How do you manage and grow a company that relies on the peaks and troughs of seasonal sales? The marketing manager of a successful seasonal business shares her strategy and advice.
Most businesses are able to plan their expenses, production, delivery and marketing campaigns around regular, year-round sales. But what do you do when your business is seasonal? How do you manage and grow a business around frantically busy sales periods, followed by, potentially, months of quiet days?
This is an issue faced by Rebecca Wilson, Marketing Manager of the Turtle Mat Company, manufacturers of super-absorbent cotton mats that keep your home cleaner for longer, protecting floors and carpets from the damage caused by mud, dirt and dust.
We asked Rebecca how she manages her marketing campaigns around the year to make the most of the company’s seasonal sales boosts, and keep the brand front of mind when sales are traditionally lower.
What is the business cycle like for Turtle Mat and what factors affect sales and revenue?
The business cycle for Turtle Mat is, as you’d anticipate from a doormat specialist, quite seasonal with the focus on autumn and winter where the doormat comes into its own, and there’s an increased need for it in UK homes. We also find rain, especially prolonged periods, at other times of the year leads to an uplift in sales.
How would you describe your strategy for managing seasonality?
As our peak periods are clearly defined by seasonality, planning of resource and marketing campaigns for autumn/winter are prepared over the summer months.
Crucially, we ensure everyone from the warehouse team through to the digital team and customer service are given forecasts of what we can expect over our peak period and specifically when these peaks will be – driven by our marketing campaigns.
In what ways do you cope with the surge in demand during your peak season?
We plan for it and often the surge is driven by our marketing campaigns, whether on or offline, so we know exactly when to expect increases and increase resource accordingly.
We let customers know of delivery dates for Christmas orders quite early in December, before the pre-Christmas peak, and will communicate this a few times in December to decrease the last minute surge just before Christmas.
How do you stay in touch with customers during the low season?
We typically employ email over the summer months to keep in touch with customers and to stay in mind over a period where they are less likely to buy.
We also meet customers face-to-face with events such as RHS Chelsea Flower Show which is a great opportunity to showcase and get feedback on new designs ahead of their full launch in autumn as well as sign people up to receive our catalogue.
What is the biggest challenge you face as a business with a seasonal offering?
Sunshine! Managing and maintaining a consistent level of sales during the off season is the biggest challenge we face, as extended good weather really can make a difference and that’s something outside of our control.
It’s also difficult during this period to get the message to resonate that Turtle Mats are still incredibly useful when the sun is shining and people are spending more time coming in and out of the garden. So we use this time to send out more supportive communications, such as how to wash your mat, so that the communications are still useful.
What advice would you give to other seasonal businesses?
My advice would be to really leverage the seasonality and your peak periods, rather than fight to have sales year round and throw budget at the low season when it’s not going to offer the same level of return.
Find other related topics to communicate to customers over the low season to keep your business in mind, cultivating a resource that customers like to read and find useful, whether that be gardening tips on the blog for a doormat company like us or a guide to the best sunny winter getaways for a suntan lotion company, for example.
You can find out more about Turtle Mats on their website.Rebecca Wilson