MARKETING: KNOW YOUR SEASONS
January 2003, All Rights Reserved
many capable business owners and professionals, you are probably great at what
you do and not so great at – nor thrilled about – marketing your services. It
seems we sometimes spend more time marketing than actually conducting business.
I have met more than one entrepreneur so turned off by their conceptions of
marketing and what it takes, that they find themselves completely stumped and
There are many great ideas about how to
effectively market yourself and your service-based business, and as many rules
as there are marketing experts. Consider these:
- You should be out networking three or four
nights a week
- Public speaking is the key to marketing
- You need a 30-second commercial that will
- You need a user-friendly, interesting,
information-filled Web site
- You need to write (brilliant) articles
- Tell everyone you meet what you do – even at
the grocery store!
- Follow-up is key, etc.
The list goes on. All are true, yet in their
entirety can be overwhelming. After all, you have your own style, strengths and
talents, an aversion to certain activities, and you have limited time and
If you are not going to market 24/7, then what
amount of time should you spend? If there are at least 100 marketing activities
from which to choose, which are best for you? And just when should you be doing
Identifying and leveraging seasonal cycles
If you’ve been in business for two or three
years, you’ve probably observed a rhythm to your business. You may have noticed
times when interest in your products or services seems to pick up, without much
effort on your part. If you look more closely, it’s likely that some of this ebb
and flow coincides with the seasons and artificial markers in life.
For example, let’s look at the impact of the
winter holidays on business.
For retailers and gift and/or product-based
businesses: Most retailers generate as much as 80% of their business revenue
between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, so this is the time they pour on the
advertising dollars – buying bigger newspaper ads, running more promotions, and
buying more TV time.
Some companies advertise on TV only at this time
of year. These companies are leveraging the natural cycles of their business
opportunities and don’t expend time and resources to the same degree at other
For service-based businesses: If you offer
services that cater to individuals, the winter holidays are probably not a prime
time for new business. People are too busy with other things. Vacation, family
and holiday commitments virtually derail them from normal business. People may
meet with you in November and December, but more than likely they won’t commit
to anything until January.
For me, there is a natural fall-off to my
business between October and December when some clients are ready to take a
break or wrap up their coaching. This provides an opportunity for me to prepare
for new business in January, and to take time off. It’s also an ideal time to
meet prospective clients, to schedule speaking engagements, to prepare new
programs, and so on. Then when people are ready to get back to work in January –
to set goals for the new year and to focus on business again – I am ready for
Other seasonal markers
increased action for people. The sun is coming out and people are ready to
emerge from the sluggishness of winter. It's time for spring-cleaning and a
great time to focus your marketing efforts if your services support people in
clearing out the cobwebs.
marks the time when children return to school, people return from vacations, and
the world is ready to get back to work – if only for a short period. Clients who
start with you at this time either will be short-term clients or move easily
through the holidays.
Summer can go
both ways, and seems to be more individually based. I have had clients begin
coaching in July, and July has been good for new memberships in an association
to which I belong. If you are a product-based business impacted by the winter
holidays, summer is a very important time for marketing and selling.
Relief from the 24/7 marketing compulsion
By thinking about when and how to focus your
marketing activities at different times of the year, you can corral the
marketing “beast” and gain relief from the 24/7 marketing compulsion. Check out
fuel cells for practical tips on how to better focus marketing activities within
your own business.
Track your business seasons
Once you understand the “seasons” of your
business, you can better plan for and know when to focus on certain marketing
activities. This can help you avoid a great deal of frustration and needless
expenditure of time and resources.
Answer the following to evaluate the life cycle and value of your clients and
- Do my customers purchase services from me over
a long period, or do they buy once?
- How many products does one customer buy?
- How long does the average customer stay with
- How much does the average customer spend with
- How much money do I make per gig?
- What is my monthly income and how does it
change from month to month?
The shorter the cycle, the more frequently you
need to focus on marketing activities that generate new prospects. The less
money you make per client, the more clients you need. The results can be a real
eye-opener – potentially affecting how and when you market your services, as
well as how you decide to do business in the future.
Step 2: Plot
your monthly revenue on a spreadsheet (If you hire someone to track your income
and expenses, ask for his/her help).
Start your spreadsheet by listing clients or
customers with whom you contract over time in the left-most column. Then, plot
your monthly income for each client across the page. Do this for the last two
calendar years for best results. This will help you determine the average life
cycle of your clients. (If you have been in business less than a year, this is a
great way to get to know your business. Consider this a head start.)
If you offer different products or services, list
them out separately down the left-hand side of your chart and then show the
months going across. Again, in this way, you can evaluate the value of your
different products, programs, and/or clients and customers, which will help you
know when you need to focus on marketing.
Is this a good time
If this is a good time to market your business,
if you know clients await, check out Get Clients Now!™, a 6-week teleclass that
helps you determine the best marketing strategies for you and provides support
as you implement your marketing campaign over a 28-day period.
This article was copyrighted by
Joan Friendlander, the Entrepreneur's Success
Coach, and was reprinted here with permission. Check out Joan Friedlander's
website at www.lifeworkpartners.com