A not-so-curious thing happened after I sent out an email to my subscribers this week.
There were immediately dozens of automated responses from email bots informing me that the person I'm trying to reach will be out on vacation, but will get back to me soon. Given that the final two weeks of the summer tend to be when lots of people get in a final break before school starts, I expected this type of vacation auto-responder. But this weekend I started asking myself a question about something even more curious.
If everyone is on vacation, why am I getting so few out of office email responses?
The truth is, we may all be overestimating just how many people will be out of the office this August. And if you happen to be an entrepreneur doing the time honored dance of trying to take a mini vacation during what you think is a "slow time" in your business, then going on vacation now may seem like a tempting opportunity. Resist the temptation. There are few reasons that you might want to consider staying in town and working for these last two weeks of August.
1. Schedules are more open. Among lobbyists in Washington, DC, there is a rush to try and set up meetings with influencers during this slower time. Not only are these two weeks slower, but the gatekeepers (such as secretaries or office administrators) are not on high alert, and the "lame ducks" who only have a short time left in their roles may taking meetings with people they usually wouldn't. The same thing is about to happen in the last two weeks of August for every business. Not only do people tend to have fewer meetings and less jam packed days, but the lack of people paid to keep you away can create openings to speak directly to influencers you normally couldn't reach—that is, if you're in town to take advantage of the opportunity.
2. Inboxes are less cluttered. How many emails do you get in a typical day? Whether it's 100 or 1,000, chances are you'll be getting fewer of them in these next two weeks. As a result, you're probably more likely to look at emails that you may not ordinarily open. In addition, our always-on relationships with our devices have created a reflexive need to check for messages even when we know we shouldn't. And when there aren't any, often you have the guilty moment of delight in getting something new, even if it happens to be a message selling something. Thanks to our habitual "checking in" on devices even while on vacation, you can take advantage of the fact that there's a lot less competition to make it into your prospect's inbox.
3. Some travelers avoid families. As a business traveler, I can tell you that I rarely accept invitations to travel during these last two weeks. The reason? Too many first-time and family travelers causing delays thanks to their inexperience with traveling. Single people and child-free couples tend to NOT go on vacation this week because it's the busiest time for people who have kids and want to squeeze in that last trip to the beach before school starts. That means, depending on your industry, you might be more likely to find younger or unmarried people in the office ... which could be a goldmine if that's the target market for your product or service.
4. People are playing educational catchup. Yes, I admit I am one of those people who brings a good book to the beach—and often it's a business book. In our busy lives, often reading for pleasure or professional education gets left behind. It's amazing how often I will speak with someone who purchased a book of mine several years ago, and is hesitant to admit that they only now got around to reading it. It's okay. Even we authors do the same thing. It sometimes takes a while for a book to make it off your bookshelf and into your hands (or onto your device) for reading. But this week is one of those times when people do take time to catch up on learning, education and intellectual stimulation, which may be very important to consider for your business if you happen to do some type of publishing, or you happen to use content marketing frequently for professional education purposes.
5. Devices help pass dead time. One of the inevitable side effects of traveling is the delays associated with it. Our devices have trained us to use them as a way to pass wasted time during those delays. Ever wonder how people used to stand in line or get stuck at an airport without a touchscreen phone to entertain them? Me too. But these travel delays and dead time can also be valuable for your business, because they are moments when your prospects may be more likely to engage with content you have produced, or open that email they archived days ago with a mental promise to return to at some point. Travel is filled with dead time, all of which could create a perfect opportunity for your brand to fill it in creative ways.
Of course, the last thing I would want to tell you is to not take time out with your family (or alone!) to give yourself a break. Small-business owners work hard, and certainly deserve a vacation. All I'm saying is, you might want to reconsider when you go.
I hear the beach is still lovely in September too.
Rohit Bhargava is the founder of the Influential Marketing Group and the bestselling author of four marketing books. He has dedicated his career to helping companies act and communicate in human ways. For the past five years, he has worked through the usual holiday periods and usually takes vacations with his family in February.
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