In some environments, “No Outdoor Advertising After Veterans’ Day” is as much a rule of thumb as “No Wearing Linen After Labor Day.” While not every location is impacted by seasonal weather, every location is impacted by seasonality of markets. Consumers have a “winter wardrobe” and a “summer wardrobe;” they “winterize” their houses and their transportation. Seasonality means change, and there’s no reason why retail, commercial and institutional businesses shouldn’t take a good long look at least twice a year at their marketing campaigns to see where seasonal changes could impact them. In fact, there are tons of very good reasons why they should do so.
Fall and winter, in many areas of the country, offer weather conditions that are less than ideal for some businesses. Food-service establishments that counted on sidewalk advertising to catch the eye and interest of people strolling by will be hard-pressed if they expect that pavement sign to be visible under a snowdrift. Retail establishments with limited space will suddenly find themselves cramped when the physical size of the average customer increases by the width of a down jacket and an umbrella. That lovely hand-lettered menu board in the entry may be in danger of being smudged clean away by damp shoulders and elbow.
Here are a few ways that businesses can adjust their marketing plans and campaigns to account for the seasonal “woes of winter:” less walk-by traffic, increased competition, shorter daylight hours, and, let’s not forget, more bundled-up people wandering around with wet feet.
Move It Indoors: Does your business count on sidewalk signs or other outdoor advertising methods to bring in customers? Although “all-weather” signs can withstand most of the elemental damage, they’re not always effective because there are less people passing by. However, inexpensive indoor options are also available. Does your outdoor sign use pre-printed messaging? Poster grippers will take your already-printed images and turn them into instant window displays. Which frees that pavement sign up to hold the “wet floor” warning…
Dress It Up: It’s not just “sweater weather” for storefront mannequins. A display that might have attracted all the attention it needed when people had time to browse may be overlooked by a rushed clientele trying to get prepared for the holiday season. Turn up the heat on “everyday” displays by dressing them up with updated, brighter signage in eye-catching colors.
Light It Up: Ah, Daylight Savings Time. For many people this means getting up in the dark and going home in the dark, while working hours are lit just fine. Great. A “regular” sign, especially a hand-lettered one, may get lost in the gloom. Luckily, there are a number of really inexpensive options available for neon-look lighting that will stand out at any hour. Whether it’s a pre-made “OPEN” sign or an LED chalkboard with neon-ink writing, signs are available for walls, ceilings, doorways, and especially window displays that will let customers know in no uncertain terms that your business is open and ready to help them.
Hang it Up: No, not like that! Storefront windows aren’t the only place you can move your advertising to. When horizontal space is at a premium for product display (and giving customers room to breathe as well as move), vertical real estate is in many cases sadly under-utilized. Take those summertime ads and hang them from the ceiling to get customers looking up and around. Vertical advertising is easy with cheap ceiling-mounts and hanging displays. Products, specials and sales can all “pop” when advertised above eye-level.
Get it Moving: Have you looked at the Internet lately? YouTube’s popularity soars more every single day, and video advertising has turned into a huge marketing segment. Can’t afford a custom video ad or a 90-inch flatscreen display? Not to worry, there are inexpensive alternatives out there that can be just as effective. IPads and other tablets make absolutely great video display screens, and a custom ad can be as simple as creating a power-point presentation or even just a screensaver! Tablet displays and enclosures come in many different formats that are perfect for catching customer attention.
Make it Fun: They’re called the “winter blahs” for a reason. ‘Tis the season for customers to be stressed out and worried. Unlike the carefree months of summer, winter brings a whole new atmosphere that isn’t only to do with the weather. Take some of the bite out of the winter cold by recycling some of the summer fun and games. Many businesses use games of chance (prizewheels, raffle drums, etc.) in the summer as part of their streetside or tradeshow marketing campaigns. Those same games are just as effective indoors when used to determine discount amounts or “nth customer” prizes. Games of chance, while they may not be able to bring all the fun of a summer fair indoors, can at least bring a smile to the face of a harried shopper, hopefully turning them into a satisfied and happy customer!
As the fall season comes to a close, businesses should take a few moments to sit down and really think about how winter marketing should be different from summer. While the actual messaging may still be similar, differences exist in not just external factors such as weather and shopping patterns will appear, but also internal factors like consumer behavior and space utilization. By taking external changes into account and making modifications to marketing and advertising campaigns and plans, businesses can ensure that they maximize their revenue and sales for each season.