Many businesses perform best during certain seasons. Companies that sell Christmas merchandise see the bulk of their profits in the last couple of months of the year, while businesses that sell swimwear earn the most during the spring and summer months.
Outside these periods, sales will be slow and profits will be small. However, these slow periods provide business owners and marketing staff the perfect time to plan, perfect, and implement their marketing strategies. It may seem counterintuitive, but off-season marketing can position you for considerable sales success during your business' peak season.
When you're marketing off-season, your primary focus shouldn’t be on direct sales. While your competition sits it out, use the off-season to expand your brand awareness and grow your customer base. When you market during the off-season, you'll face less competition for seasonal keywords, allowing you to spend less on effective digital ads.
Furthermore, by advertising for months, you'll help consumers recall your brand more swiftly than those of your competition. As you advertise, you'll naturally identify leads. By nurturing this base of leads during the off-season, you'll be ready to convert them to paying customers as soon as peak season arrives.
So how do you market effectively during the off-season? It's a good question and important to understand how to do so, especially if your peak season marketing efforts primarily involve direct sales. These three marketing strategies are essential to any off-season marketing plan.
Despite your best-laid marketing and selling plans, things get hectic when peak season hits. Without fail, the time you thought you would have to implement bold new marketing efforts will slip away. If during the middle of peak season, you have a eureka moment and identify a new potential consumer segment for your products, chances are you won't have the time to take advantage of it. When you're running the business during the busy season, who has time to dig deep into marketing research and refine your marketing and ad strategies to appeal to a new demographic?
That's where off-season marketing comes in. Work with your marketing team or marketing partner to identify potential customer segments you've missed thus far. Develop a new target persona or refine your existing one to incorporate newfound customer insights. Then refine your promotional and marketing strategies and messaging accordingly.
During the off-season, you also have more time to nurture leads. Regular communication, like through email newsletters, can help you reinforce your brand, building excitement among your leads and priming them for conversion as soon as peak season hits.
By providing regular valuable content to your target audience, you build trust and credibility, encouraging them to come to you. Keeping a regularly updated blog and regular social media postings are incredibly helpful in this regard.
Email newsletters can also help your customers recall your brand more easily. Email drip campaigns, which send out automated emails that are either timed or triggered by customer actions, will also help immensely. Use the off-season to set up specific emails that go out at least once a month, and well as emails designed to guide them further along the buyer's journey. For example, a consumer may receive your email once a month or twice a week. However, when they fill out a form to access gated content, they receive an email with access to the gated content and a form allowing them to place a pre-order.
Keep in mind that consumers research seasonal products year-round, regardless of when they buy them. If you're consistently providing accurate and relevant content that helps educate and inform consumers about your product category, many will seek your brand out. You'll then be able to guide others to your brand more effectively.
You can also use your off-season time reaching out to past customers. With search engine marketing(SEM) and social media ads, you can encourage former consumers to reconnect with your brand and prepare them to buy when your products are in season.
You can also experiment with effective keyword pairings, images, and videos to develop the most compelling messages to your target persona, and avoid sending out irrelevant ads. When you've produced your best creative, you can publish them, measure your impact, and refine as dynamics change. That way, you'll save money on seasonal keywords, as fewer businesses will be buying them.
Use this time to strengthen your online customer service operation. By answering product questions on your social media channels, you can position your business as one that cares about its customers. Also, explore how whether you can cross-train existing in-person or phone-based customer service staff to address online inquiries, ensuring you provide responsive and effective customer service year-round.
Don't let another off-season go to waste. Use your time wisely by marketing to past and current customers and reaching out to new consumer segments. Build awareness of your brand, identify and cultivate new leads, and strengthen your customer service operations by marketing your business online during the off-season. If you've do these right, be prepared for a surge in interest and sales during your next peak season.
Brittney Skoczylas is a Digital Marketing Consultant for Federated Digital Solutions. Her passion is helping to generate measurable results for her clients by creating customized & targeted marketing strategies that will engage a consumer wherever they are in the buying journey. Brittney’s #1 focus is to help local businesses improve their digital marketing footprint.