Guest Post by Isabella York
Keeping small businesses afloat in this economy is difficult enough, but for small businesses whose selling period is a specific time of year it can be even trickier. As is evidenced by many popular seasonal businesses, this is not an impossible feat. To keep your seasonal business current and in the minds of your customers even in the off season, here are a few key marketing tips:
- Converse, Converse, Converse
When your selling period has ended, your product is the furthest thing from your customers’ minds. The most important thing to do is to keep your products visible. This is not to say that you should hang up Christmas ornaments in the middle of July. Instead, create avenues for conversations with your customers. This serves a dual purpose: You find out what your customers think about your products (i.e. what they love, what they would change, etc.) at the same time you get your customers thinking about your products! While you can send out email surveys by the “byteload” to your mailing list, studies show that phone and face-to-face interviews are still the best ways to go. To make this conversation even more interesting, package it with a nice deal or courtesy discount. In addition, creating conversations with your customers leads to a stronger relationship with them and encourages them to recommend your company to friends.
- Encourage Referrals
According to global surveys and studies, referrals or word of mouth is still the best way to market your product. As consumers trust their peers more than corporations or companies, your path to a bigger demographic is through the clientele you already have. One way to generate word of mouth is to offer referral prizes or tokens for both parties during the off-season.
- Speak Up!
During the off-season, market yourself as an expert in the field you are selling. Give free webinars or speak at other venues that cater to your client base. The trick here is to be knowledgeable in the topic and related topics at hand without selling directly to the audience. By doing so, you not only present yourself as an expert whose opinion in the industry is considered gold, you also gain a few new customers along the way. If done tastefully, tactfully, and with care, these potential new customers may turn into customers. And presenting yourself as an expert should be easy, since it is your business!
- Get Chummy With Local Media
While social media is all the rage, local media is still an important and very potent tool in marketing. Pinpoint media in the area that have covered products similar to yours in the past, get in touch with them and offer your knowledge and services in providing information about anything related to your product. Establishing yourself as a willing expert to these outlets will increase the probability of being contacted when the journalists are given assignments for which your product is a perfect fit.
- Harness Social Media
While social media is not necessarily as powerful a means of getting the word out as other forms, it is still an easily accessible tool that should be taken advantage of. Establish a blog, Twitter account, Facebook page, or any other social networking account appropriate to your product. Be sure to keep your information up to date and to regularly communicate with your contacts, offering product announcements and deals. You can also use social media to your advantage by guest blogging, creating how- to videos, and offering other tutorials that relate to any product you offer.
Seasonal businesses can be quite a challenge to market during the off-season. However, with a little creativity, perseverance, and diligence in keeping your finger on the pulse, your product will be the first thing on any customer’s mind – whether you’re in season or not.
About the Guest Author:
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 Christmas Trees has catapulted this skill set to a new level.