I just got back from taking some time off.
During the break, I had the rare opportunity to conduct some “serious marketing research” on the subject of vacation.
Now back in the office, I am happy to report that it’s possible to “have your cake and eat it, too!” In addition to providing the time to enjoy the finer things in life, vacation can have a positive impact on your marketing efforts.
Here are some ways you can leverage your next vacation for maximum marketing mileage:
1. Make a plan.
What is your last day in the office? When are you planning to return? What should people do if they are faced with an urgent situation and need help?
Are you prepared to be interrupted by phone calls while you’re away? Will you respond to emails? Are you sure that you’ll have Internet access at your destination? Does your mobile carrier have a discounted voice & data package for your destination? (One time, during a short trip to Germany, I made the mistake of racking up over $500 in roaming charges for only about 60-minutes of talk and 5MB of data!!!)
It’s best to address these issues in advance. Be careful about making commitments to be accessible during your vacation. As usual, it’s advisable to under-promise and over-deliver. Plan ahead, honor any commitments that you make, and demonstrate to your customers, partners and coworkers that you are organized and in control.
2. Tell your customers, partners and coworkers about your vacation well in advance.
Use your upcoming vacation as an opportunity to send out short, personal emails to notify key people about your time away from the office. Personal emails, rather than a spam-like mass mailing, take a bit more time, but demonstrate that you care. Be sure to give some guidance about how people can receive support while you are away.
Aside from immediate benefits related to the demonstration of responsibility, accountability and good customer service, this “vacation notice” has tremendous marketing value on a subconscious level.
Your “vacation notice” shows your customers and partners that business is good. Somebody once said that “Nothing succeeds like success.” Although superficially this statement may seem redundant, in essence, it’s true. By taking a vacation and demonstrating that business is good enough for a well-deserved break, you show the people around you that you are successful enough to be tangibly rewarded, most likely by doing the right things in your business. Communicating success in subconscious ways such as taking a vacation may help you to attract additional business from your market.
3. Be prepared for increased activity before you leave.
We all know how challenging things get when preparing to leave on vacation. In addition to last minute travel arrangements and all the loose ends that need to get “tied up” at home and at the office, your vacation announcement may motivate people with whom you work to get things done before you leave. Be prepared for this last-minute rush. Delegate and do whatever you can to take advantage of this potential increase in business. Be sure to communicate with customers and, if you feel it’s appropriate, provide a status report to them before you leave. Help your customers and partners to relax and feel reassured so that they don’t “panic” while you are away.
4. Set up voice and email notifications.
According to Nicole Williams, author of business book Girl on Top, “Let people know that you’re away. Let them know if you will not be checking email or voicemail until a specific date. In your absence, provide someone else they can contact. You might give your return date as a day later than it really is in order to buy yourself a day to get organized upon returning.”
You’ve earned it! Rewarding yourself properly with a fun, relaxing, satisfying vacation is a great way to keep motivated and ready to tackle any challenges that may be awaiting you upon your return.
Vacations also may help you to maintain the motivation, support and understanding that you may need from your family. With its sweet rewards and happy memories, vacation can help you and your family to get through any “crunch” times that may occur in the future. By taking a well-deserved vacation, you have a tangible reward that you can point to later to help to justify the hard work and sacrifices that sometimes we all must face to succeed.
With the change of scenery, the exposure to a different culture, time to read & relax, and the change of routine, vacation offers the opportunity to gain fresh perspective that may open up new marketing breakthroughs for you and the company. Reflect, ponder, ruminate… This quality time can be used to think about life, work, the world and your place within it. Let your mind take advantage of this excellent brainstorming opportunity. Make sure to jot down any new goals, strategies, tactics or anything else that comes to mind – these ideas may be the seeds that will later revolutionize you and your business.
7. Promote your business in subtle ways while you’re traveling.
Wear the company shirt, lay down your business card when asked for your address & phone number. Don’t hesitate to discuss what you do when asked. (Your customers, potential customers, and people that they know are taking vacations, too, and we’re all connected now more than ever before.) You never know who you’re going to meet on your travels. You may be sitting next to a potential customer on the plane. Somebody that knows somebody might be waiting behind you at the car rental agency. Somebody with a family member in a key business may be working the counter at the hotel. You may be having dinner or be on the beach next to somebody that can help you. Anything can happen.
After your return, don’t let people think that the company sent you on a “permanent vacation.” Be sure to “ping” your contacts with a short, personal email to let them know that you are back and ready to help them with their goals.