While planning marketing over Christmas I’m reflecting on the phenomenon of the shrinking year.
If I were to ask you “How many months in the year”, you would probably confidently answer twelve. But more and more, over the past years, I’ve been feeling that there are only eleven.
This is particularly scary when coupled with the fact that, as I “advance in years” time goes faster and faster. I remember when I was at school, a term seeming like a complete lifetime, but now it’s like the blink of an eyelid. That particular speeding up of time first started when I was a working Mum needing to arrange child-care over the school holidays.
If you’re reading this in December, when it’s scheduled for publication, you’ll probably have more than an inkling of where this post is going.
Does anyone else feel that we’ve completely lost a month out of those twelve?
Christmas Starting In September?
I won’t mention (OK I will…) the fact that the earliest Christmas display I saw this year in a local shop was in September.
This must be really irritating to those victims of “pester-power”, the hapless Mums and Dads who will be faced with a barrage of adverts and “ideas” for fad toys as Christmas gifts, together with the inevitable “out of stock” and “late deliveries” and “need for a surprise, too” that conspire to mean parents will probably end up buying TWO main gifts per child, plus numerous stocking fillers.
Another interesting point in the Robert Cialdini book I wrote about last month was that these delays and shortages are actually arranged as part of a cynical ploy by the toy-manufacturers when they are planning marketing over Christmas. It’s quite deliberate that parents order the fad toy for Christmas, it doesn’t arrive in time, they have to buy a replacement, then lo and behold in January fad-toy miraculously comes in stock – so parents have to buy it to keep their pre-Christmas promise.
Productivity In December?
For me, as just an average “one-(wo)man-band/ self employed freelancer”, losing December is a bit of a pain. I can’t really afford to lose a whole month of the year. Time or money-wise
Somehow the whole of December seems “lost” to any productive work – unless you’re in the retail industry, when you will have started your planning months beforehand and hopefully the tills are smoking. Err, unless all the shoppers are cannily just buying gift vouchers in anticipation of the January sales!
Here are some examples of the anomalies of the eleven month year.
Maybe you don’t even celebrate Christmas: I’ll start right away by remembering the fact that some of my readers would not normally celebrate Christmas if they weren’t exposed to it by others. What do they think? Perhaps they’re like a friend of mine from another religion who, when I gently broached the subject, just laughed and said “Oh, well I just love any excuse for a party”. Let’s face it – in the UK particularly – many of the so-called Christians celebrating Christmas have completely forgotten the religious message of the day and won’t set foot inside a Church over the whole period, let alone the year. Yet they’ll happily claim to be celebrating Christmas.
As a supplier: My largest offline client closes for two weeks in December – and the Friday before the closure is their Christmas lunch, so that’s effectively a four day week. The effect of this is that any project I’m doing for them virtually closes down – unless I’ve managed to plan ahead for enough work to cover me for what can be a quiet period work-wise.
Hmm, lowest income producing month coinciding with the highest expense month. Not a good combination.
As a marketer: The December lull can be a time for planning marketing over Christmas. Perhaps you can prepare your whole January “new start, motivational and goal setting marketing campaign” – if you can find time amid getting ready for your December festivities!
As a blogger: I plan to have a bit of a break. Some posts I’ll schedule ahead of time, just to keep a “presence” as I imagine the Google spiders don’t get a two week holiday and anything I write will be there long after Christmas has passed. Will people have time to read my articles as they’re published? Or perhaps they’ll have more time and I should be taking advantage of other people’s inactivity? What do other bloggers plan to do?
As a householder: Heaven help me if I need any work done by tradesmen, such as plumbers, over the semi-month of December – especially emergency work. Of course, “holiday rates” are a great way for free-lancers to cover their December income shortfall if your profession lends itself to emergency call-out rates. Mine doesn’t, as my clients are closed too.
As a service industry client: My younger son is in the final stages of selling his property. It’s dragged on and on already, but if he can’t exchange contracts and complete before all the professionals close for their two week break he’s faced with another minimum two-week delay, paying bills on a property he no longer has a use for.
As a shopper: Although I pick up gifts for people through the year, this tends to lull me into a false sense of security that I’ve “Done a lot of my Christmas shopping already”. Then as I start the “wrapathon” there’s the sinking realization that, buying six identical widgets from the garden center has barely scratched the surface. So the first half of December is a mad scramble trying to find “surprises to open on the day”, to top up the aforementioned gift vouchers (which are probably all that most people really want anyway).
As a family member: The chance to spend time together should be a time of happiness. Sadly it often turns into arguments and nit-picking from quarrels and boredom. If this starts to happen in your family, please spare a thought for those missing a loved one at Christmas.
A year ago some of us suspected it would be our last Christmas together, but a friend of mine had no idea that 2014 was the last she would have with her much-loved husband who died unexpectedly a few weeks later.
As a birthday girl: My dear Mum and Dad (above) had the lack of foresight to let me be born in December. I am lucky enough that I have family and friends scattered around the UK wanting to celebrate with me on various days in the first half of December.
That’s wonderful – but it’s all too squashed up and butting onto Christmas so both events are over in the one month. Luckily I have Mothering Sunday to look forward to in spring, but…. I do so envy those people whose birthdays are in the summer.
Can’t Beat Them? Join Them
The good news is that this year, I won’t be a lone grump trying to spin out my December work until my clients re-open.
My elder son from Spain and his family are coming to stay for about a month – starting from December 9th.
His Spanish bed and breakfast business suffers from a December lull too, caused by the cold weather. His loss is my gain.
So this year I’m celebrating the fact that my clients will be closed, leaving me plenty of time to spend with family, because Russ will be catching up with the extended family too.
Of course, that’s meant my usual December activities had to be pulled forward a month to November! Can’t leave all those gifts laying about unwrapped for inquisitive eyes and tiny fingers.
Welcome to the ten month year! But it’s a small price to pay for having them all with me.
Planning Marketing Over Christmas?
How do YOU cope with the eleven month year?
- Is the shrinking year a good thing – giving us more free time?
- Or a bad thing – piling on the stress and expenses?
- Do you throw caution to the wind and just pick up the pieces in January?
- Or have you been saving up work and money all year to fill the potential work void?
Let me know how you cope in the comments below, and if I don’t catch up with you until January – have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
To your success,
PS – if you enjoyed this post, please comment, like and share below, thanks!