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Running a seasonal business can be tough for business owners. When a business doesn’t have a steady revenue stream all year long, the off-season is usually run very lean and spent preparing to maximize profits during the busy season.
To help seasonal business owners use their downtime in the off-season wisely and make the most out of their busy season, we’ve compiled a list of marketing strategies that will help seasonal businesses thrive.
Prepare your Seasonal Business Digital Marketing Campaigns in The Off-Season
There is a common misconception among business owners that digital marketing is something they should only invest in when their business is busy. This is not the case. The off-season is the perfect time to strategize and prepare your seasonal business digital marketing campaigns. Some digital marketing campaigns can take time to generate results, or require time to be invested before producing results. They can also require a significant amount of planning. A business’ slow season is when your business should get started.
Seasonal Business SEO Campaigns
For those of you that aren’t familiar with SEO, think of it as a set of optimizations and enhancements with the ultimate goal of having your website rank on higher in search results organically. SEO is a long term investment; as you build more equity, it starts to make greater returns, and it grows over time.
The more SEO work that is done to your website, the higher it will rank for targeted search terms that are related to your business. You can’t reach the top of search rankings overnight. Depending on your industry, it can be a long road to the top of Google search results.
With that in mind, the off-season is a great time to start a seasonal business SEO campaign. If you have a few months before your peak season begins, the campaign will have enough time to build momentum and your website has the chance to be ranking well in preparation for your busy season.
If you wait too long and start a seasonal business SEO campaign during your busy season, your peak season will pass before you start seeing significant results and an increase in web traffic from the campaign.
For seasonal businesses, investing in SEO at the right time is key. Don’t wait until it’s too late, get a head start while your business has some downtime and start ranking higher on Google so that when you are at your busiest, you can generate as many leads as possible and make the most out of your busy season.
Seasonal Business SEO is Content Driven
Although there are many different factors to be considered with an SEO campaign, SEO is very content driven. Google wants to see websites providing in-depth and informative content to users. During your busy season, it can be hard to find the time to write long form content that will give more value to your customers. The off-season is a great time to prepare content to implement a more in-depth content strategy.
Another thing to be mindful of is that it takes time for Google to crawl your website and fully index your content. This needs to happen before your website and blog posts appear in Google search results. The actual amount of time it takes has not been specified, but it can take a considerable amount of time to begin to rank well.
Seasonal Business SEO is Iterative and Ongoing
When you think of SEO, think of it as an iterative process and an ongoing campaign. If you stop investing in SEO, you won’t fall back in the search rankings immediately, but you will over time as competitors fine-tune their SEO strategies, and Google changes their search algorithms. If you’re a seasonal business, an ongoing SEO campaign is going to be essential to maintaining a strong presence on search engines. You should double down on your investment in the slower months and continue to create content passively when your business is in its busier months.
Seasonal Business PPC Advertising Campaigns
Think of PPC advertising (also known as SEM campaigns) as the paid version of SEO. You can run ads on different keywords to make your website more visible on different search terms.
When you run advertisements on different search terms, you will see results quickly as a link to your website will appear at the top of search results. However, you’ll be paying for every click that a user makes to visit your website from that advertisement. This can be expensive, but it can be well worth the investment if a search term has a lot of purchase intent and is able to capture your target audience.
PPC advertising during the off-season is something that is a bit more subjective when it comes to seasonal businesses. Depending on your business, spending money on ads, and ad management may or may not be worth the investment in the off-season, but it shouldn’t be completely off of your radar.
The off-season is the perfect time to strategize your seasonal business PPC campaigns for the upcoming busy season so that you are ready to simply switch on your ads when they are going to give you the best return on your investment.
If you’re busy and don’t have time to think about your marketing campaigns during your busy season, why waste weeks trying to optimize your seasonal business PPC campaigns when you’re more focused on trying to run your business and keep up with the demand? It’s much easier to spend the time preparing when you have a lighter workload.
When preparing for your peak season, identify the target audiences that you want to reach with your PPC campaigns. Your off-season is the perfect time to dial in your ad creative, messaging, landing pages, and all of the elements that are associated with a successful PPC advertising campaign. Tailoring your campaigns to the target audience you have identified is the best way to get results from your campaigns.
The time spent optimizing your PPC campaigns in the off-season will help you make more conversions with the campaigns when you launch them! That’s worth the time and effort all by itself.
Work on Your Seasonal Business Website During the Off-Season
SEO and PPC campaigns are great for driving traffic to your website, but what if your seasonal business website is the weakest link in that chain and isn’t promoting any conversions?
It’s time to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. How hard is it to book an appointment, make a purchase, contact you, or find out more about your business? If it’s difficult for a user to find what they are looking for, they are more likely to give up and move on to one of your competitors.
When you are experiencing less traffic in your off-season, it’s a great time to make improvements to your website. A well-designed website makes a big difference when it comes to receiving conversions and generating more leads for your business. If there is anything you can do to improve your conversion rates, it’s essential to do so before your busy season begins. If your website isn’t up to par, you will be losing potential leads and leaving money on the table.
Seasonal Business Social Media Campaigns
Although your business may be seasonal, social media isn’t! It’s important to maintain a strong social media presence throughout your off-season to ensure you stay “top of mind” with your customers.
Think of it this way, even if your business only operates during the summer and fall, you will want your customers to remember you when it comes time to make a purchase. Even if you aren’t operating during the off-season, you can repurpose old content from your busy season and continue to post it in the off-season for your seasonal business social media campaign.
For example, golf courses only operate when the ground has thawed, and the weather is nice enough to golf. A golf course could continue to post about the new items in their pro shop, features on the course, and anything else relating to the club over the winter. Although golfers and club members may not be golfing at that particular time, it’ll keep them thinking about the upcoming golf season and any new golf clubs they may want to buy. This is exactly what we want to achieve with an off-season social marketing campaign.
For customers that may be researching different service providers, seeing recent activity on social media is critical. If you came across a social media page that hadn’t had any posts in months, most consumers would begin to wonder if the business is still open.
Posting regularly and updating seasonal business social media accounts is an integral part of customer consideration in this day and age. Keep posting consistently, even if you only have enough content to make one post per week. This is your opportunity to remain top of mind with your customers, and build hype for your peak season. Use it to your advantage!
Be Strategic with Your Off-Season Campaigns
Just because it’s your off-season doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thinking about digital marketing! If your competitors are taking a break during the off-season, this is your chance to pounce and capitalize on the opportunity to get ahead of them. If you spend your off-season improving your site content, SEO, PPC campaigns, and strategically using social media, you’ll be ranking higher than your competitors, and you’ll be the first business customers think about when your peak season rolls around.
Don’t take away from the most profitable time of year for your business to iron out the wrinkles and straighten out your digital marketing campaigns. The off-season is a great time to ensure you are completely prepared for the busy season to come. Make sure you are well prepared for the upcoming busy season so that you can capture and convert as many leads as possible and reap the rewards of your off-season marketing efforts.
Still Stuck? Here are Some Great Off-Season Campaign Ideas
A great way to generate leads throughout the off-season and prepare yourself for the busy season is to create a well thought out off-season marketing strategy. Having a game plan in place to generate more leads while your business is slow and promote early payments, pre-orders/pre-sales or build excitement for your busy season can make the difference between a seasonal business’ survival or having to shut down for good. We’ve worked with many seasonal businesses in the past and have created effective seasonal marketing campaigns to help them continue to thrive even when their regular business slows down.
Offer Off-Season Specials
One great way to generate more business in the off-season is to create a timely special. If no one is using your service or purchasing your product because it is out of season, there are still ways to entice customers and businesses to make a purchase.
Off-season specials are a great way to give your target audience the incentive they need to make a purchase. If you run a bike shop that specializes in cruisers and commuter bikes, your business will likely slow down in the winter time as it is too cold or snowy for people to ride their bikes outside.
To combat this, the shop could offer a 20% off tune-up special or a discount on last year’s bikes they have for sale to clear out their inventory in preparation of the upcoming season. By offering a discount on your product or service when the demand is low, you can find a customer that is willing to pay a discounted rate for your offering at that particular time.
Early Bird Specials
Early bird specials are a great way to receive payments for your product or service before your busy season begins. A good example of this would be a ski hill like Castle Mountain offering an early bird special on season passes. They have little to no operating income in the summer and fall as their operating season mainly consists of the winter and spring months.
To generate some off-season revenue, they offer early bird specials on seasons passes in the late spring, summer and fall. Customers that purchase those passes early often receive a 30-40% discount over the cost of a regular season pass. Early bird passes go for around $800 vs. the regular price for $1200 at most resorts. To create some urgency for the sale and further incentivize it, resorts normally increase their prices incrementally as time goes on as well.
The discount for someone that would visit a ski hill regularly makes purchasing a pass in advance well worth the money. This is a great way to generate revenue in advance of the actual operating season.
Hold a Giveaway or Contest
People may not want to go bungee jumping during the middle of winter in -30, but they may want to win a free jumping session for later on! It’s a great way to build some excitement for people that will actually want to go bungee jumping in the spring, summer, and fall, and you can leverage the contest to build an email database to contact people all year long.
Given that everyone will need to fill out a form or take an action to enter a contest, you can use the information that they give you to add them to a customer database or a CRM. You can then send those people emails and market your business to them if they opt-in, so that they are more likely to make a purchase during your regular season. Contests are a great way to generate leads for the future.
Find a Way to Repurpose Your Core Offering
Another great way to keep businesses afloat in the slow season is to find a way to use your core offering in other unique ways. Take a look at ski resorts, they offer sightseeing, hiking, and lift access mountain biking in the off-season. Although these activities may not be as popular or profitable as skiing and snowboarding, they slow the rate of loss and generate some revenue for resorts in the off-season. If you can find a way to repurpose what you do to generate business and cover your overhead, your business will be much more prosperous.
Think of your own business. How could your repurpose an asset, alter your offering, or create something new with your core competencies to generate revenue during the off-season? As a business owner, you need to be agile and able to adapt to changing marketing conditions. This is a part of it!
That’s a Wrap!
Well, there you have it! We’ve outlined the best digital marketing strategies we have found for seasonal businesses. The main concepts to remember are that it takes time to build momentum and see results from SEO campaigns, SEO is ongoing and iterative, PPC campaigns should be strategized in the off-season and executed during your peak season, your website needs to be optimized for conversions, and social media doesn’t have an off-season.
If you keep all of this in mind and make the right investment in digital marketing for your seasonal business, you will be able to see great results and generate leads from your digital marketing campaigns. As always, if you need help with strategizing or executing any of your digital marketing campaigns, Konstruct is here to help.