All businesses must deal with seasonal ups and downs but it's very tricky for those that depend on a particular holiday season to make quick sales.
In Australia, we have our two largest sales periods (Summer and Christmas) all lumped together. In the US and Europe, businesses tend to get 'two bites of the sales cherry' as their Summer and Christmas seasons are completely separate.
Summer/Winter businesses are challenging but celebration business, such as Easter and Christmas are arguably the most challenging of all when it comes to marketing.
Robin Vandekreeke from Occasion Surf was inspired to create Santa Rashie when he realised that while we spend a lot of time at the beach at Christmas time, there was a severe lack of Christmas colour.
"I've always enjoyed wearing a cheeky t-shirt, especially for special occasions like holidays. It's an easy way to celebrate and it always gives people a smile. I went searching for anything Christmasy to wear in the water and, when I couldn't find anything, I decided to make my own Santa rashie. I had also always wanted to see if I could build a business by taking advantage of all the services you can get online, such as graphic design, manufacturing, website building and mailing," Vandekreeke said.
Vandekreeke told The Huffington Post Australia the tricky part is to find people to buy the product in the short window of time.
"We don't have all year to test different marketing efforts to see if they stick. The great thing now is there is so much information online that we can access to figure this out. We've been able to use social media to connect with other people who enjoy a cheeky shirt celebration," Vandekreeke said.
"But for Occasion Surf to be successful, we'll need to have products for all the special occasions throughout the year, such as Halloween, birthdays and Australia Day, for a rotating demand."
Marketing expert Fleur Filmer told HuffPost Australia seasonal businesses need to plan their annual marketing calendar.
"When we look at a store that is 100 per cent celebration as well as seasonal, your marketing calendar is vital. It's important to maintain your visibility all year around, not just when you think of it or when the season is already upon you," Filmer said.
"You need to be regularly posting online, every week and every month. Online marketing and the art of being found in Google online searches is largely dependent upon posting frequently. Posting can come in many forms - website blogs, video blogs, video testimonials, social media posts, website updates, guest blogs."
"For businesses that can only sell a product over the silly season, you'd need to post up to ten times per week between January and February, four-seven times per week between March and July, 10-14 times per week between August and September and 14-21 times per week between October and December."
Vandekreeke said the easy part about a seasonal business is you're guaranteed there's a demand in the leadup to Christmas.
"We also know exactly when the demand is going to end. So the timing of our efforts is very clear. We get the design and manufacturing done by October and we market Nov-Dec. We also know that Santa wears the same outfit and colours every year so it's easier to keep up with his trends."
Fleur Filmer's Marketing Tips
- Try to keep the balance of your social media posts 80 per cent target market interest / fun / topical and 20 per cent product
- Launch a competition at the beginning of the celebration sales period and continuing through the sales period. The competition should focus on the product, the target market and maximum exposure for the brand.
- Partner your marketing efforts with another brand that sells well during that same celebration period, such as a Christmas hamper, beach towels, sunscreen.
- Make sure you have excellent management of stock levels so that you are not left with a warehouse full of redundant stock at the end of the season, or even worse, run out of stock before the peak sales commence