If you run a Seasonal business, you and your staff might finally be letting out a collective sigh of relief now that the craziness is over and you’re venturing into your downtime. Locally here in BC, many of our seasonal businesses have ties in some small part to the Tourism and Hospitality sectors but they’re not alone. What about the likes of landscaping companies, local farms, wineries and small retailers?
Many small businesses hire seasonal employees, hoping to bankroll enough cash during these peak times, to see them through until Spring again. The lucky ones even manage to accomplish this, but it’s a far cry from all of them and if that sounds like a wing and a prayer mentality towards running a business, who are we to argue?
So what can a seasonal business do differently in their downtime to improve their chances of success? Well, to coin a phrase from the sporting world, Your Biggest Gains Are Made In The Off Season – especially when it comes to Google …
What Should a Seasonal Business Be Doing In Their Off-Season?
Take Advantage of the “off-season”
If your idea of seo becomes front of mind just when your business starts to get busy again, you’re already too late. You need your website to be search engine optimized months before you know people will be searching for you.
Even if your seasonal business is currently closed, the Internet and SEO is ongoing 24/7/365. The lights may be off in the front of the house, but in the dark Google, Bing and other search engine spiders continue to crawl and rank your website …
Successful SEO is now a year-round event.
If you’ve been running an seo campaign for a while and are happy with your search results & traffic received, you may even be tempted to take a break from ongoing maintenance work. My advice to this is simple, just say no and limit any seo breaks! While you may be able to scrape by in the short term, it’s not going to last and it doesn’t take long to start seeing a dip in the rankings.
Google and Bing are constantly looking for regular, fresh website updates like blogs for example along with daily social media activity. Eventually, an seo break will catch up to you and it can take months to gain back that lost ground.
Search engine optimization may help get your business listed on page one, but at the end of the day, it’s search engine management that will keep you there.
Remember, the Internet never stops – How about your Competition?
Did you know that getting started now on improving your online presence can help your business thrive next year? Organic rankings take time, so starting now will mean your business will rank well in Google by next season.
Tackle your Primary To-Do List
Don’t worry, I’m not going to segue into a rose-colored HGTV analogy here – there’s more than enough of those floating around the interwebs already.
What I am going to do is get you to ask yourself a simple question and then write down your answers: What are the top 3 three things your company was too busy to get to during the busy season? Therein lies your focus for the off-season! Why do you need to write the answers down you ask? Well, for two main reasons: 1) It gets that thought out of your head and by committing it onto paper, it makes it real and 2) being written down as a to-do list holds you accountable to then cross it off. The result? Productivity in a nutshell.
Now is the perfect time to get those To-Do Lists done.
In “old world” businesses, like bricks & mortar retail, many such upgrades may take the form of new paint, building repairs, additions, POS upgrades & staff training, signage etc. but what about your business in the digital realm? What changes will you make there? Could it be a brand refresher, start a blog, add a monthly newsletter, email marketing, try out some new social media channels, maybe even add some e-commerce features like gift certificates & online ordering? Now is the time!
In the off-season, with visitor traffic levels lower, you won’t have to worry about visitors running into issues on your website. Plus, when you re-launch with a new design or added features & functionality, you can share it across your social channels to attract even more attention!
What About that Marketing Strategy?
The off-season ultimately, is finite and so too will be the downtime it affords you to work ON the business rather than IN it.
No matter how successful your marketing campaigns may have been in the past, there will always be room for improvement. Take the time now to objectively evaluate each channel to quantify their provided ROI (Return on Investment), cut back on the obvious under perfomers and maybe even consider branching out into some new avenues.
For me, Marketing a small business needs to be seamless at its’ very root level, marrying traditional methods like TV, radio and print with the new world mediums of SEO, PPC (Pay per click) and content marketing into one uniform strategy. Long gone are the days of Marketing not talking to IT who couldn’t be seen in the same room as the “faceboook girl”. Work together towards one goal or face disruption and disconnect with your audience.
No one has a crystal ball to see into the future, nor is there a one size fits all marketing strategy or methodology out there to copy. Gurus are mostly just that gurus whose very business model is to pitch the latest trending fad in the hopes of relieving you of some hard-earned money.
The only way to know for sure which avenues are right for your small business will be to research the options and try a few of them out with simple A/B split testing. With the major advances in metrics tools like Google Analytics and even heat maps, the tale of the tape has never been so clear.
“The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat.” – Navy SEAL’s
~ Business is Combat ~
Researching and developing a marketing campaign in the off-season enables the seasonal business owner much-needed additional time. Time to test, adjust, re-test and perfect your tactics before the you know what hits the fan. So if you’re pondering a new marketing strategy or two during the busy season ( remember the top 3 things list we made above? ), now is the time to act.