How to make the most out of your end-of-year program renewals.

By Gretchen Kast

It’s that time of year again! Everyone is looking ahead to the future, planning next steps and new opportunities. For us, the last quarter of the year marks the season of renewals. Each fall, we take time to connect with our existing advertisers, along with last year’s sponsors and exhibitors, as they plan their budget for the following year. While it may seem like a pretty standard practice, this remains an essential part of our ongoing sales success. With a smarter, more dedicated approach to contract renewals, you’ll have the chance to nurture closer relationships and build towards bigger, more impactful marketing programs.

Annual advertisers and returning customers are our bread and butter. While one-off insertions can be advantageous from time to time, we know that the larger more comprehensive marketing programs are more valuable in the long run. They’re what keeps many of our partners coming back year after year. But it’s important to remember that, just because a marketing plan was successful one year, that doesn’t mean it will always be that way. By keeping an eye out for new ways to improve each annual campaign, we ensure that our partners continue to see the benefits of working with us and our clients—and sometimes they even end up increasing their spends in the process. 

Make It Personal

Anyone can update the dates on an ad contract and send it out for a signature—in fact, most CMS platforms can be programmed to do that for you. But if you’re looking to do more than re-up an existing program, it’s important to make more of an effort to customize your messaging to the specific company. A more personalized approach will give you the chance to work more closely with the company to understand their goals for the year ahead and discuss how your organization can help. Remembering a major personal milestone for a decision-maker and including it in the PS (something like, “congrats on record-breaking sales this year” OR “so excited to hear about your promotion, well-deserved”) can take the personal touch a step further, reminding the decision-maker of the relationship you’ve built during the past year.

Provide A Performance Report

Take the time to look back at what the company’s previous contract looked like. What platforms and publications did they take part in? If they have a digital component to their program, collate and share key metrics like impressions and click through rate. And while print-only programs don’t allow for such exact reporting, you can still highlight their more general reach through circulation and attendance numbers. Providing this type of data can help paint a clearer picture of what’s working and what’s not—and potentially point to new places they can and should be putting their efforts. Anticipating some of the questions they may ask will also remind them of your detail-oriented and personalized marketing support—you’re not simply selling the opportunities and access to the audience, you’re offering them your expertise as well.

Update Them On New Opportunities

Don’t assume your marketing partners have been staying up-to-date on your organization’s latest news. When you reach out about contract renewal, clue them in on any new outlets or opportunities you’ve developed over the past year. Include new publications or e-newsletters, expanded content offerings or advertising placements. Even if a particular company has been participating in the same program for years, you shouldn’t write them off. In fact, your newest resource may be the exact opportunity that marketer has been waiting for to shake things up. Pay attention to the website of your advertiser or sponsor: are they up to anything new? Could an opportunity you offer help them promote it? Don’t miss an opportunity to make the connection between your new opportunity and their latest innovation—at the very least, they’ll be excited that you’ve noticed a project they’ve been working on.

Prepare In Advance & Make It Simple

This is a busy time of year for everyone—your marketing partners included. While some people will want to sit down and hammer out all the details with you, others will appreciate a more streamlined approach. In order to engage everyone, it’s important to do adequate prep work before reaching out. Know what the previous contract looked like and think through a few different possibilities for how to best optimize their spend. By putting together an actual proposal or two and sending them within your first correspondence, you’re giving your busy customers the more time-efficient option of simply signing and moving on. And even if your contact isn’t quite ready to seal the deal, getting a few fully fleshed-out ideas in front of them can help get the discussion rolling.

Trim The Fat

You’ve drafted a customized renewal letter and attached a contract option or two. Ready to hit send, right? Wrong! As a last step, back up and re-read your message. Our last piece of advice? Challenge yourself to remove at least one to two sentences. The contract will absolutely not get renewed if the email feels too long for a busy director of marketing to read!

Want to learn more? Get in touch today.