It’s one thing to start a business, but figuring out how to market it is often a totally separate challenge. If your business is seasonal, like a boat charter, this can be even harder. But offseason charter marketing can be an important part of winning new customers.
Knowing your audience
Each year, the European Commission surveys small and medium enterprises (SMEs) about their biggest concerns, and “access to customers” is routinely the top worry.
Strategic marketing can help you access customers and address this worry. To start, ask yourself, “Who are my customers?” If that feels too broad, break it down into some simpler questions:
- What nationality are my guests?
- If I had to guess, how wealthy are they?
- What is my customers’ average age?
- Do my clients generally travel with small children?
These questions provide insights into your customers that can help you successfully market to them. For instance, a family with small children may begin to book their vacations when they get their children’s school break schedule. If most of your customers are Germans with small children, you could time an ad campaign to back-to-school season, when families are likely to plan their vacations for the year.
Knowing your customers can also help you determine what type of marketing is most effective. For instance, if your clients tend to be wealthy, make sure your ads or marketing efforts emphasize luxury and exotic destinations. If your clients are middle-class families, consider marketing that your trips are all-inclusive or budget-friendly.
If you have a White Label website with Enaviga [Hyperlink to product page], the analytics function shows you information about how people are accessing your website, which can help you understand your customers.
Why the offseason is important
Globally, Google searches for “vacation destination” peak in January, since that’s when many people budget for their year. Of course, people search for information in the summer as well, but as you can see from the Google trends chart, the biggest jumps occur in January.
If you know people are looking for information about vacations in January, be sure you’re marketing to them in January, even if it’s outside of the charter season. After all, customers book on their schedule, not yours. Many potential customers may not even know when charter season is, or how long it lasts.
January isn’t the only time when customer searches jump, though additional behavior may depend on your specific client base. As you learn more about your customers, you can start to figure out their habits and get a sense for when they might be in the mood to book.
Once you have some target timeframes in mind, you can plan ahead for them. Just because people are booking in January (or another key period) doesn’t mean you need to work 24/7 during that time.
Winter is coming
Planning ahead, both in terms of time management and budget, is key to offseason marketing.
In a seasonal business, it can be tempting to try to cut expenses as much as possible when there’s no money coming in, but try not to let these budget cuts affect marketing. Remember, you want your marketing budget to reflect customer habits, not your revenue stream.
If money is tight, think about ways to advertise that are cost-effective. For instance, if you have a Facebook or Instagram page, promoting your content can be done for less than $100 (the more you spend, the greater the reach). You can create these promotions ahead of time, tailor them to a specific age group or even gender, and schedule them to publish even if you’re out of the office.
You can also hire someone to help you optimize your website for search—known as search engine optimization (SEO)—or do it yourself for free. This work can be done at any time, and while search engines like Google often change their algorithms, many of the best practices will remain intact for several months.
Marketing in the offseason may require more planning, but the steps to getting there, like researching your customers, can help you establish best practices to win customers year-round.