Digital advertising plays a crucial role in driving sales during a business's peak season. Not only can a well-executed digital campaign encourage existing customers to buy, but it can also attract new consumers and help convert them to paying customers.
Digital campaigns help enhance your business's reputation and positioning in your market. Moreover, their analytics can help you optimize your campaign in real-time to meet and exceed your sales and marketing goals.
However, while it's vital to design and execute effective digital marketing campaigns during your busy season, it's just as critical to run ads during the off-season. Running smaller-scale digital ad campaigns during your slow periods helps you ramp up quickly when your peak season approaches, keep customers engaged and primed to purchase, and plan your marketing strategy more effectively.
You can dramatically improve your chances of achieving your sales goals by ramping up your digital marketing efforts approximately 30 to 60 days before your peak season. By informing consumers and past customers that you plan to open soon or have new offerings available, you can generate leads, lock-in presales, and build excitement and buzz.
You'll want to opt for a shorter ramp-up period (30+ days) for products that sell quickly and a longer ramp-up period (60+ days) for products that involve a longer consumer journey. For example, shortly before kayaking season starts, a swimwear company should start advertising its bathing suit inventory. Consumers decide which bathing suits to buy relatively quickly, usually using a few criteria such as fit, look, and price. Advertising swimsuits 30 days out from peak selling season can encourage consumers to purchase and even result in some initial impulse buys.
However, an outdoor gear company should start advertising kayaks early, as they are more expensive and have more points of differentiation. Enthusiasts will choose between sit-on-top, sit-in, and inflatable kayaks and consider different hull types, weight capacities, and dimensions. Unlike bathing suits, kayaks are not usually an impulse buy, so businesses can help guide consumers from consideration to purchase effectively utilizing educational digital content over the longer ramp-up period.
Pairing your early marketing efforts with promotional opportunities can be an excellent way to build excitement and generate revenue. You can offer discounts to customers who buy immediately, which can be a great way to lock in revenue and improve cash flow.
When your peak season ends, you want to keep customers engaged as well as prospect for leads. Fresh off an enjoyable summer or winter vacation, consumers will remember it year-round and look online for information about how to make next year's activities even better. You want them to look at your products and think of your brand when they do so.
You should maintain a blog with consistent updates that your consumers will find relevant and helpful. For example, a ski shop might use its blog during the off-season to do deep dives into ski vacation planning, current ski activities in other parts of the world, and ski maintenance, among other topics, to keep customers engaged. Send out emails to your customer base with blog content excerpts to drive them to the blog and encourage them to subscribe.
You'll also want to run a search engine marketing (SEM) campaign that will keep your brand in front of the consumer if they are looking during the off-season. Just because it isn’t your peak season doesn’t mean that there aren’t consumers ready to make a purchase. That’s one of the benefits of SEM — your ad is always there to be found whenever consumers are looking for your products or services, regardless of the season. And SEM campaigns only incur costs when someone clicks on your ad, which keeps your costs low during the off-season.
Offering off-season discounts to consumers can help you generate consistent income year-round. Doing so can be especially helpful with relatively low-volume, high-priced products, such as snowmobiles, which involve long consumer journeys.
Your off-season can be a huge asset, giving you the time to plan your marketing strategy effectively. When you maintain a digital ad presence year-round, you'll have a broader set of customer search and purchase data to work with. Evaluating that data can provide you with better insights into what messaging and content strategies work with your customers and prospects and help you ramp up more efficiently when peak season approaches.
Slow periods allow you to develop and test your ads and other marketing materials like brochures, mailers, and broadcast promos. During peak season, you'll be busy running the business and may not have time to do much more than making a few tweaks to your digital campaigns. Avoid the need to waste prime selling hours developing or overhauling ads by preparing and testing everything during the offseason.
You may also want to produce video content or secure photography for your website (including your blog) and social media. Fresh imagery will be very important when marketing for your next busy season, and it’s easier to get tasks like these accomplished during your slower season.
You can and should spend the majority of your digital ad dollars during your peak season to maximize revenue. But to do so most effectively, lay the groundwork for an effective sales season by marketing year-round. Keep customers engaged and excited through content marketing about the upcoming activities your products prepare them to enjoy. Position yourself at the top of their mind by running SEM campaigns year-round. And ramp up digital marketing activities gradually and strategically to meet or exceed all of your sales goals for your next peak season.
Karlie Mandigo is a Senior Digital Marketing consultant for Federated Digital Solutions. She has been leading the consulting team since 2017 and has developed a particular skillset that focuses on the automotive industry. Her passion for her career comes from the ability to cultivate trusting relationships with clients. She enjoys putting all the puzzle pieces together to create a strategy that will help achieve and exceed her client’s goals year over year. Karlie puts the work in with her clients and it shows as she knows and believes that true commitment starts AFTER the sale.