For many seasonal businesses, the peak season is either just ending or just beginning. As summer comes to a bittersweet end, the chaotic holiday months loom ahead and the need for a business plan of action becomes paramount for seasonal good and service providers. Facilitating that growth during every season of your business cycle can determine how well you will or will not perform in the years to come. How you choose to monetize and grow your seasonal business before, during, and after the peak cycle has the potential to make or break your business, and no one wants to get phased out because they didn't adequately prepare. "We hold in-person regional trainings throughout the year to keep our franchisees engaged," Debbie Fiorino, Senior Vice President of Dream Vacations/CruiseOne says. "Despite having a peak season, we maintain a year-long marketing and education strategy to keep our franchisees' business on a continuous path of growth and development."
The nature of seasonal businesses is challenging but rewarding, and there are so many opportunities each year to get creative with your business strategy. Wherever your business is at in the cycle, consider these marketing tips for before, during, and after your peak season.
- Develop a blog.
One of the surest ways to maintain relevance as a seasonal business is by having a blog. On it, you can publish content that has year round utility for users and draws traffic to your website. By amassing that following during your off months, you'll have a built-in audience for your "on" months. Try populating a blog with tips, tricks, recipes, ideas, or anything that's relevant within your industry so users can recognize you as a trustworthy source of information. And as an added plus, the regular production of unique content will improve your site from an SEO standpoint.
- Harp on pre-seasonal advertising and promotion.
This works especially well for winter-oriented businesses focused on holidays that prompt shopping, such as Christmas or Hanukkah. Starting in September, the internet comes alive with holiday fanatics who are already counting down the days to December. On top of that, a huge number of adults start their holiday shopping as early as October to space out their purchases. If your business peaks during these holiday months, start promoting deals, products, services, and ideas to reach those early shoppers. Facebook ads and other social media platforms offer advertisements for an affordable price, and it will reach a wide audience of consumers.
- Partner with a charity.
Nothing encourages customers to make a purchase like adding a charitable element. Giving back is a marketing strategy that not only reflects favorably on your brand, but compels people to support a cause by giving you their business. It can also double your promotional efforts, because the charity will likely encourage its donor base to choose your business.
- Hype up your busy season with social media campaigns.
As long as your business is in its busy season, you might as well squeeze as much publicity from the extra traffic as you can. Creating a hashtag to trend your posts or hosting a photo contest encourages customers to interact with you brand past the purchase. Supplementing such campaigns with prizes and giveaways adds incentive to participate, and you can essentially market your most successful season at little to no cost.
- Revamp and evolve your goods and services.
After your peak season is the perfect time to take an inventory of your brand's performance and offers. To show your commitment to improvement and find new ways to grow, try sending out surveys or getting customer feedback. After the peak season is a good time to start exploring new revenue possibilities that could further evolve the range of your goods and services. For example, if you own a restaurant in a tourist town, expand into a catering service during the off-season when fewer people are traveling. Finding ways to subsidize your seasonal business will open doors to have a more consistent cash flow throughout the year.
- Get creative about staying in touch with your contact list.
Reminding your existing and previous clients that you're still there during the off season is a no brainer, but how you remind has plenty of opportunities to get creative. If you send your client/email list a monthly newsletter, try and add something interesting or of significant value. For example, if you're a pool company that's in the off season, send your clients tips on pool care for the winter. Or if you're a winter business, use off season time for business volunteering and send pictures to your consumer base. Finding unique ways to communicate and stay in contact will sustain customer intrigue and set your business up for seasonal success.