Don't let the season slow down your business growth. Check out these off-season small business marketing strategies.
Though your product might sometimes be out of season, marketing your business never is.
Marketing can present unique challenges for small businesses and entrepreneurs who specialize in offering seasonal products or services. For those businesses, having a year-round, seasonal marketing strategy is critical to spurring demand—in busy times as well as slow.
Here are eight ways to grow your business in the off-season.
1. Consider Expanding Your Product Line
While your main product or service may not be in need, why not think about a tangential offering? Some businesses offer t-shirts, hats or other merchandise with their logo that can be sold year-round.
Other examples include:
- A lawn care service could offer snow removal services in the winter.
- An accountant who specializes in tax preparation could offer bookkeeping services year-round.
- A preschool could offer summer daycare or summer camp programs.
- An ice cream shop could sell hot drinks in the winter.
2. Focus on Digital Marketing During the Off Months
If the off-season gives you more time to devote to the infrastructure of your business, use that time to ensure you’re ready to hit the ground running when your season kicks in again. Marketing initiatives such as ramping up your social media, refining your web site, putting an email program in place, working on search engine optimization, creating content for your blog, or launching a newsletter can all pay off year-round.
Also, consider that people do research at all times of the year, even for seasonal products and services. For example, someone might be researching sunscreen in the winter if they’re planning a trip to a warmer climate.
You can also use this time to plan marketing for the upcoming season and look for any help you might need, be it freelancers, software, and so on.
3. Offer Discounts if Customers Buy During the Off-Season
Yes, your product or service may not be in season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plant the seed for people to buy in advance. If you start selling even before the season hits, some buyers may be ready to purchase, especially if you include a discount or special deal. For example, forward-thinking consumers might buy snow tires before winter if they’re on sale.
Another way to keep your sales up is to upsell current customers. Your clients may be more likely to add services to what they’re already paying for, or they may be open to cross-sells—products that complement what they’ve purchased. For example, someone who buys a digital camera may need a camera case or memory card.
4. Survey Current Customers and Ask for Referrals
One of the best ways to gather input on how to potentially expand your business is to ask your current customers. There could be ways to help them that you may not have thought of. Use the off-season as an opportunity to get their feedback on your products and services. Maybe they know of others who could benefit from your offerings. You might also ask for referrals to new potential customers, in exchange for a discount.
5. Experiment with Creativity
Slower times provide the ideal opportunity to consider new ways in which your product or service might be used beyond the season in which it’s most popular.
For example, while a costume shop might be busiest in the fall with Halloween shoppers, they might be able to market their products at other times of the year as people dress up for various occasions—themed birthday parties, fundraisers and other events.
6. Double Down on Content
More people than ever are doing research online before they buy, so make sure your site is populated with content to help them along their buyer's journey. In fact, 81% of retail shoppers conduct online research before buying. Many times, buyers have done most of their research before contacting you to make a purchase. If you’re ready to meet them where they are (which is online), you’ll be a step ahead of the competition.
7. Plan a Giveaway or Contest
To keep customers and prospects engaged during the off months, think about planning a giveaway or contest. It could be about trivia associated with your industry. Or you could ask your audience to submit photos of themselves using your product and choose one each month to win a prize. Awards to winners could be a discount on your services or a package of your products.
8. Target a Different Geographic Region
With more consumers than ever shopping and buying online, if you’re able to ship your product or offer your services anywhere, why not expand your business to other geographic regions?
For example, if you’re a business based in the northeast that sells items for outdoor living, maybe you can expand to market your offerings in the south during the colder months.
Marketing Your Seasonal Business is a Year-Round Job
Even though marketing a seasonal business can be challenging, if you work at it year-round, those efforts can pay off. Get creative and remember that there’s no limit to the number of marketing tactics you can implement. Do your research before you begin a new initiative to consider which tactics may work best for you—and evaluate the results to determine which efforts are bringing you the best returns.