Having a seasonal business means that early spring we generally hit the pavement running with marketing. From direct mail, to door hangers, websites etc., spring is the marketing time for most. We all are generally in the big rush to fill the books – or at least get enough work to start the crews.
What I have found odd over the years is that so many people stop marketing once they fill their schedules up. I’m guilty there, too, but we still do try and keep our brand alive.
Sure, you may not want to commence a big mailing campaign in August, but that doesn’t mean you should stop pushing your brand. Marketing isn’t always about generating work now, it can be about building the base for the future as well.
Late summer is a great time to have some promotional items made up and really work your existing client base. I’m not talking about the typical pens that everyone gives; what about a BBQ grill set or summer lemonade glasses with your logo – just something different. It might be the perfect opportunity to meet with a client and follow up on a job you did right out of the gate that season. They might even be working on the coming year’s budgets, which can be the perfect time to drop off some swag and talk about the next year.
I have personally found that as I engage clients early, meaning the previous season, I am more likely to get their upcoming work. More so if I help them with budgets or even just a general pavement plan.
As the season wraps up in November and December most of us are ready to run far away (maybe to those Florida beaches). But again, don't let your marketing stop. That’s another time to start a small campaign reminding existing clients that you are willing to work-up budget numbers for next year, or even hold places in line on your spring schedule for those willing to sign contracts.
Fall is also a great time to remind clients that you offer patching, traffic sign or bollard work and such during the winter. Another approach is to sell services that you generally don't like to do during the summer. For example, we often will work with clients to do ADA upgrades in the fall. It’s a last push for decent revenue, and it’s also work I’d rather be doing that time of year than in the summer where it eats into my asphalt schedule.
Think outside of the box for marketing too. Sure, many folks send Christmas cards, but have you thought about a Thanksgiving Day card? It’s random, but like I always say, do something someone else is not doing – or if they are doing it, find a way to do it different or better. When’s the last time you got a Turkey Day card? It keeps your brand fresh.
As we get into the middle of winter, it might be a great time for one last push to assist with budget numbers. My experience is that most budgeting happens in the 3rd and 4th quarters (or even in Q1!). It’s also a great time of year to offer to meet with HOA boards during their monthly meetings to offer your advice on their pavement.
For cold calls to new prospects, the winter is a great time to visit with property managers. I usually stop by with a basic brochure and business card, and simply ask to be placed on their bid list; not much selling, just to get us on the bid list. You’ll likely find this simple step will have you putting out double the estimates you are used to.
And don’t forget social media. Keep that going year-round. Make posts and show the world your operations and business in the off months, perhaps even how you maintain your equipment. Just a little touch that can show a customer that you are serious and professional in what you do – and that you’re still there waiting to do their work.
Give it a try this fall and winter, and see how it goes for you. Set simple goals to do some sort of marketing each month through the end of the year – or at least fall and winter efforts -- and then vow to continue each season next year, regardless if you are working or not, or if your schedule is full or not.
I know that the persistence in marketing will get your name out there, and generally that brings in more and more opportunities.