The end of the year, Q4, the holidays, and 2022 are all right at our doorstep. 

And I know SO many entrepreneurs that use this time of the year to take their foot off of the gas, but to be honest, that’s basically the opposite of what you should be doing. 

Along with “end of the year,” or, “I don’t have the time” excuses, it’s common to blame ad costs as a reason why we DON’T want to implement a year end marketing strategy. But, even though it may seem like your ad spend increases around this time of year, you’ll actually HURT your business if you choose to avoid spending on ads. 

Although this may seem somewhat counterintuitive, in this episode I touch on how spending money on ads can RAMP UP your cash infusion, how to connect with your warm audience, engage your cold audience, and leverage your promotions. 

Q4 and holiday marketing doesn’t have to be hard or scary. In fact, you’ll be happy that you took the bull by the horns and OWNED your new strategy at the end of 2021. 

If you resonated with any of my Q4 strategies, or learned something new, send me a DM on Instagram (@emilyhirsh)! I would love to hear about how you’re planning on kicking butt this quarter! 

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READ THE EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Emily Hirsh:

Hello, my friends. How are you guys? Let’s talk about today. The holidays in Q4, I recognize we’re already a month into Q4, which is wild, almost a month in, and this is a question I get asked every single year since I’ve started my company. And I was just asked about it last week and I’ve done podcasts on it in the past, but from last year. I want to talk about it this year. And that question is, should I be running ads in Q4 and through the holidays? Because everybody tells me they’re more expensive. And I am obviously biased in the sense that we run ads for clients, and partners, and myself throughout this time period. But I do have opinions on this. Number one, I will say that yes, ads can be more expensive during this time period. However, they’re not always more expensive.

There’s actually a lot of our clients, especially in certain industries, like if you’re in the B2B space, the reality is that most entrepreneurs and most business owners really are not taking time off for all of the holidays. So they might take, you know, the week in-between Christmas and New Year’s off and the week of Thanksgiving might be slower, but otherwise it’s business as usual for most entrepreneurs. And if you are an entrepreneur, you probably understand that. So, certain industries are not impacted at all by the holidays. The other thing is, this is also a massive buying period for a lot of people. There’s gifts, there is considering, “oh, I’m, you know, coming up on the end of the year, I got to prepare for next year.” There’s things people want, this is a time where people are actually spending a lot of money.

There’s opportunity there too. And sometimes in certain industries or certain accounts, we don’t notice an increase in cost at all. So to put a blanket statement out there and say, “oh, well, ads across the board are more expensive.” is definitely not correct. It can be more expensive. And especially around Black Friday and that weekend, it’ll probably be more expensive for most people. And the reason why it’s not, because people aren’t actually clicking on the ad and consuming the ad, it’s that more people are running ads, more businesses are running ads because Black Friday. And so they’re running promotions. That’s the main reason that ad cost can go up, is there’s more ads, which means there’s less ad space, which means the ad space is more expensive. But the answer to the question of, “should I be running ads at all? Do I turn my ads off?”

No, absolutely not. Unless you have a solid reason behind doing that. So, an example of a solid reason behind doing that would be, let’s say you’re getting an eight, $9 cost per webinar registration, or you’re getting great cost per click to your sales page. The cost completely shoots up and it’s at $20. You try new ad, copy you try new images. You try new audiences. You try for a good period of time, 7 to 10 days to truly get that cost down, and you have no luck, then maybe you could consider turning off the ads. But I would probably say, switch your strategy. And maybe just scale back the ads versus completely turning them off. But what most people do is they hear in a Facebook group or from somebody say, “oh, it’s Q4 and ads are more expensive” and they panic. And they say, “okay, well I’m not even going to start my ads cause I was going to start them, but I’m just going to wait until January or I’m just gonna turn my ads off. Cause they’re probably more expensive.”

And you guys, your decision should always be made off of data. So first of all, let’s go with the question I was asked a couple of weeks ago was, “should I just not even run my ads? I was about ready to start my funnel and start ads for the first time. Should I not even run them because it’s more expensive? And should I just wait until January?” No, absolutely not. Because the cost to you as a business owner and your progress in your business for waiting at this time, it would have been three months waiting, three months to even start your ads, out of fear that they might be more expensive, is way higher than even paying a little bit more for your ad cost.

So, no. And then if you’re in the boat where you are running ads, but they’re getting more expensive, you need to make sure that you’re trying everything you can to get them down. Which means new ad copy, new images, new creative, new audiences. And then if that doesn’t work, you go to, “okay, should I shift my funnel? Should I shift my strategy?” So I’m going to talk about your strategy a little bit in utilizing warm and cold traffic throughout this time. But before you just say, “oh, somebody said they’re more expensive or I heard they’re more expensive. Let me shut off my ads,” base it off of data and make sure you’ve given yourself a fair chance because in the reality of things, your business, it’s going to cost you more to not generate an audience and leads for the next two, three months than it is to potentially pay a little bit more. And you really have to weigh that.

I also look at it as a challenge. I think I said this on a previous podcast recently, but I think a lot of people take their foot off the gas at the end of the year. And I think they do it because it’s, I don’t want to say excuse because it’s legitimate to say, oh, it’s the holidays. People are busy, or people aren’t going to be engaging, but that’s like almost always true because you can say that in the summer, you can say that around the holidays and then you go into New Year and you’re like, oh, people are getting back into the swing of things and they’re not engaging. Like there’s always something. I don’t want to say it’s an excuse because it’s a valid thing to say, but also we can’t just have blanket statements like that. We have to have solutions.

So instead of saying, “oh, you know, it’s more expensive, it’s the holidays, so I’m not going to run ads.” You have to look at it and say, “how do I still generate an audience and generate leads and sales, even though it might be more expensive? Or if I can get my costs down in this period of time, where ads are a little bit more expensive, then imagine what I’m going to be able to do going into Q1.” and kind of look at it as that challenge, versus taking your foot off the gas. Like let’s put our foot on the gas, let’s end the year strong, and let’s not create a reason why we should slow down our progress. Now I am all for, and supportive, and encourage you to make sure you take time off and you don’t work through the holidays and don’t enjoy it.

But come on, we go to work most days, like maybe you’re going to take a week or two off at the most. That doesn’t mean months have to stall your progress right now. So that’s my opinion on, in general, should you be running ads? Base it off of data. Don’t use it as an excuse or reason to delay your progress and at least give yourself a fair shot. And then view it as a challenge to say, “hey, if this is a little bit more challenging of a time or a more expensive of a time, I’m going to still create success. Even through that time, because there’s always going to be something or going into next year, then things might be even less expensive for me, who knows.” So that’s how I would view it. Now let’s talk a little bit about the strategy of running ads in Q4.

So for some of you guys, you can just keep going as it is throughout Q4. And you may not see much of an increase in cost, if at all, people are still signing up for webinars. People are still downloading lead magnets. I had a very big client, we had a really big client, when I first started running ads, maybe five years ago. And this was my first big, big influencer client that I worked with where I was still managing the ads. I was just starting to build my team, and I remember that they were like, “okay, we have our lead magnets that we run because they live launch like once a year, and they basically run lead gen all the rest of the year.” And I remember they were like, “okay, we have our lead magnets and we’re going to keep them on through the holidays, but we’re probably going to pause them all of December.”

And I was pretty new to ads at that time. And so I hadn’t gone through the holiday promotional period, especially with a large budget that they are spending. They were spending probably $10,000 a month on just lead gen. And then they had their launch where they spent $30,000 or $40,000, anyways. This was one of my first experiences with holidays. And I remember her saying, “okay, we’re going to pause this probably all of December, but we just won’t turn it off. If the cost doesn’t go up. And so I kept optimizing the ads, we kept refreshing the creative, standard optimizing, and the cost never went up. We kept the ads on all of the holidays. We did standard optimizing, and ad improvement, and we never turned the ads off. And she was super surprised. She was like, “wow.”

We maintained at that time. It was around $2 cost per lead. Obviously, it’s probably gotten a little more expensive than from then, that was five years ago. But, the lesson is, you can still keep running your ads as is. And for a lot of you, that is relevant and you shouldn’t be just turning off your ads unless you have data backing. These are our numbers before the holidays, and these are our numbers during the holidays. And so we should make the strategic decision to change our ads. But, if you need to make the decision to scale back your ads, or turn off some of your ads, that’s when you can start leaning on warm traffic. Utilizing your warm traffic, your list, your video views, your page engagement, the people that go into your website, is always really beneficial in times where it’s a little harder to get cold traffic.

So if your ads are getting expensive, and you’re in that place where you’re like, “should I turn them all the way off? What should I do?” Number one, try to get the cost down by doing the standard optimizing tactics, but number two, lean on your warm traffic, figure out how you can generate some warm traffic campaigns. Maybe it’s a webinar that you really pushed to your warm traffic, maybe it is just lead magnet ads, maybe you scale back your ad spend. So that you’re mostly spending on warm traffic and just a little bit of cold traffic, maybe your top converting cold traffic audiences. But it will hurt you more, completely shutting off ads. That is not a good strategy. And so, if you can figure out “how do I run ads at the most affordable cost?” Warm traffic is definitely one of them. The other piece that I think is really powerful is that there’s so much opportunity during this time period in terms of messaging and how you serve your audience.

Obviously, if you’re in the fitness industry, December and January are massive for you guys. These are some of the best months of the year, and I’ve been finding more and more in different industries. People aren’t even waiting until New Year’s to start really like getting going on things, or at least planning for it. And so we did a campaign, I think last year in December, around planning your ads, planning your marketing goals for the whole next year. And it crushed it. I mean, December was a huge month for us. So if you think about, “what does my audience need in the months leading up to the holidays? Or maybe it’s January right after the holidays. There’s a lot of opportunity because this is a time where people are re-evaluating, they’re looking at like the goals that they had, that they didn’t accomplish.

They’re looking at next year, what they want to accomplish, what they need to accomplish that. And so there’s opportunity for you to even do a mini live launch, or have a new lead magnet, or something that actually supports your audience through this time. Or maybe it’s your offer. And you shift the positioning of your offer to line up with this time that your audience is going through. There’s a lot of opportunity to leverage that in the way you deliver with, to your audience. And so you have to know, “what does my audience need right now? But in November, December, January, people are evaluating the past year. They’re looking towards the next year, they’re ready to buy. They’re ready to make decisions. We always have really great Decembers because people are planning for the next year and they know they need to get this in place.

They need to get marketing in place. Oftentimes, we will lean in on that, and we’ll lean in on that time, and what people are doing, and actually do some sort of live experience, or offer some sort of value. So start thinking about, it’s getting close, so you have to start thinking about it now, but is there an opportunity that you actually can capitalize on this time versus say, “oh, I’m just going to not run ads.” It’s like, “I’m just going to pause everything that should never be an option for anybody” because you’ve gotta be generating traffic and leads in your business or you’re not growing. So the last piece I’ll touch on is just actual holiday promotions. I recently did a training on this in our monthly Roundup that we send out to our audience in our list, but I’ll briefly touch on it.

I love holiday promotions. They’re a great way to capitalize on your warm audience. And it really shows, have you done the work all year to build your warm audience leading up to the holidays, leading up to Black Friday, or Christmas time, or New Years? Because if you have, you have a warm audience that you can capitalize on. There’s a couple of ways that you can look at your holiday promotions, you can either discount what you have and just put a really great discount, with an obviously very limited time offer, or you can create a micro offer from your offers that you do on Black Friday. And that’s kind of a good option if you are selling really high ticket. That’s usually what we do, is some sort of strategy call, or we’ll discount our offer, this year I want to pull out a micro offer.

So maybe you do a strategy call, maybe you do some sort of mini bonus. I wouldn’t create something brand new. I would either discount what you have, or pull out something, like a micro piece of what you have, or do a strategy session, or a coaching session or something that’s a one-off deal. And, and you can promote that. The way you promote your holiday promotions is heavily on email and text message. If you have the leads, and then re-targeted ads to your warm audience, and you have to remember, you are definitely fighting for attention during that time. There’s a ton of deals. There’s a ton of businesses trying to get your audiences’ and your leads’ attention. You have to really stand out and you have to really make sure that whatever you’re offering you tie back what they want right then, and the pain that they’re experiencing.

So if you have a really good offer, it’s not just good enough to say, “oh, I’m just offering 15% for Black Friday.” You still have to sell the offer. You still have to sell why they should buy it. Then, the discount is going to push them over into taking action now, but you still have to have the pain, and the problem you solve, and how you’re helping them, and why they should take action now. Then the discount is that bonus, and you have to do it in a way that really stands out, because there’s a lot of other businesses doing that. You basically are fighting for, saying, “hey, this problem you have is one of the most important, and my offer, my product is going to solve that for you.” So make sure you get it now.

Then, the discount, and the timeframe, and the urgency will push them over. I wouldn’t recommend on actual Black Friday weekend or, right around the holidays, you don’t need to do  a webinar or something to actually promote it in that way. This is a promotion straight to your product or your service or your offer, and you’re doing it via emails, and retargeting ads, and text message. If you have that, and you’re putting it out to your audience in the most authentic, unique way that you can, so that they actually consume it and see it, this is just a great opportunity for a cash infusion in your business. And like I said, you’ll know if you’ve done the work of building your warm audience, if you haven’t, and it’s the same size as last year or smaller, you may not have a lot of success with your promotion, and maybe you decided, “I don’t want to do one because I haven’t been building my warm audience.”

But if you have been building your warm audience, it’s a great opportunity for you to generate some extra revenue for your company during this time. So overall, with the holidays in Q4, I think there’s a ton of opportunity for us business owners. Like I said, this is when people are spending money, this is when people are spending more money and looking at their business, looking at their life, and evaluating their past year, or the year coming up, and they’re ready to solve their problem. They’re like, “crap, I haven’t taken action on this, or I haven’t accomplished this. I need help. I need to solve this problem.” And they feel that urgency more. I think that if you do it right, there’s a lot of opportunity, and don’t make any decisions that aren’t backed up by data. Don’t let people scaring you about ad costs and making blanket statements drive any action that you take, because you have to base it off of your business and your data. And in most cases, fully not running ads for months at a time, and not building your audience, and building your leads throughout this time is going to hurt your business more than paying a little bit more for that. All right, everybody. I hope you guys found this helpful. Thanks so much for listening today, and I’ll talk to you next week.

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