Planning for Seasonal Marketing

It's not uncommon to have a business that relies heavily on certain seasons for increased sales volume. For most retailers, and other industries such as travel, the December Christmas period is a significant time for sales. Depending on the type of business you own, back-to-school, end of financial year or other times of year are also busy.

Smart businesses plan their marketing campaigns well in advance of their busy season or seasons. A reverse timeline, created by working backwards from what is considered to be the kick-off of the busy season, will help get printed materials in full gear with plenty of time to spare. Likewise it gives businesses the opportunity to hone their messages, regardless of the medium they choose to deliver them with.

Flexibility is critical to success. Staffing needs may also require careful planning. For example, businesses may divide up the money in their budgets to cover creative freelancers during the off-season and then hire extra retail help during the busy season. Therefore, budget accordingly, as cash-flow is important to any businesses' longevity.

If a business has various high points throughout the year, try to piggyback one promotional and marketing campaign onto the next. For example, a popular arcade chain ran a series of ads throughout the spring and into the summer - their busiest time of year. After Australia Day they waited a month and brought a variation of the same marketing campaign back for their next round of school holidays after Easter. Once a marketing campaign is established, you can usually run with it throughout the year with variations to fit the different busy seasons.

During the nonpeak season, unless a business is closed, they will also want to keep their brand in front of their target audience. At this point businesses can save money by having fewer advertisements and less promotional activity. They should however continue to promote brand recognition so that they will draw instant attention to the seasonal marketing plan once they launch it. A brand, even one with a seasonal business should not disappear altogether as the ramp up period then becomes more arduous as businesses attempt to re-connect with their customer base.

At this point the key is remaining in their customers' minds, even though the activity may not be. There are many options to choose from at this point but perhaps the most obvious is merely to reduce the frequency of marketing activities. After all, if it is working already why would a business change what they are doing? The critical aspect is again to plan the budget effectively to manage marketing expenses while the business income is reduced.

Timing and preparedness are keys to handling seasonal activities. Often off-season planning is as time-consuming as the actual selling is during the busy season. As soon as one season concludes, business staff should be working on the next season. Business should be careful, however, not to be too hasty in launching seasonal campaigns. Trying to sell people on Christmas decorations in late August will be lost on most people who are still in a winter state of mind.

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