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Don't let your digital marketing go on holiday: 5 ways to keep B2B marketers busy this summer

Summer is often thought of as a time to back off from marketing activities. With the good weather (ok, it's raining a lot, but it's definitely warmer), and summer holidays for many, site visits are down, response rates are down, revenues are down. Key stakeholders are taking time off - and not at the same time - meaning that purchase decisions are being delayed and lead times extended, and your client is having problems getting creative and copy signed off. What's the point in putting in the effort? Why not head off on holiday yourself until normal service resumes towards the end of August?

Agreed, it's not the right time for that massive marketing push, and there's no point in investing in data that will almost certainly under-perform, but surely this is an opportunity to focus on some of the areas that are often neglected or dealt with half-heartedly at the last minute? Think optimisation, think long-term planning, think hitting the ground running on the first of September!

Here are 5 suggestions on how to keep the B2B marketing team more than busy during July and August:

1. Optimise your marketing database
We often don't pay enough attention to our own databases, beyond hammering them regularly with this email or that. It's easy to forget how quickly data can degrade and a thorough 'summer clean' can make all the difference. This excellent blog on data cleansing during the summer months sums up the argument for regular optimisation and how to go about it.

2. Plan your content
These days, content really is king. It sits at the core of all marketing activities - Search, Social Media, Lead Nurturing, Lead Generation all need good content to live and breathe. If you are honest, however, how far in advance do you plan your content? In fact, do you plan it at all, or do you wait for something to react to, or for a colleague to put their hand up and say 'I have an idea for a blog!' or 'should we send out an email'?

Being reactive is by no means to be discounted, but it should form part of an organised, proactive approach involving a calendar, different themes, different authors and different types of content. During these quieter weeks, why not create a plan for the next six months? Tie it into events you are attending, anticipated product launches, and, of course, the key qualities of your products and services. Do leave from for the reactive stuff, though!

3. Write your content
You've planned the content, so why not try to get a head start on writing it? Another classic situation that many will recognise is where, in spite of the carefully crafted content plan, the people who agreed at the time to produce certain key pieces are suddenly far too busy on 'revenue generating work' to produce them by a deadline that, when initially fixed, was months in the future. Some pieces are time-sensitive and rely on specific events or news, but others don't. Now is the perfect time to produce that long-anticipated case study whilst sunning yourself sheltering from the rain under a parasol.

4. Plot your social media landscape
As we all know, summer is the ideal time for a bit of gardening, but have you considered spending some of that down time doing a bit of virtual landscaping instead? A 2011 survey of 760 CMOs by MarketingSherpa found that over 80% of them were yet to develop a strategic approach to their social media marketing, and one of the first steps when developing a strategy is to understand your landscape. As Brian Solis' comprehensive 'Conversation Prism' shows, there are well over 100 different social platforms / tools out there for the delectation or confusion of today's marketer.

There's no point in targeting the lot for your communications, or, for that matter, any more than 5 - you just won't have the time, and you will probably be talking to no-one about things they don't want to know! The question is, which platforms are the ones that your target market uses, and that's what your landscape can tell you. This summer, spend the time to analyse where your prospects spend time on social media, what they talk about, and who's talking, and you will have taken your first big step towards a strategy.

5. Get up to date with the latest technologies and techniques
You see the announcements on a weekly basis: another new site / gadget / app / software version that's achieving wonderful things, but do you know if or how it could benefit your business? Now's the moment to find out by reading into it in a bit more depth. During the summer lull, take a proper look at what Pinterest can do for you, or read up on the benefits of social sign-in (spoiler alert, this is a blog by me!). See what the nurturing community feels about moving to Eloqua 10, and whether Google+ is actually establishing a useful niche for itself. We all need to keep evolving our digital marketing, but the challenge is choosing the path for our evolution, and maybe now's the right time to do it.

That's my 5, and plenty to keep the most underworked marketer busy, but I'm sure there are many more, so please feel free to add them below...