Isabella York is back with a detailed guest post. This one is about Cyclical Marketing. It's an important thing to comprehend for anyone that owns a seasonal business.
Any business has to expect the ebb and flow in sales figures for their company each fiscal year. Even more so, a seasonal business's main sales happen for only about 1/6 of the year. As a marketing and media relations representative for an artificial Christmas tree company, I have experienced this fluctuation personally. Halloween costume shops expect an influx of customers from September to October. Swimwear sells like hotcakes before and during summer months, winter wear vendors gear up for the snowy season, and our company has learned our busy months start right after Halloween and last until Valentine's Day.
Finding strategies to keep your seasonal business active all year round takes a little bit of patience, a lot of creativity, and good planning, and at our company, we learned these things as we went along:
Plan A is good, but having a Plan B, C and D is better.
Keep your customer happy.
Keep your business visible.
Planning for the highs, lows, and the "Oh jeez, please get these units out of the warehouse,"
will help your seasonal business thrive. Compare your year-to-year sales, finding which
months are the slowest, when business increases and when the high season ends. Planning
the year (or longer) will help you survive slow sales and prepare you for the hot season.
Manage your financials so that you can spend a little more when you aren't making sale
quota and save during the rush. Always have backup plans for your business since things
don't ever go as planned. My husband jokes that I'm a Boy Scout, "Be Prepared."
One of the most basic tenets of any business is to keep the customer happy. This is even
more important for a seasonal business. Keep your customers engaged and happy when
dealing with your company or your product and they will come back time and time again.
Go the extra mile by giving them a little bit more after repeat purchases. I always try to
treat them like family, giving them what they want (within reason) and looking for ways to
make their experience better (not to mention mine and my staff's). By doing so, you make it
a beneficial experience for each side of the transaction.
Finding ways to market your product unique to your competition will put your seasonal
business in tip-top shape all year round. Break the mold and give your business a persona
that can last the entire year while maintaining its pertinence to your customer base. To
survive, Nordstrom's, the popular apparel department store conglomerate expanded from
being a shoe line to all kinds of items. Weight Watchers used to be a small, weight reduction
support group before expanding to a food product line. A small change or a big one, will
make your customer look at your business differently, and offer them more options when
doing business with you. Many hayrides opening in the Fall now feature a scary hayride in
addition to the traditional family ride. This quick fix targets a range of demographics, like
groups of young adults wanting a different experience or adventurous children with their
Stay foremost on customer's minds by interacting with them. Create a Facebook fan
page for easy interaction with past, present or potential customers. Send out a catalog
via email or snail mail for them to peruse during the off-season. These two strategies
take into consideration your reputation as a company, your customers' happiness and
their recommendation to others, whether online or in person, assuring you of continued
business. The off-season is also the perfect time to use your research skills and find out what
customers say about your business. If possible produce a polite rebuttal to negative
commentary and thank those who praise your products, customer service or any other
aspect of the business. Showing gratitude to good customers definitely helps business. I like
to check our online reviews and give a shout-out to customers I've interacted with in the
past, or bring their issues or complaints to a responsible party, making sure their experience
with us is always pleasant.
Every demographic loves a discount, and offering sales and coupons will assure you of
better sales figures during the other months of the year. If the high season has ended
and you still have stock left, offer large reductions in price, but not enough to lose profit.
Coupons are also a great way to advertise overstock, and there are multiple venues online
to do so. Again, put your research skills to good use and find ways to bring your product to
the customers at lower rates than before.
By thinking creatively you can fill your off-season with higher sales. Offering different types of bargains, reaching out to unique demographics and introducing new products during the slow season will all help your business succeed.
Isabella York has been in the business world her entire life. Having seen business cycles ebb and flow, she knows a thing or two about developing strategies for changing demands, however her job with a purveyor of Artificial Christmas Trees and Christmas Trees has catapulted this skill set to a new level.