in the fall.”

There is a theory suggesting that companies that invest in economic downturns actually outperform market leaders in upturns, surpass the likely victor, and become the ones to watch. And not only are they getting the attention of the marketplace, but of their competition too.

Downtimes, like the summer season within the design and communications community, are troubling. Many feel the cash-flow pressure of the slower months, and bleakly look ahead thinking that they better reserve spending, just in case. But history repeats itself. Inevitably, every fall, the creative agencies are all back on the “brandwagon”, competing for new clients and accounts, investing money in sales and marketing techniques to really stand apart from the rest of the community. Everyone knows that the fall is typically when clients are both preparing plans and budgets for the upcoming year, and when the year-end spending occurs. Most clients are desperate to spend their remaining budget in the fiscal year, because if they don’t, it won’t carry forward, and will result in less allocation the next year.

So, I ask you. Why does everyone wait until the fall? Why is everyone trying to generate noise while the entire band is playing at the same time?

Summer is a great time to target new clients, be introspective, make some noise, and prepare for the upcoming fall spend.

Target new clients

Do clients all actually go on vacation for the entire summer? No. But large organizations may experience downtime lag because key decision makers are absent or unreachable, or preoccupied. That is a reality. But here is another reality. Entrepreneurs don’t rest. Ever. How many Entrepreneurial organizations do you have on your client roster? Thought they would be too difficult to work with? Consider this. Entrepreneurial organizations are closely managed, make quicker decisions, and not being public, for the most part, focus and rely on long-term performance results, not just the next quarterly numbers. They are in it to win it. They are building their company, and they are spending discretionary income on sales and marketing tools.

Be introspective

Slow seasons, like summer, are a great opportunity to take time to look at your business relationships. Evaluation programs are a perfect solution. Third party resources are available to interview you and your clients (who aren’t doing much except vacationing anyway…) and measure their strength and commitment. With the slow time, you are then able to effectively action recommendations, now, before the busy time hits again.

Make some noise

Typically, agencies don’t advertise, they promote. Summer is a perfect time to negotiate excellent rates for trade publications, for newspapers, and for local rags across the community. Step outside the traditional local market; investigate where your clients are spending their time. Tactics like vinyl promotional stickers on SUV and car windows for the northbound cottage traffic, or advertisements at the Toronto Island Airport lounge are great ways to reach your executive clients. For the lowly Marketing Manager, how about a few hours at the spa, or an afternoon of golf as a reward for their hard work. Save your Christmas cards and gifts. Make an impact now!

Prepare for the upcoming fall spending frenzy

It’s true. Clients often spend in the fall in preparation for year-end. Retail clients spend for holiday promotions, corporate clients spend to guarantee budgets for the upcoming year. This summer, invest time understanding your client’s business objectives. Ask questions. Learn about their growth plans. Be better prepared for fall, and get your staffing levels and schedule right.

Having worked in the industry, and with the industry in roles ranging from account coordinator on the ground in a large agency, to marketing manager on the client side and in my current role as Chief Relationship Officer at a respected consulting firm for the past several years, I have witnessed and understand the fluctuations in the creative business.

You may believe that this is not the ideal time to invest in promoting or evaluating your business because you are slow. But I would challenge you and say that this is the right time. Use the time wisely and generate activity. Use this opportunity to motivate your team. Take a long look at your business relationships, and pause to reflect on those things that you might have done better, and can now take the time to improve.


Victoria Dawson
Chief Relationship Officer
Detour Inc.






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