Is your business experiencing the post holiday season blues? Hospitality, retail, and a variety of other industries drudge through a sluggish first quarter of each new year. Some resign to this seasonal trend, but coming out of a recession few SMBs can afford to do so any longer.
The good news is that there is a way to beat the seasonal slump through more aggressive digital marketing. But throwing money at it alone won’t do the job. Instead you need to use your online marketing to create buzz at a time of the year that is typically a dud for consumer activity. Here’s how to make that happen.
3 Steps to Creating a Buzz for Your Seasonal Business Through Smarter Digital Marketing
Step 1. Create a Hype Calendar
Consumers respond well to events. Give them a reason to get excited and they will start spending. They put their wallets away on January 2nd not necessarily because they are coming out of the annual shopping season and have exhausted their financial coffers, but because many brands cease creating a sense of urgency.
What creates urgency? Deadlines. When consumers have an important event date to focus on they will plan to spend accordingly. So what can you do? Create a calendar of events to create promotions and generate hype.
These event dates are not arbitrary. No matter the time of the year there is something on the docket. In Canada Family Day is celebrated on the 3rd Monday of February. Any business that provides products/services to family households has a great reason to create a promotion. Once February has passed the calendar fills up quickly, including spring break and a variety of statutory holidays that you can wrap an offer around.
Can’t wait for one of them to arrive? Do certain statutory holidays not apply to your target market? Fret not, because there are national and international days of the year that you may not know about, ones that can be leveraged for your seasonal marketing goals. There are worldwide events, festivals, funny, strange, and downright weird holidays nearly every single day of the slow season (no matter when that is for you).
Need examples? January 19th is National Tin Can Day which was established in 1825 as a day to celebrate the storage of perishable foods in tin cans. Brick and mortar business can use this to encourage customers to come down with canned items to donate to a local food bank and receive a discount on your products in the process. This not only generates buzz, it’s a cause marketing tactic that will create a positive perception about your business in the local community. Then there’s Hot Sauce Day on January 22nd, which makes great marketing sense for food retailers and restauranteurs. What about Fun at Work Day (January 29th)? This is perfect for B2B businesses who provide products and services that enhance workplace satisfaction. How does Clean Out Your Computer Day (February 8th) sound? It’s music to the ears for tech support companies and the like.
No matter what your industry is there is a day of celebration around the corner that you can use to create hype in the eyes of your target consumer. But how do you discover these events? You can simply Google Search “days of the year” and you’ll find a slew of online resources that you can build your calendar from.
Step 2. Email the Calendar to Your Customers/Clients (and follow-up)
Armed with a buzz-worthy calendar of events you now need to let your target market know about them. Like you, many were unaware that there were so many fun days of the year. Some of these days promote concepts and ideas that are very dear to their hearts and interests, and they will appreciate the fact that your business is on top of it.
Think we’re exaggerating? Don’t think for one second that an owner of a golden retriever won’t get excited when they find out (through you) that February 3rd is National Golden Retriever Day, and that in honor of this fact you (where applicable) have an offer on food, clothing, toys, and health services for their beloved pet. This is just one example of a vertical market (pet products/services) but it’s analogous to what is possible for all industries.
To get the word out – begin with email. Send your calendar of promotional events to existing email subscribers, and follow up with them as each day approaches. In the initial email you can engage them further by asking them to opt-in to receive notifications when promotional events most relevant to them are approaching. Use a simple poll/survey plugin which will allow them to easily select dates/events that they want reminders for. Those that do can be considered more highly-qualified and more likely to redeem an offer. This will increase your email conversion rates.
The hype calendar also provides motivation for non-subscribers to subscribe with their emails. This can be done through social media. Keep reading.
Step 3. Create Buzz (and get subscribers) for These Events on Social Media
Social media lets you reach non-subscribers and other consumers you want to inform about your new seasonal calendar of promotions. It may take time to build an audience organically, but promoted posts on Facebook and Instagram can deliver referral traffic to the calendar (on your website) right away. Once these social referral visits are on your site you can encourage email subscriptions so that visitors can select the promotions most relevant to them and receive the appropriate notifications.
The great thing about promoted posts is that you can start with small $5 increments to test the waters, and increase your budget and/or adjust target demographics as needed. Even if subscriptions don’t come in quickly from the get-go, you will have created significant awareness about the new seasonal campaigns which is great for branding. This will help drive direct traffic to your site in the future.
Whether you invest in promoted posts or rely solely upon organic social reach, you will want to use the right keywords and hashtags (i.e. #RandomActsOfKindnessDay) especially for Instagram. All of the days of the year you are targeting on your promotional calendar (statutory or otherwise) have active hashtags and keyword search volume. Using them will allow your posts to show up in Instagram search results and user news feeds. This is even more important in light of the recent Instagram Keyword Search Update that has opened up a number of possibilities for businesses.
While the above strategy can be highly effective in beating the seasonal slump, the promotional calendar and incremental campaigns require signifiant effort. If you don’t have the bandwidth to manage it on your own, we can help. Contact Strategis Consulting Group today.