Top Tips for Preparing to Leave the Office This Summer

Vacations. Hollywood might have us believe that no one in the history of mankind has ever taken a vacation that wasn’t riddled with an obnoxious array of misadventures.

Go to the beach and you might be attacked by a killer shark.

Hop on a cruise ship and it’s sure to crash into an iceberg.

Take a family road trip and you’re guaranteed to wreck the car, accidentally kill your aunt’s dog, lose your credit cards, and miss going to the theme park you trekked all the way across the country for because it’s closed.

In real life, vacations are rarely so complicated. Every summer, over half of all Americans make plans to get away from the day-to-day and enjoy a week or so of relaxation. Taking a break every now and then is crucial for both your health and your business success.

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If you are getting ready for your own vacation, you’ve probably noticed the real hassle isn’t planning for the trip itself — it’s making sure the office stays running while you’re gone. But this isn’t really a challenge — it’s an opportunity. All it takes is a little foresight.

First, let your staff know you’ll be out. Delegate your workload to someone you trust. Don’t forget to set up the auto reply on your email and record a new outgoing message on your phone. And give your customers some advanced warning to they can schedule around your vacation.

Already done? Great!

Now what about your social media accounts?

Your newsletter?

Lead generation?

Inbound sales?

Oh, boy.

Now, I don’t want to say overlooking your marketing while on vacation is the worst idea of all time, but it does rank up there with voluntarily trapping yourself on an island with a nine-ton cold-blooded T. Rex who’s been living on goats.

Why You Should Bother

Business tends to slow down this time of year. When customers let up, you may be tempted to let your marketing do the same, especially if you’re going on vacation yourself. Unfortunately, that’s not how good marketing works. You know how important marketing is during the rest of the year. Taking a trip to Bora Bora doesn’t change that fact.

5.10PullQuote2The key to great marketing is consistency. If you let your marketing take a vacation just because you are, you will find your customers may no longer think of you first. Or, even worse, by the time you return, they’ll have been stolen away by a competitor who decided to step up to the marketing plate while you were on a plane.

If you’re going on vacation, your marketing strategy needs some forethought before you leave the office. Since you can’t bring in new customers while you’re ziplining through a rainforest, taking some time before you leave to beef up your inbound marketing strategies is a great idea. One way to do this is to rev up your creative content that brings customers in so you don’t lose out on new leads while on vacation.

Compare it to fueling up your car before taking a road trip. When your marketing plan is filled up with everything it needs to function, it runs smoothly until the next pit stop. Keep your creative, informative, and engaging content coming so you don’t miss out on new customers while you’re on vacation.

Keep Your Online Presence From Going Dark

jawsThe instant access and communication to consumers created by Web 2.0 can be both a blessing and a cruel mistress. Any blackout on your social media accounts, however brief, can be damaging to your online presence.

The social media blog Buffersocial recommends posting at least twice a day on Facebook, three times a day on Twitter, and between once and twice a week on your blog.

One of the easiest ways to take social media and blog work off your plate while on vacation is to plan posts before you leave. Write any blog entries and social media post your business will need in your absence and schedule them in advance.

Facebook has a built-in function allowing you to create posts and schedule them months prior. You can also utilize software programs like Hubspot or Hootsuite to manage multiple social media accounts simultaneously, including Twitter and Google+.

If scheduling in advance doesn’t work for you, consider introducing a “guest blogger” or “guest Facebooker.” Pre-scheduled posts don’t always allow for customer interaction. Having someone new behind the screen while you’re on vacation keeps that communication channel open. A guest blogger, for instance, has the ability to craft content that relates to current events and interact with customers, while offering a fresh new voice.

Let Your Newsletter Handle Some Heavy Lifting

Getting your online marketing worked out is only half the battle. Don’t let your direct mailing plans suffer this summer either! Keeping both your offline and online marketing balanced is one of the best ways to create a killer marketing strategy.

5.10PullQuoteDirect marketing can be a many-headed beast with a lot of demands. That’s the beauty of newsletters, though. They’re planned out months in advance. As long as you stay on top of your content, your newsletters will always mail on time — whether you’re in the office or on the beach.

If your vacation falls during the time you usually take to go over your content for your upcoming edition, you’ll want to coordinate a different meeting time with those involved. That doesn’t mean getting on the phone with a project manager while you’re canoeing with friends.

Instead, prepare for this additional issue of your newsletter before you can’t be reached. Communicating with everyone who’s a part of your marketing team will help keep your plan running smoothly. For instance, think about two cover article topics before you leave for vacation, and give them both to your writer so they can work on your cover while you work on your tan.

Looking for another solution? “Guest columnists” can also be used in your newsletters. Mix up your traditional format by letting someone else take the cover interview for that month. This puts less work on your plate and presents your customers with an interesting new voice.

Looking for an article idea your readers will love? Try capitalizing on Hollywood’s impression of vacations and share some of your own vacation horror stories. Branch out and invite other co-workers to provide their own movie-worthy experiences to make your summer newsletter a blockbuster in its own right.  This is the kind of fun, relatable content that really connects with your readers. Having that personal touch ready before you go on vacation ensures you are continuing to build important relationships even while you’re away.

Relax … You’ve Earned It

Don’t forget the most important part of going on vacation: Relax while you are on it! You work hard so you can enjoy your free time, after all. Spend it with your family, enjoy some great food, take in the sights, and just relax for a while.

The office can manage without you. And thanks to your planning, so will your marketing strategies. Trust your team and service providers to handle the workload so you can let yourself savor the summertime bliss. When you come back, you will be reenergized and ready to tackle any challenge that comes your way.

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