It can be a steep learning curve when you are starting out with your own enterprise. Quite often things don’t run as smoothly as you’d like them to, whilst some areas run better.
Working in a seasonal business can bring around lots of positives and negatives, but if your business is seasonal it is imperative that you work with the season rather than against it. Whilst a year-round seasonal business plan might sound like an oxymoron, seasonal trends work in peaks and troughs so it is vital that you maximise your efforts during the troughs to generate maximum revenue during the peaks.
That’s the case for many summer retailers and service providers including construction businesses, travel agencies, outdoor retailers and many more. Businesses that run in the colder months face a similar inverse sales calendar.
Rebecca Wilson, Marketing Manager of Cotswold doormat business Turtle Mat, gave an insight into the business calendar and how small enterprises face seasonality.
“The business cycle for Turtle Mat is, as you’d anticipate from a doormat specialist, quite seasonal with the focus on autumn and winter where the doormat comes into its own and there’s an increased need for it in UK homes. We also find rain, especially prolonged periods, at other times of the year leads to uplift in sales.”
To help businesses who are struggling with seasonality, Rebecca provided a number of tips on how to cope with seasonal business and generate success all year round.
Generate growth during low seasons
Peak seasons will bring in a surge of custom, but there is likely to be periods of the year where you don’t perform so well. You can utilise this low time to
If you are an e-commerce site it’s beneficial to consider implementing multiple approaches to marketing. For example, offline and marketing, social media and email marketing. By combining these together you can heighten your chance of reaching a larger audience.
Ensure that your website is fully optimised, contact details are up-to-date, social media channels are constantly updated and content is created for the website. Your aim is to become an industry leader so generate as much feedback as you can to keep your business fresh in customer’s minds.
Take advantage of trade shows and event where you can get your name in front of potential customers. Rebecca from Turtle Mat spoke of how the business approaches low seasons:
“We typically employ email over the summer months to keep in touch with customers and to stay in mind over a period where they are less likely to buy. We also meet customers face-to-face with events such as RHS Chelsea Flower Show which is a great opportunity to showcase and get feedback on new designs ahead of their full launch in autumn as well as sign people up to receive our catalogue.”
Utilise social media
All businesses should be using social media to communicate with their customers. Even during the off-period businesses should be generating news updates, online offers, promoting content for SEO purposes and generally building the online authority of the business.
Rebecca offers an insight into how Turtle Mat engages online during summer months:
“Find other related topics to communicate to customers over the low season to keep your business in mind, cultivating a resource that customers like to read and find useful whether that be gardening tips on the blog for a doormat company like us or a ‘guide to the best sunny winter get-aways’ for a suntan lotion company for example.”
For seasonal businesses unpredictability can have an effect on projected sales. Something as variable as weather can leave a business going from good trade in one year then struggling in the next. You have to be prepared for every eventuality and you have to face up to the struggle and put time and money into customer engagement.
Rebecca provides advice for similar business facing the challenge of seasonality:
“My advice would be to really leverage the seasonality and your peak periods rather than fight to have sales year round and throw budget at the low season when it’s not going to offer the same level of return.”
The advice noted above should help you in driving your business towards success. Seasonality can be difficult, but above all it is important that you are positive and prepare to expect the unexpected. No single business model works universally so by making mistakes you will be able to naturally tailor your seasonal plan to suit your industry.