In our first blog of the year, Business Clan’s marketing team explain how using the seasons can help to raise your business’s profile, increase brand awareness and remind existing and potential customers why they should invest in your services or products.
Welcome to 2020! If you’re involved in running a business, the new year is the perfect time to review your marketing strategy and think about trying some new ideas. Seasonal marketing is one option to consider: a strategic seasonal marketing plan can be either stand-alone or developed to integrate with your existing strategy. You’ll need to do some careful planning in advance but it’s a tried and tested approach that can work really well for all kinds of businesses if executed thoughtfully.
What is seasonal marketing?
Seasonal marketing is marketing products or services at certain points of the year. Whether your customers are consumers or other businesses, their buying behaviours may change over time, but at certain times of the year, they will conform to mark special holidays, events and business critical dates, for example, Easter, Halloween or the end of the tax year.
However, seasonal marketing doesn’t have to coincide with an ‘official’ event. Many businesses will flourish at certain points in the year and struggle at others: when those highs and lows occur will vary depending on the type of business you run. The better you understand the sales cycle of your individual business, the more likely you are to make seasonal campaigns and holiday promotions work for you.
Top tips to plan a successful seasonal marketing campaign for your business
- Before you start: think about your business, audiences, key messages and your sales and marketing ‘year’. No two businesses will be exactly the same. If you are an estate agent for example, your highs and lows will be very different from a personal trainer or a children’s nursery or a photography studio.
- Use a marketing calendar to organise your various marketing activities and plans. The calendar can double as a working document and be continuously revised and updated over the year. A quick search online will reveal plenty of free templates and examples. Choose one that you feel comfortable with and start filling it in, highlighting any dates that are critical for your business and ideas you may have for seasonal promotions.
- For consumer-facing businesses there are a multitude of themes and seasonal opportunities you can use to develop your plans. Here are just a few examples – choose the ones you think will appeal most to your specific customer base and think creatively about how to get the best out of them:
- New year, fresh start: a great opportunity to encourage your clients to take out a subscription or sign up to your mailing list.
- Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day: it’s all about love! This is the time to buy flowers and cards, book a table at a favourite restaurant or arrange a day out for that special person in your life.
- Black Friday and Cyber Monday: depending on the nature of your business, these two days can be a blessing or a curse! The weekend following Thanksgiving in the United States is now firmly established across the world as the start of the Christmas shopping season, with businesses offering a host of money-off deals and special promotions. Before you follow the crowd and plunge in with your own sale or special offer, think carefully about how your business might benefit and don’t be scared of doing something different (or even doing nothing at all) if you think that will work better for you. Remember that flash sales can work throughout the year, for example during seasonal slumps, so you don’t have to confine activity to this one weekend.
- Awareness days / weeks: especially useful if you are running a charity or promoting a cause. Most of us know about Dry January, but did you know that in 2020, 3-5 February is National Apprenticeship Week and 27 March is Wear a Hat Day? Or that 27 April is the start of National Gardening Week? There are lots of lists online, but this is a good one to try.
- Feel-good festivals: there are so many! Christmas, Diwali, Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, Easter, Halloween … the list goes on. Depending on the type of business you are in, these are all good opportunities to solve your clients’ shopping dilemmas.
- If your clients are mostly other businesses, seasonal marketing campaigns are less about the holidays and more about timing your communications to coincide with the business-critical dates in their financial year.
- If your clients are mostly SMEs, you will be familiar with their sales cycles and know, for example, which times of year their products or services will be most in demand. Focus on how you can help them to plan ahead for these busy periods. Make sure you keep them up-to-date with the latest lead or delivery times and encourage them to allow enough time to promote your product or service to their customers. They will really appreciate the value you add to their business!
- Charitable donations are tax free, so if you are a charity or a community interest company, the end of the tax year is a good time to approach corporate donors.
- Choose the right channels: as your seasonal marketing plans start to take shape, you’ll need to consider which communication channels will work best for your campaign. How do your clients prefer to hear from you? Are they addicted to their Twitter feed, or are they more likely to open an email, click on a Facebook ad or read a story about your business in their local press?
Seasonal marketing campaigns can be really effective for all types of businesses. Done well, they can hijack your clients’ buying behaviours and inspire them to take action. If you’re not sure how to use the seasons to benefit your business, or if you haven’t got time to plan and execute your campaign yourself, Business Clan’s marketing experts can help.
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