Business Tip: Prepare for the Holidays in Summer

You’re probably familiar with the phrase “Christmas in July”, a phrase used loosely to describe summer indulgences. It holds an actual function for countries in the Southern hemisphere, whose seasons are reversed. And though we find ourselves on the top half of the planet, we are thinking about the holidays even in the 90+ degree heat. A business tip we always follow: prepare for the holidays in the summer.

Business tip: A little planning now makes you smarter in December.

At Red Letter Marketing, we start holding meetings and discussing our holiday plans six months ahead of time, and we recommend you do the same. Ideally, it gets you ahead of the game—no competing for holiday resources, no employees out who are necessary to complete projects, no last minute dashes for this or that. It also simply keeps you on track, so your entire team can be less stressed out.

Starting early leaves more time for creativity.

Our recommendation comes out of experience. In the early days of our company, we scrambled. That’s not to say things don’t still get hectic, but it helps greatly when you know in what direction to panic. Brainstorming for ideas in July means they’ll be solidified by summer’s end. Then you’ve got fall for execution, when nearly all employees are in the office. Since holiday projects come secondary to actual client work, it’s good to have these projects in queue for when employees have downtime, or simply need to work on something different for a bit. You’ll be surprised how much cooking gets done on the back-burner.

It doesn’t matter what your line of work may be. Marketing or otherwise, you’re likely responsible to clients, partners, friends, or supporters of some kind. Show them your organizational prowess. Plan ahead.

Oh, and Merry Christmas.

This business tip is brought to you by Red Letter Marketing. 

Do we ever say no to clients? Yes. Here’s why.

Is the client always right? Well…no. Here’s how to spot when a client is going against their own best interests, and how to say no (politely). 

How to say no to a client? And when is it appropriate to do so? Sometimes, it isn’t appropriate. For instance, consider this scenario.

Client: Shouldn’t the email blast have our logo in it somewhere?

Designer: Your logo is in it. Down there in the corner. Get closer to the screen.

Client: I guess I see it. Could we maybe . . . embiggen it a smidgen?

Designer: No. Next question.

Maybe it’s never happened exactly like that but, most of us in marketing have witnessed exchanges along those lines. The designer in that scenario has taken her advisor role to its extreme, where advice has transmogrified into unyielding command.

We don’t do that here. (If you don’t believe me, here’s what you should do: Become our client. Then you’ll see. I stand ready to receive your call at 336-676-6822.) Sometimes it’s important to learn how to say no.

We don’t like to take the money and run.

But we do say “no” sometimes. And when I tell you about a recent example, your first reaction might be something like “What kind of naïve imbecile would do that?”

There are times when I am a naïve imbecile, but this was not one of those times. What happened was, a client called and said “I’ve got some money here, and I’d like to give it to you folks. Please take it and use it to redesign our sales kit.”

So yeah, here’s the part where you go “Did you really say no to that?” And then your next question is “Can I have the phone number of that client please?” (Now I’m saying “No” to you.)

Of course there is more to the story. I didn’t just decline the funds and wish my client a good day. I reviewed her sales kit and agreed that it could stand some grooming. However, I knew that the basket of money she was waving in my face was all she had in her marketing budget for the rest of the fiscal year. Some serious prioritization was in order.

Good clients appreciate honesty.

Now, this client wasn’t asking me for financial advice. She wanted design advice. So I was indeed risking a scenario in which she picked up her basket of money and stormed out.

It was a risk worth taking. In our experience, good clients welcome all kinds of advice, even when it is counter to their original request. In a job long ago, in a galaxy far away, I had a client who had built an astonishingly successful logistics company. He was a really smart guy—smart enough to welcome challenges. I once attended a meeting in his company’s stately conference room; also in attendance was my trusted account director, Mamie. At a certain point in the meeting, the client held up an ad he had torn out of a magazine. It featured a scantily clad model draped over an outboard engine. My client asked “Why aren’t we doing stuff like this?”

The room got very quiet.

I blurted, “Because that would be the stupidest thing you could possibly do.”

The client smiled. He still liked the scantily clad model, but he liked frank advice even more. (Mamie and I expanded on that first comment, and the client saw our reasoning.)

How to say no: All’s well that ends well

Okay, back to my client with the request for a sales kit redesign. When I put the brakes on that idea, she was disappointed. She even kind of whined and begged a bit. (She was half-joking.) But when I told her that there were better uses for her remaining budget—uses more likely to trigger sales—she graciously accepted my advice.

Maybe we’ll get to redesigning the sales kit next year. Meanwhile, our client knows that if we always said “yes” to her suggestions, it would only feel good for a while. The occasional “no” may be briefly annoying, but it can be more rewarding for the client in the long run. Learning how to say no can help your client and your agency.