5 ways to generate leads during the off-season
If you manage a seasonal business, what do you do in the off-season?
B. Experiment with new products or services
C. Do market research
D. Two or more of the above
Any of those choices is a good, constructive use of your time in the off-season. However, don't neglect one of the most important ways you can use those months: generating leads.
Your off-season is a perfect time to gear up your marketing efforts to put your business in a position for greater success when the peak season begins again. Your goal is twofold: 1) be sure customers from this year's peak season remember you next year and 2) attract new customers.
But be forewarned — some steps need to be taken during your busy season to maximize the effectiveness of your efforts. Here's a guide.
When you're busy
1. Grow your database. During your busy period, create a list of customers and new leads so you can stay in touch with them during your slow time. Be sure your website and social media accounts have plenty of calls to action where customers can subscribe to an email list or blog and find special offers for remaining loyal customers. Encourage customers to share and forward your content by including social sharing and "email to a friend" buttons.
2. Gather customer reviews. Detailed customer reviews and testimonials can play a prominent role in your off-season marketing. A 2015 survey about consumers' attitudes toward online reviews of local businesses reveals that 92 percent read online customer reviews and 80 percent trust them as much as personal recommendations if the reviews meet their requirements. You'll likely get more engaging, authentic reviews if you request them during your busy season, while your business is still fresh in customers' minds. You could ask customers to submit photos and videos from their experience with your business to create eye-catching marketing campaigns.
While it's slow
3. Stay in touch with customers and leads. Use the database and customer reviews you collected during your busy season for email marketing, blog posts, web pages and social media updates. Customers may not visit your physical location during the slow time, but they're still using mobile devices and social media, so make sure your business has a presence year-round. Run contests and polls, share new content and generate hype for the next busy season.
4. Put an off-season spin on marketing. Using email marketing, blogs and/or social media, deliver tips that might be useful for your customers during the off-season and get them thinking about your business. Provide early bird offers before peak season and sales or promotions at the end of it to extend your season. Offer off-season discounts or dream up "Christmas in July" type promotions to boost off-season sales. Amazon Prime Day in July 2016 was the online retailer's biggest sales day ever (bigger than Cyber Monday!).
5. Go where the season is. If your products are seasonal because they're weather-dependent, consider selling them in the southern hemisphere during the slow season here. Use paid search to target customers in a particular area. You don't pay unless people click the link, so there's plenty of flexibility to fit this tactic into your budget.
For more great ideas for growing your business, visit the California Bank & Trust Business Resource Center.[cite::171::cite] [cite::172::cite]