Published on January 2nd, 2014 | by Yael Grauer0
How to Survive the Winter Marketing Slump
It’s not easy generating momentum and attention for your small business after the holidays: the sales are over, your customers are digging through overstuffed inboxes and seasonal messages and offers don’t really apply as well to January as they do to holiday shoppers or vacation seekers.
How do you keep your marketing efforts chugging along during the long and often slow months of winter? Start by looking at your marketing efforts through the eyes of your customers so you can address their ongoing needs, says business consultant Charlie Gilkey, author of “The Small Business Lifecycle: A Guide for Taking the Right Steps at the Right Time to Grow Your Small Business.”
You can also use the downtime to assess your work, plan for the year ahead and tackle more involved marketing campaigns your customers will really enjoy.
Timing is key
A big part of winning the post-holiday marketing battle is good timing, and that means really getting to know your what your customers are doing, and what they need, as they go through the post-holiday season. For example, if you market to customers who have just finished budgeting for the year ahead, you won’t want to spend as much time pitching them on big-ticket services so soon after New Year’s.
If you’re still learning your clients’ rhythms, you can look at which messages you have sent that didn’t get the results you expected and extrapolate.
“The main thing is understanding what your people are going through and what’s the conversation in their head—what they’re thinking about, what they’re doing,” Gilkey says. Few people get tired of content or offers that address their immediate challenges and goals.
Just as people are receptive to gift guides around the holidays, they may be receptive to other types of content afterwards, such a calendars, planners or winter-themed content.
Giving your services or products seasonal themes is a great option for some businesses, but harder for others, Gilkey says. An obvious example that some, but not all, small businesses can copy: chocolatiers sell Christmas candy, followed by Valentine’s candy and then Easter eggs.
Stay motivated with your marketing
Having some downtime can also be beneficial to your business overall.
“If your audience is laying low, you can talk about ways to stay motivated while you’re not active, or what to do during the post-holiday slump,” Gilkey says. Tap into your knowledge of the issues they’re going through to provide relevant suggestions that will help them at this time.
The slower months are an opportunity to shift from a focus on campaigns or upcoming events to longer-lived and more thoughtful content and messaging. A book retailer might create reading lists for customers. The fitness industry typically markets in January when people are thinking about New Year’s resolutions and working off the holiday pounds. But just because you don’t run a gym doesn’t mean you can’t be part of that customer conversation, says Gilkey. “They’ve got that energy [to exercise], so that’s the perfect time to join that conversation and tailor your marketing message so it actually engages and meets them where they are.”
Start planning ahead for the marketing slump by assessing which of your campaigns went well and which didn’t, and focusing on planning your content for the year to come.
This post contributed by guest author, Yael Grauer. Grauer is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor. Find her online at Yaelwrites.com.
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