With March right around the corner (and an early spring, at least according to Punxsutawney Phil’s calculations), marketers are already readying for summer as they gear up for what’s to come.
The inevitable seasonal changes and their accompanying buying patterns bring about challenges for all marketers, particularly ones who operate within industries that are dependent upon spikes in sales during their “peak” season (think swimsuit makers, landscaping services and ski resorts). While products and services in these categories basically sell themselves when demand is high, things can quickly start to look bleak once the buying frenzy comes to an end.
However, there are still ways to stand out once business starts to taper and your marketing team is left waiting for the next busy season or period to pick up. After all, just because sales start to slow down doesn’t necessarily mean that your marketing has to reflect that.
Planning is especially important for marketers who need to capitalize on a particular season or time of year, and determining how to leverage different marketing tools to get the most bang for your buck is crucial.
For instance, Pinterest cites June through October as the “peak advertising opportunity” window for marketers who are looking to promote Halloween-related content, according to the site’s 2019 seasonal insights report. Considering there are a whopping 933 million Halloween-related Pins saved each year, marketers need to ensure that their fall and Halloween content is already up and ready on Pinterest by the time summer kicks off.
When it comes to planning, it’s also wise for marketers to think through different scenarios that could affect seasonal messaging; for example, a patio furniture company might want to curb spring marketing spend if the weather is still unseasonably cold and invest that money elsewhere. Or, if the weather is proving to be unpredictable, try and use this to your advantage: Lipton Ice Tea did this a few years back with an innovative Snapchat campaign that only targeted consumers when temperatures reached 79 degrees.
Ben & Jerry’s has made a sort of tradition out of launching new ice cream flavors each January, i.e. the coldest month of the year. While it might seem counterintuitive, the Vermont-based ice cream maker is well aware that it’s an unconventional tactic, which is why it continues to do so year after year. By launching new flavors in the winter, Ben & Jerry’s is able to pique interest and draw attention to itself (not to mention garner sales) during a time when people are normally opting for warmer treats.
While this might not be a viable strategy for all brands, it’s still worth thinking about what flipping the script can do and how it can be a differentiating factor in a sea of sameness. Rather than focusing on making a splash during your industry’s prime months, think about ways that your marketing efforts could potentially make an even bigger splash when consumers least expect it.
Instead of pushing products during off-season months, use that time to shift your strategy and concentrate on an aspect of your brand that might not be so apparent during the rest of the year. These quieter months could be an opportune time to highlight a longstanding partnership with a charity or provide updates on an interesting CSR initiative. As consumers increasingly place weight on what companies are doing for the greater good, using this “downtime” to focus on spreading the word about your philanthropic efforts – whether through an event, social media or a branded content series – can help keep your brand name top of mind all year long.
Even if people don’t have an immediate need for your product or service, the cyclical nature of seasonal businesses means they will eventually – so use this time to identify ways that your brand can use its expertise to provide consumers with useful information.
Take TurboTax, a tax preparation software platform that in recent years has kicked off tax season with a glitzy Super Bowl spot. Once tax season ends, though, TurboTax still continually finds ways to inform and educate its target audience. For example, it kicked off LGBT Pride Month last June with a blog post that outlines tax tips for same-sex couples, and celebrated Halloween with a “10 Reasons Why Taxes Aren’t Scary” article.
Not only can content like this be repurposed and updated year after year, but it helps people get answers to questions that they’ll likely be searching for at some point or another – and positions your brand as a go-to trusted source.