The new year is a perfect time for a fresh start. For an agile agency, this means seeking out new avenues to achieving your goals. Even if you have the ambition, however, finding the right time to test out novel approaches can be difficult. This is especially true once the holidays are over and everyone has already returned to business as usual.
Instead of waiting until that happens, you can use the start of a new year to test original campaigns. Let’s look at why the early new year is such a valuable opportunity.
As we’ve discussed before‚ the holiday period is a time full of opportunities for a smart digital agency. Many other agencies in your industry will be shut down‚ or running a skeleton staff. This makes the early new year a perfect time to be bold and seize the initiative. With less competition‚ you have open airwaves and a terrific chance to make a lasting impression.
Since the early new year will also see much of your audience on holiday‚ it’s an excellent opportunity to test out any quirky or novel campaigns you aren’t sure will hit the mark. Running creative campaigns at this time enables you to stand out, and catch the eye of potential clients who are seeking to start the year with a new agency. You’ll also ensure that any existing clients who are still around won’t forget about you, and will see that you’re fully committed to your business.
The nice thing about this period of the year is that it’s fairly low-risk. People are on holiday, away from the regular stress and demands of the year, and are often in a better mood and more receptive. Even if they don’t love one of your campaigns, odds are they’ll recognize that it’s a holiday period, and understand that your agency will return to business as usual once the working year starts again.
Like any time of year, creating a strategy for early new year campaigns requires some preparation. This is best done in advance. To help you out, here are three tips for how to plan these campaigns.
Recognize the Creative Season
The new year is a chance to build on the successes of your past year, and use them as a springboard. Reflection is a valuable strategy at this time, as your campaigns in the coming year will be at their best when they mix new ideas with proven techniques. Looking to previous campaigns for new angles you haven’t yet tried can be a solid source of inspiration.
Alongside testing variations of older campaigns, the early new year is a smart time to try creating content in different voices and styles. For example, you can experiment with campaigns that involve breaking the fourth wall. This method enables you to make a personal connection with your audience, and engage them through humor.
Breaking the fourth wall also helps if you’re unsure about a campaign, as you can directly tell your audience that you are testing some ideas and ask for their feedback. Doing this increases the chances that your campaign will have a strong launch, while also giving your agency a “Get out of Jail Free” card in the event that the campaign doesn’t strike a chord.
Acquire Useful Data
The early new year is an ideal time for collecting analytics. Every calendar month is unique in some way, but this period is particularly effective for engaging your audience. The winter holiday season is a rare time when many businesses will shut down for one or two weeks, and your audience will be primarily indoors and online.
Since this period is so unique compared to other times of the year, you can take some early readings on the possible responses to your upcoming campaigns. A simple social media question or website poll (such as “Enjoying the holiday season? What are you most looking forward to next year?”) can be a great way to get some early data, and gauge what your audience is currently interested in.
Keep in mind that audience behavior during this period can change significantly from year to year. Their responses can depend on a variety of changing factors, such as how well the economy is performing. Testing out new campaigns in the early new year gives you a chance to test your existing assumptions, and can identify any upcoming major shifts in trends and behavior. This information will often help to shape your agency’s direction for the entire year.
It’s a Forgiving (and Quiet) Time
Even veteran marketers often find themselves nervous about the prospect of a brand new campaign. This can lead many businesses to stall on the testing process, forever leaving a potentially successful campaign in the Pending pile. It’s true that every agency occasionally has a campaign that doesn’t quite hit the mark, but that’s all the more reason to have a set period of time where you can take a few risks and sort the good ideas from the bad.
As you’ve probably guessed, we recommend the new year as the right time for this experimentation. If the campaign you try out makes a splash, you can build on that momentum as you head into the rest of the year. If it doesn’t do so well, that’s okay too. Since it’s the very start of the year, it’s easy to put a lackluster campaign behind you, and start again when regular business returns. Plus, many of your regular clients and audience members won’t even have been impacted by it. That’s why trying out campaigns that are bold and unusual can be a fantastic way to start the year.
The new year always brings with it new ideas, but too few agencies truly capitalize on them.
By planning campaigns for the new year, and then actively testing them early on, your agency can obtain useful data. This especially true since these tests will be conducted at a time when your audience will be more forgiving of any missteps, and greater creativity is often rewarded.
Do you think it’s useful to test out new campaigns in the first few months of the year? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter!