If you’re an American small business leader, you can probably rattle off the major events impacting seasonality. Let’s try it together:
January – New Year, winter weather much of the country, Dr. King’s Birthday, post Christmas blahs. February – Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, still winter weather much of the country. March – Spring is coming, pre-Easter and Passover for much of the country. April – Likely Easter and/or Passover, spring in full bloom. May – Memorial Day, gateway to summer, Mother’s Day, college grads and so on. You know this drill. There was a florist in our family, and I can tell you now, decades later, when those flowers were going to be flying out of that store.
But events make up seasonality just as much as the calendar, and you ignore their potential to your own detriment. This idea comes hot on the heels of Hitwise’s Heather Doughty writing that World Cup searches are starting to spike. Of course they are, you grumble. That sports thing is really big now. But read Heather’s piece in its entirety and learn a couple of things about this event that apply to many similar events.
She writes that there are 68 different queries related to the word “schedule”. There are also many queries related to the top 50 players. How can you use this information? Be imaginative. You don’t need to run a sporting goods store or bar to capitalize on this kind of intelligence. If your website includes hours, include a World Cup schedule. Better yet, include a World Cup schedule with some value added property like when games are on in your area and on what channel. If your site has anything to do with books, run the same schedule, but include nice beautiful links to books about the players. Promise overnight shipping for nominal fees. Would you rather have a lower margin customer on a sale and a new name on your house list or stick to your guns for $5.95 shipping?
Brainstorm the World Cup. There are geography applications, television schedules (different from game schedules), cultural pride issues and countless others. Your takeaway for today is that the World Cup is a huge global event and traffic surrounding that event impacts your seasonality perhaps more than the thermometer.
Think about the other events in the next two years just like we did with seasonality to start: The Summer Olympics start in London in July 2012. That’s just about 2 years. It’s still too early to plan, but not too early to put on your seasonality calendar. Start planning July 2011. The Academy Award nominees are announced at the beginning of the calendar year and the show takes place in late winter. Count on tens of millions of American viewers plus international audiences. Figure out what applies to your business as we did the World Cup and start planning. But remember that the event is when the focus happens.
Maybe you’re doing your own event in the buildup to to the event. March Madness–the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament–should be on your calendar every year. Bookend the festivities with St. Patrick’s Day and either spring or a religious holiday depending on your business. Super Bowl Sunday is February 6, 2011. Start before the NFL season. Let your customers pick their favorite teams to go all the way and have a drawing based on who picks the game’s winners.
If you run a local business, the extensions are endless: house cleaning, catering, babysitting, lawn care and appliance sales come immediately to mind. There are dozens of others. The issue here is not to say as one client recently told me that “This is our low season.” Sure, there are seasons that are better, but by engaging in the world’s events, the water cooler events, you can catapult your small business into relevance year ’round. But these aren’t events that you should plan as they’re happening. Get them on your calendar now. Buy a pizza or three and brainstorm later this week. How can your business participate in four major events in the next 12 months? Now what time does Greece open against Korea in the World Cup?