When your local business is in off-season, or when search volume for your product or service is at its lowest output, that doesn’t mean your marketing should be, too. As Chris Rowe, CEO of JetDM points out,
“If you’re at a seasonal low, it’s not a good idea to target a bunch of unrelated content search phrases. This will just frustrate anyone looking for your business.”
For any local business, there are a handful of things you can do to combat and even be successful at weathering the seasonal lows in local search volume. Take some cues from the industries below, which use planning and creative solutions to avoid a slump.
1. Plan Your SEM Campaigns Early
There are about 15,000 Christmas tree farms currently operating in the United States. Far from being a “one-month-a-year” business, a Christmas tree farm requires year-round maintenance and provides income both before and after the Holidays. For example, people want fresh wreaths and table decorations for Thanksgiving. Pinecones are a big item as kindling for indoor fireplaces from November right through March (and for even longer depending on where you live).
Many tree farms are set up to allow people to pre-order their tree as early as September, or to purchase gift certificates at any time of the year. The smart tree farmer will have already mapped out a search engine marketing (SEM) campaign during the sweltering days of summer, with a batch of specific long tail keywords that will bring local customers to their landing page to take advantage of early discounts and takeaways.
2. Optimize Your Landing Page
There are an estimated 17,000 bed & breakfast inns around the country. Many of them depend on a tourist season, such as winter skiing in Colorado or summer fishing in Missouri. There is great potential for local SEM that can keep these inns operating in the red year round. If you have a seasonal B&B, make sure your landing page funnels sales (meaning reservations) by offering off-season suggestions that locals will go for, from second honeymoons to a weekend away from the kids.
3. Google My Business
Tax preparers normally work a busy schedule from January through April. The IRS forecasts average refunds in 2015 will be around $3,295.00, and everyone wants their refund back quickly. But after that rush, tax preparers still continue to conduct business, often by appointment only. Google My Business is a great way to let the local customer base know you are still open for business during seasons outside your busy season.
4. Don’t Forget Social Media
An average yard can cost up to $40 to mow and trim per week. The bigger the yard, of course, the bigger the fee. But in most parts of the country the grass eventually goes dormant for part of the year. So in addition to mowing, landscape services often offer leaf raking and snow removal, making them a year-round business.
With social media marketing budgets expected to double in the next five years, mowing services should make sure their SEM campaigns are securely tied in with Facebook and Twitter. This includes making sure messaging across platforms is consistent (such as if your company has a specific deal in effect that week or month). It also includes staying active on the sometimes-dizzying array of platforms available now. At the very least, utilize Facebook and Twitter, but you might want to try building your community on LinkedIn or Pinterest too.
5. Utilize Mobile Apps
The familiar song of the ice cream truck is a traditional (or insanity-producing) part of summer in many parts of the country. In winter these same vehicles often serve hot chocolate and donuts. Since their routes can be erratic in the summer, a truck selling hot cocoa in the winter should plan out where it will be ahead of time – targeting places like outdoor skating rinks and cross-country ski events. Then it can send out Instagram shots of where it will be, and invite others to send a Snapchat invitation while they are enjoying their hot chocolate and donuts. A mobile business is perfectly suited to take advantage of mobile apps like these.
Building a successful business and creating marketing campaigns that stay effective in the face of seasonal dips, takes planning and creativity.
You may have a particularly seasonal business that won’t have much success implementing any of these ideas. In which case, how can you find your own creative ways to be successful during a slump in the search volume for your product or service? What methods have you used to make sure your business pulls in customers via search even during the off-season?
Whatever your solution; whether it is early keyword preparation, Google My Business, or creative mobile app use, the fact is that there are many complementary products you can use to bolster your seasonal service.
Featured image created by author. Other image via dollarphotoclub