Have you noticed? The days are getting shorter. It’s getting dark before the workday ends! I’ve noticed – it seems like all anyone here in Seattle wants to talk about. There’s a joke among Alaskans: When people ask, “What do you do in the winter when it gets dark?” The answer: We turn on the lights. That’s right – don’t let a little less sunshine slow you down.

Another thing I’ve noticed as the weather’s been turning brisk – it’s the squirrels! They’re scampering hither and thither collecting and storing provisions. The other day I rounded a corner and startled a furry fella on the sidewalk stuffing his face with seeds. He just gave me a defiant stare; that look of, “Get outa my office, this work isn’t gonna do itself!”

It’s the season to shift gears, take stock, and plan for what’s ahead. We humans aren’t much different from our fluff-tailed friends. We make ourselves busy with year-end preparations, but as nature slows down a bit, we can’t help but reflect on the year that’s past and make plans for the year to come.

No resolutions required

One thing to think about this season is a communication plan for your business. Maybe you want to connect more with your customers, tell them about new services you’re offering, or remind them that you’d love to serve their friends and family, too.

Is your brain spinning with holiday lights, shopping, and feasts? Set aside a little brain power for that communication plan and you’ll be able to start next year feeling accomplished. What you need are some practical tips to get your plan started. Try these:

It’s calendar season! There are entire stores full of calendars. Go down to the bookstore and get yourself one of those big calendars that lets you look at the whole year at one glance. While you’re at it, grab yourself some pencils, colored highlighters, and a good eraser. It’s time to put your thinking in writing.

How much is enough? Next, decide how frequently you want to communicate with your customers. The answer to this question is two-fold: How often do they want to hear from you, and what’s your capacity? Whether it’s monthly, weekly, or more frequently, mark it on your calendar.

Plan your year. As you look at your whole year laid out in front of you, think about how you can reflect the flow of the seasons in your communications. Whether your business is seasonal or not, people respond well to messages in tune with the world around them.

Do it! Now that you’ve penciled in some seasonal ideas, it’s time to get serious. Make a commitment – will you send something out the first of every month? Every Monday? Ink it in. You can get really sophisticated by using a different color for each type of communication – email, postal mail, social media, etc.

Synergize. If you’ve got an advertising campaign, don’t forget to overlay that on your calendar. That way you can look for synergies that make your content easier to write.

Get started! The reason for this forward planning is to figure out how many communications you can plan out ahead of time. That’s right, while you’re in squirrel-mode, why not create a cache of messages for the next six months – or the whole year? Keep in mind, consistency is one of the keys to building successful brands. That means you don’t have to create a new piece each time you’re ready to send something out –  maybe you just modify it a little.

While you’re enjoying the holiday season, energize your end-of-year motivation and get your communication plan ready for 2020. It’s also a great way to grab yourself a little quiet time and enjoy a steamy cup of hot cider.

Copyright 2019, Liz Behlke