How to Connect with Customers All Year Long

While the weeks leading up to the holidays are certainly the most celebrated shopping season each year, the absence of carols around every corner and lights on every eave does not signal the end of seasonal marketing. Especially now, when customer experience is revered as the most critical of business priorities, finding ways to connect with shoppers by identifying with what’s currently on their minds is a proven strategy for drawing people in.

Many of you are probably still thawing from the frigid visit from the polar vortex, but spring is just around the corner. It’s time to start planning how to promote products that tie into the promise of warmer temperatures, stadium dogs, practical jokes and all the goodness ushered in by the next season. New stores are coming online at a rapid rate and the increasing competition means that staying ahead of the seasonal curve is critical to attracting consumer attention.

While promoting Halloween inspired items in May does not make sense, thoughtful marketing campaigns, framed by what your potential customers will be consumed by at certain times of the year, is just smart business. Here are some things to consider as the ice melts and people start dusting off grills and hauling out the lawn furniture.

Housekeeping

As you gear up for a fruitful spring season, be careful not to overlook seemingly minor processes as you prepare. The hype of the holidays is winding down, so take some time to focus on making sure everything is in good order. Marketing campaigns perform best when they are well informed, properly allocated and they drive action that your business is prepared to accommodate.

Inventory

Doing a thorough check on your inventory should be done at regular intervals but conducting an audit with the upcoming season in mind will allow you to visualize what sales and deals you could run to make room for new inventory.

Budget

It’s easy to let budgets dwindle and get out of control, especially if you don’t set one ahead of time. Know exactly how much you want to spend on marketing, and don’t exceed that amount. Set realistic expectations for the money you spend and collect the data that will tell you how your investments performed. This is key to running successful campaigns in the future.

Research

If it’s available, take some time to dig deep into last year’s data. Replicate your successful campaigns and decide whether you want to tweak or abandon campaigns that weren’t as successful as expected. It’s worthwhile to seek out additional data on your target market and industry as well. Have things changed over the past 12 months? Are there new trends in your industry that you should be considering for new campaigns?

Campaign ideas

Spring presents plenty of opportunities for marketers to get creative with their customer communications. Here are just a few of the most popular events and observances you can tap into with campaigns:

  • Daylight Savings
  • March Madness
  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • Spring Break
  • April Fool’s Day
  • MLB Opening Day
  • Kentucky Derby
  • Tax Day
  • Earth Day
  • Mother’s Day
  • Memorial Day

There are also lesser known “holidays” for practically every day of the year. You can visit the National Day Calendar to explore the most obscure and wacky days of celebration and even sign up for a daily reminder. Just make sure if you decide to incorporate National Lumpy Rug Day into your marketing strategy, that it is relevant to what you sell and who is buying it!

Marketing calendar

You’ve heard it before, planning is everything. Marketing will never be an exact science – there are just too many variables – but technology advancements have brought us significantly closer to accurately understanding what drives behavior and predicting cause and effect. The more structure you have early on, the easier it is to adjust and optimize with the market. Be sure to attach a date to every step of a campaign, even the building phase. As you develop your marketing calendar, keep these things in mind:

  • Is it timely?
  • Is it relevant to your ideal customer?
  • Does it fit your budget?
  • Do you have the resources to build it?
  • Is it easy to implement?

Having this framework as you plan a campaign will keep you from getting overwhelmed when it comes time to finally bring your idea to fruition.

Especially for small business owners and marketers with limited resources, it’s easy to get caught up in the continuous cycle of holiday shopping season, neglecting other times of the year that are ripe for seasonal-influenced marketing. Step into your customers’ shoes and consider what Spring means to them. Do you have anything to offer that fits into their view of the world?