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Seasonality affects many industries. Whilst this is simply part of the nature of these markets, it is important that these seasons are properly utilized to ensure the sustainability of the business throughout the year.
There are several ways this downtime can be used strategically to maximize revenue. Let’s discuss some strategies below:
ride the wave
While some companies have more obvious seasonal trends than others, many experience periods of the year when business is known to be quieter for a variety of reasons. For example, the cruise industry has perhaps one of the most obvious seasonal trends. So much so that they coined a term for it: wave season. Whether you’re in travel, education, or telecom, slowdowns are inevitable. It matters what you do with them.
While your customers may not be shopping at high rates during the off-season, that doesn’t mean they aren’t still researching information and checking out available buying opportunities during this time. If you don’t contact them during this time, by the time the wave season starts it will be too late.
Success in seasonal industries works through the waterfall effect. If you fill the jar now, it will overflow when you need it. However, if you sit back and do nothing, or scale back your marketing efforts when sales aren’t happening, your waterfall has no chance of reaching the required level.
Also see: 5 Ideas to Stay Busy During the Slow Season
Push now, be successful later
During slow seasons, it’s important to keep bringing content to market. Drip campaigns allow you to continually showcase your brand to those who will eventually become your customers. They might be snuggled up in front of a roaring fire in the dead of winter, but an ad for an incredible cruise vacation is the perfect way to get them thinking about what might happen when the weather warms up. Gradual but steady exposure to your brand helps build their interest up to the point of purchase.
If you’re marketing outside of wave season, take advantage of the time of year you’re in to boost sales — think Christmas market coupons or even Halloween specials. Unique and interesting offers that align with your customers’ current experience while helping them plan for future purchases work especially well to maximize future revenue. A secured customer now, even at a discounted rate, is far better than clinging to the hope that they will deal with you at full price in the future.
Also see: How to turn your slow months into your best months
lay the foundation
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) takes time to filter, so it makes perfect sense to take advantage of the slower time of year to kickstart your SEO campaigns. Combine this with limited-time offers to encourage customers to make unusual purchases. Even if they don’t bite it, your brand is on their mind and you might see them again in wave season.
During this time, don’t neglect your existing customer database as an important source of future leads. Considering these customers have bought from your business in the past, they’re probably the most qualified leads you’ll have access to during your off-season. Targeting these individuals with carefully curated offers can help trigger upgrades and return orders. While you’re at it, referral programs will work equally well with this group of customers. They’ve (hopefully) already had a good experience with your business, so why not let them recommend their friends and family and get discounts or access to exclusive offers in return?
Your long-term ROI must be the yardstick you use to decide whether to increase or decrease spending, not immediate sales. While it may be tempting to cut marketing budgets during slow seasons, you will do more harm than good to your business in the long run.
See also: 4 tips for managing cash flow in a seasonal business
On the trail of the waves
While it’s a smart move to keep marketing spend going during the off-season, if that budget and its campaigns aren’t tracked correctly, you may still be wasting your efforts and money. The only way to really understand which avenues are driving the ROI you’re seeing six months from now is to holistically map out the channels that drove those sales.
As long as you have a very strict tracking mechanism and attribution, that alone will determine how you spend and how far you go – because marketing dollars today don’t necessarily mean a booking, a sale or a conversion, especially if your industry is seasonal. Conversion can happen in six months, but if you can’t track that six-month window, you’re running blind anyway.
The key to successfully navigating seasonal industries is intelligent spending through validated data from holistic attribution. Using the data collected during the wave season to guide marketing during downturns is critical to sustained success in these industries.