Profitable Doldrums

It’s hot.

It’s damn hot.

It’s August, it’s damn hot, and any self-repecting mammal is laying low in a shady spot catching extra zzz’s.

This includes many right-thinking humans. Europe practically shuts down for the month, and the cities empty as everyone goes on a month-long vacation.

Here in the States, our Puritan genes recoil at such frivolousness. And many business flog away at their markets pretending there’s nothing different going on.

My advice: Calm down. Take a deep breath.

Go have a nice cold drink.

There are, and always have been, “dead spots” in most markets during the year. You don’t want to mail into a major holiday like Christmas or Thanksgiving or the Fourth of July. You don’t want to schedule seminars in June or September if your target audience has school-age kids — or you’ll get caught up in the going-back-to-school and graduation exodus.

Unless, of course, you’re selling stuff related to those events.

And, for many of us, August is just a black hole for sales messages.

Understanding your market on a deep level requires a little focus and effort, to track the buying patterns of your flock. You cannot rely on “common sense” all the time. For example: The best time to send out golf-related pitches is not in the Spring, when everyone is dragging their clubs out of the closet.

Rather, it’s in the shivering months of January and February… when everyone is dreaming of that first warm round. When the pleasing picture of future benefit already has a toe-hold in their mind.

Markets differ in their patterns, and it’s one of your main jobs to find both the bad times to reach your prospects, and the best times.

For many markets, August just sucks.

So don’t panic if your response just took a dive, and you can’t find any good reason for it. Just stick your head outside.

It’s too damn hot to pay attention to anyone’s sales pitch right now.

But that doesn’t mean you need to turn off the lights and go into hibernation.

Instead, use this down month to spend some quality time with your house list. If you haven’t sent them something recently that didn’t include a plea for money… you probably need to. Every once in a while, it pays off huge to just contact your best customers… and GIVE them something.

For free.

No strings attached.

It’s part of the long-term bonding process. All year long, you’re tortuing them with message after message about something they want or need. If you’re writing good copy, then you’re teasing them mercilessly about it, too.

Now, it may be that they are comfortable with being hit on all the time by you.

Still, like any relationship, you stand to gain if — once in a while — you bestow a generous, unexpected gift on them. For no reason at all, other than the fact you are happy they’re part of your life.

And you’re not the greedy bastard they thought you were, never contacting them without wanting something.

They may react suspiciously to this gift, so you really need to make it clear you’re not using it as a ruse to get into their wallet later on.

No strings.

No obigation.

No need to even do anything. You’ve included the free gift in the package you just sent. It’s theirs, to dispose of or use as they please.

You can make it a free report that offers huge value. But that’s kind of cheesy, if you’ve been slamming their bank account for any significant amounts. Much better is a published book — not your own latest best-seller, either. Something you’ve read and profited from.

A real gift.

You’ll be amazed at the good will you can generate with something that costs you a few bucks to send out.

And what do you do to make your nut for the month?

Easy. First, I’m not suggesting you never actually try to sell anything during down times.

Just know that you’re up against huge distractions — like the damn heat… and the fact your prospect may be on vacation a thousand miles away — and structure your offer to reflect that fact.

This is why so many smart marketers plan for “fire sales” during August. Or “we’re cleaning out our warehouse” sales. Or “damaged goods” sales.

Your prospect base may have been cut in half, or worse, for the month. So don’t do any huge rollout. Instead, offer a one-time opportunity, to your best customers, and use the fact it’s a down month as your excuse.

Reason-why copy works because it gives your prospect, literally, a reason why he should buy right now. Just the fact you’re having a sale isn’t a full reason.

But a more fleshed-out reason… like your need to generate some action during a heat-stroked down period… makes perfect sense.

And perfect sense often results in a decision to buy.

Personally, I’ve used August to let my assistant go off on an extended vacation… so I could shut off the phones and devote myself to writing.

Nearly all the courses and books I’ve written were completed during a sultry August break. I plan for the projects in the months prior… but I get the concentrated writing done in an air-conditioned orgy while the world bakes.

Shutting up shop completely can make good sense, too. Give yourself time to regroup, stop obsessing on the biz for a few weeks, let some whacky ideas simmer.

Read some good fiction, to really get your mind off things.

If you’ve been performing Operation MoneySuck all year long, you SHOULD be able to slip away for most of August, and not lose a beat when you return for a refreshed, cleared-brain Fall assault on your market.

Heck, if you have any special ways you’ve been spending August profitably, let’s hear about it in the comments section.

I kinda doubt there are too many of you out there reading this, though.

It’s too damn hot to log on, even.

Keep cool, y’all.

John Carlton

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  • Man, first time I learned this lesson I was shocked. In the weight loss business, August is dead. Rigor mortis sets in and the patient is dead until right after labor day.

    My golf list goes crazy the week of any big tournament. Everyone things of themselves as the next Vijay or Tiger.

    I’ve noticed calls are slightly down so I’m busy gearing up for September and finding other ways to stay busy and profitable.

    As a recent graduate of Carlton University, Operation Moneysuck never ends.

    You just have to be a little more creative.

    Vegas was 122 degree the day I left.

    Yeah but it’s a dry heat.

  • Tina says:

    Hey, try Yuma, Arizona in August! Yahoo!
    108 or more every day…87 at night.

    My air conditioned brain is humming along
    nicely though…most of the time anyway.
    Still working with copywriting clients plus
    working on my own sites.

  • Same here …

    Copywriting business is slow and it’s NOT very
    encouraging to work with that Florida sun
    blasting outside. So I take the time to read as
    much as I can and just take it easy for a while.

    Family not complaining either for the exra attention
    they get from Daddy who is normally locked up in his
    office all day and night. At least now I seem to
    remember that they exist.

    Good to know that there’s nothing wrong with my
    marketing but it’s just a slow time of the year.

  • ken calhoun says:

    Good points re a freebie… I just gave my house list a free 2-week online seminar … they appreciate that… I love getting emails from fans saying the free stuff is better than what others charge $ for. Primes the pump for future sales, and makes for good karma.

    and the heat geez, let’s get a break already — took a weekend off w/wife/daughter for a shopping weekend in Denver, was great… nice to celebrate what we do all this work for in the first place.

    taking 24-48 hour mini vacations once/twice a month is great – go check into a suite in a nice hotel, grab a feast of room service, hot shower and cold drinks, it’s fun.


  • Ann Zuccardy says:

    Ahhh…even up here in the Arctic, it’s hot. I’m bored out of my mind with my corporate job and it’s the slowest time of year for my businesses, so I created an August challenge goal just to prove that maybe I can make self-employment work. If I can do it in August, I can do it year-round. Part of the deal is giving away free product. So far, so good. I’m one-third of the way there. Thanks for the timely post.

  • Thanks for reminding us once again about the “August Blues”; loved your pun about the “air-conditioned orgy”, brilliant.

  • Matt Gallant says:

    One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever integrated from John is… SCHEDULED REST.

    I’m back from a 12 day vacation that included: a 10 year high school reunion (boy that was the “weird zone)… and a 4 day party in Montreal (Which is by FAR the FUNNEST CITY IN NORTH AMERICA… And has BY FAR the hottest, most accessible babes on this continent).

    Anyways… thanks John for keeping things balanced.

    Now… lets get back in operation money suck…


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