B2C retailers always experience a slow season after December. They use this time to run sale after sale after sale – they need to get rid of inventory so they can stock up for the next season.
Some B2B businesses have slow seasons too. Suppose, for example, you have a construction supply business. Most of your customers are contractors from the region, and their slow period is from thanksgiving through early spring. This is your slow period too, at least as far as sales are concerned. Time to take a breather, re-stock your inventory, balance your books, and get ready for tax time. Life is easier for a while.
There is one task, however, that you should keep up year-round – your content marketing. And here’s why. You have three types of customers, two of which will be targets of your off-season marketing.
- You will have some contractors who have been with you for years. They would never think of going anywhere else. Your marketing is not for them. A Christmas card will suffice.
- You have other contractors who have only been with you for a couple of seasons. There is still the potential that they could be swiped up by a competitor. You need to stay in touch.
- You have some who have only just discovered you last season, used you, seemed happy, but they are not permanently “in your pocket” by any means. They could be very fickle at this point, if someone else aggressively pursues them.
Your competition is pursuing new clients all the time. You probably do the same. But, if you have clients whose contact information you already have, then you need to keep reminding them that you will be waiting for their business as soon as they are ready. You want your brand in their heads throughout the winter.
Here are five “non-pitchy” methods of “contact” marketing.
Always Send a Holiday Card
Write a personal note on the “young” customers, thanking them for their business this year and assuring them that you are gearing up for the new season.
Take a Customer Survey/Review
Wait for a bad weather snap, when your customers are sure to be indoors more than out. Send an email out commiserating with them about how you, too, are stuck inside and longing for spring. Attach a survey to that email and ask them to complete it. You want to know how you are doing and what you can do better. Offer a discount on their first order if they will complete it and return to you. And if they do return it, make sure you send a follow-up thank you email, with that discount coupon on their first order. Here’s what this does:
- It gets your name in front of that customer again
- It “connects” you – stuck inside, hoping for an early spring, etc.
- It tells them that you remember them
- It tells them that their opinion matters to you
- It lets you ask for something that is not a sale provide an incentive for them to come back.
Entertain Your Customers
No one ever said that just because you are in what some call a “boring” niche, your content marketing has to be boring. Find jokes and funny anecdotes related to the industry, post them on your social media pages and/or send them along in emails. You just may find that they begin to look forward to hearing from you.
This kind of regular contact demonstrates your continued interest in the industry, your desire to stay current, and shows your customers that you have a “personal” side too. This helps build those relationships that result in loyalty.
Show Your Interest in the Industry and Their Issues
If you do not have a blog, you may want to consider starting one. Even if you don’t, however, you can still prove your commitment to the industry. Search for current news in the construction industry, write summaries, and post those on your blog, sending an email with a link to the post. If you don’t have a blog, send a “Did You Know?” email with a summary of the news item.
When you use your blog and social media to post news, it’s much easier to start conversations. You might ask for them to comment or provide their opinion or suggestion about that newsworthy event. Getting discussions going among your customers, and participating in them yourself, keeps you “front and center.” It also shows that you are keeping you “finger on the pulse” of the industry.
Gear Up as the Season Approaches
You need to make personal contact as the season approaches. Maybe there is a new type of flooring you have decided to carry; maybe you have a full stock of the latest in insulation, or a new line of shingles. Send out an “welcome spring” email with this information. Write blog posts about the benefits and value of the new products you now stock; create a video showcasing them, send it in an email, and post it too. Barring a video, at least send high-quality photos. Visuals are always far more engaging.
Business may be slow, but you cannot afford to be. Your competitors are not hibernating. They are busy drumming up business, and some of that business could be your customers.