Though slow-seasons can vary between industries and niches, most retailers experience an off-season period with less foot traffic and fewer sales. No amount of anticipation softens the discomfort that an empty retail space can cause, especially if it follows your peak season. Of course, there is only so much that you can control, but there are some ways to stay proactive and lessen the impact of a few quieter months on your annual bottom line, and peace of mind.
Why an Off-Season Marketing Strategy is Important
Here are a handful of off-season marketing strategy tips that any retail business can for two primary goals:
- Boost sales during the slow time of year
- Better prepare for the busy season.
The former is rather obvious; any business will benefit from increasing profits. And it’s advantageous to have a more consistent sales calendar. But many businesses forget about the importance of the latter. Rather than dwell on the fact that your extra downtime means fewer sales, use that time to build your brand and increase awareness.
- Build Your Customer Database and CRM
- Connect with Lapsed Customers or Old Leads
- Get More Reviews Online
- Add Seasonal or Holiday Themes to Promotions
- Take Advantage of Your Business’s Website & Social Media
- Optimize Your Email Marketing and Stay on Customers’ Radar
- Discount Off-Season Clothing, Equipmet, or Other Products
- Plan Your Seasonal Pricing Strategy with Your POS
It’s vital to build a robust client database through your customer relationship management software. This enables you to build a stronger loyalty program and gain more repeat visits.
Start during your peak season by taking advantage of the increased foot traffic. Engage with as many customers as possible and gain new loyalty members. Once they are part of your CRM software you’ll be able to reach out down the road to draw them back when during your off-season.
Use online traffic to your website and eCommerce store to gain new subscribers. Ask for contact information and offer a browser subscription to future website updates.
During your excess downtime during the slow season, spend time organizing your existing database. Add useful information to profiles that are insufficient, like emails, phone numbers, addresses, birthdays, etc. Getting all relevant customer data into your system will help with future marketing efforts.
Take the time to come up with targeted engagement with customers who you haven’t seen in a while or a dead lead list. Most people are busy and, in some cases, they simply forgot about you. They may simply need to hear a quick message to come back and make a purchase.
Going through these lists also allows you to clean it up. Remove any names who clearly express no interest and move converted leads to your CRM. Get some spring cleaning done with your off-season downtime.
Gathering customer reviews is important at any point in the year. Positive reviews build a popular trust and awareness in your brand. More and more consumers appeal to online reviews prior to making a purchase than ever before.
Find ways to optimize how you ask for reviews. It’s great to get long, detailed customer testimonials about their shopping experience, but you’re not likely to see as many conversions. Make the process simple and fast to maximize the number of reviews you receive and leave the option for more substantial reviews for those that would like to add that.
Look at various outlets for gathering reviews, too. There are many sites devoted to more general reviews, like Google and Yelp, but there are also many that focus on more specific retail niches. Be sure to take advantage of free advertising in as many ways as possible. Plus, more reviews also improves your online visibility and SEO strategy.
Take advantage of any public holidays or events during the slower months. Typically, holidays are big retail days and the perfect opportunity to run sales and pick up additional business during slow weeks or months. Any retailer can find a way to run a holiday related promotion that helps to increase foot traffic.
If you sell seasonal-specific items, use the off-season to remind shoppers that they will need it soon. Or find ways to introduce shoppers to new ways of using your product during the off-season. For instance, if you have an online t-shirt shop, your winter season is likely to be a bit slower. Brand your product in different ways:
- 46 Lifehacks to Survive the ‘Day After Tomorrow’ Using a Refashioned Sleeve of a T-Shirt
- Cook Your Christmas Goose Using Scotch Tape and 3 Henley Ts.
- 8 Ways You Can Tie 200 T-Shirts Together Into a Semi-Warm Blanket
These are just a few brilliant ways of finding new ways to improve your off-season content marketing.
Another way to use added free time during the slow season is to spruce up your online presence. Websites and social media accounts always benefit from more updates and action. LinkedIn now prefers more frequent posts, in some cases multiple times per day; YouTube adds value to longer video content, being much more likely to suggest a video longer than 5 minutes than one that is only a minute or two; Google seems to like long, bumbling blog posts that seem to have no direction but just keep going and going until you find yourself reading on and on without actually understanding what you’re reading or why you were even on the page to begin with so you keep going on anyway to see if you remembered why you were here and then realize that it’s time to get a new retail POS system.
Clean up your product pages and checkout system on your eCommerce site. Add new blog posts and maybe a fresh new layout to your website. On social media, spend time devising new ways of creating customer engagement. Plan out posts, promos, contest for the next six months or a year. You’ll thank your future self when you have no time to invest in such marketing.
Email marketing for retailers provides the most reliable ROI of any marketing channel. Building a successful campaign also forces you to build your customer database. Get two important tasks done at once by growing your subscriber list and recruiting new sales. Just be sure to stay clear, direct, and on brand with your messaging and calls to action. And don’t be annoying! That’s a one-way ticket to Google’s “Promotions” folder and a whole lot of unsubscribes.
There are plenty of bargain hunters who consistently shop for seasonal products during the off-season. Find your less popular items to promote and make sure you do plenty of research with your sales metrics to find the right pricing for seasonal promotions. You don’t want to discover two months into a promotion that you’ve actually been losing money. Use your point of sale inventory management system to carefully analyze your margins and expenses.
If applicable, target sales and discounts towards local shoppers. This is particularly advantageous for retailers who are located in touristy areas. Once the peak season has died down, reward the locals who now have some peace and quiet.
As we mentioned above, your point of sale should assist with your marketing. A POS isn’t simply a cash register; it’s the hub of all business operations. From your inventory and pricing suggestions to loyalty programs and CRM, let your point of sale grow your business. To find out more, click below. And if you need a better solution, sign up for a free trial with KORONA to try it out for yourself.