Advertising & Marketing

9 Tips to Manage Seasonal Business Fluctuations

Got a Christmas tree farm? Ski resort? Summer seaside holiday let? If you operate a seasonal business, maximising seasonal sales and managing the off-peak seasons can be challenging. Use these 9 seasonal marketing tactics to help you maximise revenue during the busy season, and ensure your business survives and even thrives during the slow season.

What is a Seasonal Business?

A seasonal business generates most of its sales during a particular time of the year. An example would be a Christmas tree seller in December. Other companies that are impacted by business seasonality including notable off-seasons are ski resorts, lawn care companies and summer holiday destinations. While seasonal businesses can be exceptionally profitable during their peak seasons, it can also be very challenging to manage and encourage sales during the off-peak seasons.

What Does Off-Season Mean?

The off-peak seasons for a seasonal business are the periods of time when sales are typically lower than other times of the year. These slower sales can be due to a number of factors, such as changes in weather for a ski resort, the end of summer for a swimwear boutique or winter season for a wedding planner. A perfect example is a Christmas tree farm, which experiences an off-peak season during the summer months, when there is no demand for Christmas trees. The off-seasons can be a challenge for seasonal businesses, as owners need to find ways to maintain revenue and keep business going.

How Can I Manage the Off-Peak vs Peak Seasons of My Business?

There are a number of tactics that can be included in a seasonal marketing strategy to help manage the mayhem of the peak season and the lull of the off-seasons. Below are 9 of our best tips for seasonal marketing to encourage off-peak sales and predict peak-season demand more accurately:

1. Open Early and Close Late During Peak Season: When you’re in peak season, encourage sales by opening earlier and closing later.

2. Peak-Season Discounts to Book Ahead and Shop Early: Use discounts or ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ offers to encourage customers to buy early, book early and in general plan ahead so you can manage traffic and stock. If you work in accountancy, offer promotional drinkware to customers who make appointments ahead of the rush to get tax returns submitted on time.

3. Off-Season Discounts: If you run a car wash, business slows down to a trickle the moment it looks like rain. Attract customers by offering a ‘Rain Discount’ and throw in an extra coat of wax to keep the weather from ruining the wash.

4. Memberships Matter: Use frequent shopper programmes, exclusive membership benefits and other incentives to encourage repeat customers and early bookings. If you run a boutique hotel or manage a summer holiday let, ask customers to book their next summer’s stay for a reduced fee and include free cancellations. That way you can plan ahead and your guests can start envisioning their next unforgettable holiday with your business.

5. Prepare to Pivot: Leverage existing skill sets and suppliers to offer off-season products and services. If you run a lawn care and landscaping company, offer snow shovelling or other outdoor maintenance in the off-peak season. If you’re a Christmas-themed shop, pivot to the next big day such as Valentine’s Day or Easter once the festive season has passed.

6. Keep In Touch with Customers: Be sure to capture customer email addresses when possible, and maintain a social media presence. Don’t overwhelm customers with too much off-season outreach, but do use off-season marketing strategies to let your customers know you’re out there, and getting ready for them to return when it’s time.

  • Stay in Touch Off-Season: Make sure they know you’re looking forward to seeing them again next year, next summer, next winter, etc. If you run a ski resort, send a card in the summer wishing visitors fun in the water until it turns to snow and you see them again. Also, remind them the slopes are a great place for family hikes and warm weekend getaways off-season.
  • Give Gifts that Keep Your Name Top of Mind: If you manage a bed and breakfast or short-term holiday let, give guests a branded bag or send a personalised calendar that says ‘See you next year!’ 

7. Stay Active in the Community: Especially with seasonal businesses, customers like to know they’re supporting local businesses that care about their community. Sponsor kids’ sports teams, local charities and more. Community engagement keeps your name in mind and creates emotional engagement which helps strengthen customer retention year on year.

8. Employees Matter Most: Make sure seasonal employees feel appreciated. Welcome them back with customised gifts and special perks like a team lunch or employee discount. Your customers have fond memories of stepping into your business and seeing familiar faces. This helps customers feel like they’re coming home when they come to your business year after year, whether that’s to shop for Christmas gifts or enjoy their annual summer holiday. 

9. Pick Suppliers You Can Count On: Nurture strong relationships with your suppliers. Work with suppliers so you get first access to new stock quickly. Especially with seasonal businesses where customers and merchants experience acute demand cycles, good supplier relationships help you manage stock and come through for customers when your competitors can’t.

Benefits of a Seasonal Business

As you develop your seasonal marketing strategy to help keep your business thriving (and you sane!) during both peak and off-peak times, remind yourself about the unique benefits of having a seasonal business:

  • Reduced Overheads: You may only need to rent space and hire employees for a specific season or peak period.
  • Flexibility: Want to take a long holiday on a secluded island after your busy season? With the right planning, you can reduce your team, put your out of office settings on and get yourself set up under an umbrella with a fruity drink.
  • Excitement: Some of us really do enjoy the work hard, play hard approach to life, and a seasonal business brings out the best in the adrenalin-driven among us.

By using the tips above to help manage highs and lows in customer traffic and revenue, your seasonal business (and you!) can feel alive during your busy season and relax during your slow season. With the right seasonal marketing strategy, you’ll still be on a roller coaster, but one that’s well built and with a ride designed by you!


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