Last year I was contacted by a potential client who does seasonal work. There was a problem, however. He contacted me during his on season. He really wanted a website, but he was too busy to put anything toward it. The season has passed, and now money is tight. So, he wants to wait until he's got some more padding in the bank account. I tried to encourage him to invest in advertising during his off season rather than sitting dormant for half the year. I guess the word advertising turned him off because the response was that, "Word of mouth works just fine." Is there folly in this logic? I think so.
Advertising and marketing aren't bad words. They don't insinuate pandering or begging for business. People just like to be able to say, "I don't advertise." Heck, I like to be able to say that. However, what I mean is that I don't take out ads. I don't take out ads because my line of work isn't meant to appeal to the masses. I do however market myself to my target audience, and I do it year-round. In fact, I market more in the off season.
Passive or Aggressive
If you divided your industry into two brackets: passive and aggressive, you would be able to predict how and when they will market. In the off season, the aggressive brands will continue to market themselves. The passive companies will try instead to save their money. This may seem wise at first, but let's look at the whole board. Two things happen during the off seasons.
- You have fewer active competitors. This means that you automatically get a bigger chunk of the pie. Let's say that I have 10 thoughts available to devote toward hamburgers. If there are 10 hamburger establishments advertising to me, it's likely they will each get 1 thought from me. However, if it's no longer the lunch hour and only 2 hamburger joins keep advertising, it becomes likely that they will each get 5 of my thoughts. (More bang.)
- Advertisers have fewer demands. This means that you are likely able to get a better price on your advertising. Let's say an advertiser has 10 spots available to devote toward hamburgers. If there are 10 hamburger establishments advertising with them, they can easily fill the spots. However, if it's no longer the lunch hour and only 2 hamburger joins keep advertising, it becomes difficult to fill those spots at the former price. (Fewer bucks.)
The End Result
I love using the hamburger analogy because it is so easy to see the benefits of proper marketing with it. The benefits are, of course, bountiful. I'd like to point out just two of them.
- Top of Mind. If you wait to start advertising until it's lunchtime when I'm really hungry you will have a very difficult time getting my business. Once I'm really hungry, anything will do – even if I'm not craving it. Come 12:00 I need to eat – something – anything. I'm probably going to go with the first thing I see or the first thing that pops into my head. At that point though, you have a lot of competitors vying for that spot. If you are advertisement number two, you are out of luck. However, if I think of you first, you've got my business even if I don't see your ad. Off season marketing secures top of mind.
- Creating the need. When I started typing this post I wasn't particularly hungry. Now I am. Now I'm really hungry. However, I'm not just hungry; I'm hungry for a hamburger. I'm going to lunch with a friend today, and I had planned on letting him pick the spot. Instead, I now think that I'll suggest an establishment that serves appetizing hamburgers. The odds are that he will go for it and respond with something like, "You know, now that you mention it, I could go for a good hamburger myself." Behold the power of suggestion! Off season marketing creates the need.
Best Off Season Marketing
Shameless plug? Yes, but one of the best ways to market your business during the off season is through your own website. Whether you run a GoogleAd campaign, have a Facebook strategy, take out traditional ads or USE WORD OF MOUTH it is always good to be able to have somewhere to send people. Your website acts as a megaphone for your current clients. It also serves as an advertisement to your potential clients. Remember that when your are paying for advertising your are paying per exposure (no matter how you slice it). You do that because (basically) the more potential clients are exposed to you the more likely they are to use you. When you have an active website you have an avenue for essentially free exposure. It's all bang with no buck.