Upon the arrival of the off-season (or “low season” as it’s known here in Costa Rica) most small businesses downshift by reducing prices, scope of services, hours of operation, and staff. Some folks just close their doors and go on vacation. Many also slow down or completely stop their marketing efforts, citing reduced resources and capital intake. While I agree there is a logic associated with the former items cited, I believe that shying away from the latter is a missed opportunity – and it won’t break your bank. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Here are 3 simple reasons you should be marketing your small business in the off-season.
1. You Have More Time to Review and Focus
The perfect time to review, revise and/or implement a marketing strategy moving forward (or adjust a strategy that is already in place) is after a busy and successful high season, after the hustle and bustle of activity has subsided, when you have the time to sit down, relax, reflect and take inventory on what has transpired and on where you want things to go. Solicit staff and customer feedback. Identify what worked and what didn’t. Review “lessons learned” (good and bad) with your management staff. Identify trends. Analyze statistics. Send out “Thank You’s”. Make sure your website is “mobile friendly”. Then formulate or adjust your marketing strategy for not only the next high season, but for the duration of the low season.
2. North Americans Plan in Advance
It’s September in Paradise (“low season”) and you’re a beach hotel and/or bar/restaurant, a tour operator, a sport fishing or surf charter operator, a dive shop, an equipment rental concessionaire or a white water rafting operator. High season kicks in in at the beginning of December. Do the math and that’s 2 months from now.
According to this Statistica Survey on “How far in advance of your beach holiday will you begin planning?”, in the U.S., 34 percent of respondents intend to begin planning their beach vacation four to six months before departure. And according to this infographic entitled, “Family Vacation Planning 2013″, 4 out of 10 families start planning any vacation 3 to 6 months ahead – and 1 in 5 starts planning in 3 months or less. You’ve already missed the peak window of opportunity for marketing your small business to the 40% who make their plans 3 – 6 months in advance. But you can still capitalize on the 20% who are planning their vacations right now.
So why would you want to do nothing at the precise moment that the people you want streaming through your doors or floating on your boats are planning their vacations? Right now is when you want to target those folks. Right now is when you want to be on their travel planning radar. You want to be on their itinerary before they get on that airplane.
3. It’s Coupon Season: Reach Out to Locals and Your Steady Customers
Make hay while the sun doesn’t shine. Locals deserve a lot of love, especially when they’re living in areas that get periodically overrun with tourists. Give them a break with a special offer or coupon. Show them you appreciate their business and you want them to come back. Make them want to tell their friends about you. Make them your brand advocates.
Coupons and special offers are highly effective when offered on your social media channels via mobile, tablet and PC (on-premises QR codes that link to coupons are nice for the geeks. But you may want to hand paper out to the old folks). Facebook advertising and Facebook promoted posts are extremely effective ways of targeting your market segment on Facebook through the off-season by dangling the carrot in front of them so that they keep coming back – and so that they bring their friends with them when they do!
Coupons are a great way to keep your steady clients warm while winning over new ones at the same time, and can be your “bread and butter” during the low season until you can enjoy another “epic feast” during the high season.