Today is the official first day of Winter for us living in the Southern Hemisphere. All experienced marketers alter their strategies for the products they peddle depending on the time of year.

You know Christmas, Easter and Valentines Day are all big retails days, but have also considered different buying behaviours for Summer, Winter and Spring. Based on my experience I have seen different buying behaviours emerge in various countries depending on the weather. Below are my top 5 Winter Marketing strategies.

Analysis

I love numbers. Sales data, website traffic, marketing spend will all tell you what worked last year. The most successful businesses are those that invest heavily in terms of research, data and analytics. This applies to seasonal marketing as much as any other aspect of your business. Therefore, one of the first things to do, before you start your planning for Winter, is to take note of last year’s trends and performance during the same period. Although trends can and do change, and it’s important to adapt your messaging in response to these trends, by analysing what worked last year and what didn’t, you can gain a great deal of insight which will be useful in knowing what to talk about this winter.

When evaluating existing, successful campaigns, spend some time thinking about how each piece approached content format, distribution, messaging, and emotion.

When validating a campaign, you might find that it’s helpful to ask yourself the following questions:

• How has this piece used multiple content types and distribution platforms?

• Is the messaging clear and if so, what is it?

• What emotion does this campaign evoke in the user?

This type of analysis makes it easier for you to uncover common denominators that may inspire the ideation for your own campaign and contribute to your strategy.

Know your audience

As with all marketing strategies the key route to success with seasonal campaigns is using an opportunity that engages your audience. If your audience doesn’t engage with Winter, you can’t expect to see results from a campaign centred around it. Your strategy may need to be to attract another audience during Winter. If you sell bathing suits you may need to market your product to the northern hemisphere.

Start early

I’m a big believer of planning ahead of time but be open to optimising everything on the fly. Plan your Winter campaign in Summer/Autumn. Remember people will be spending more time in front of their computers and less time outdoors so you may need more creative options. As I’m sure you’ve noticed big chain retails start displaying Christmas stock in October.

For a Winter specific campaign, I like to put the display campaign live when the weather turns in the region I’m advertising in. If you are selling electric blankets and you are telling people it is cold outside and they need to buy your product, to stay toasty, but because of global warming Winter is late, it is difficult to convince people they need to spend the money when they are still running around in shorts and a t-shirt.

For search campaigns however earlier is better so you can build up reputation score as well as do a little optimisation so when the season is kicking into full swing you are making small tweaks A/B testing rather than multivariant testing.

Say you own a business that sells heaters. Heater sales typically spike during May/June depending on when that first big cold front hits. Trend research of keyword searches indicates that the phrases “buy heaters” or “buy electric blanket” peak around mid to late June. The trouble is if you only start your Google banner ads and blog posts then you don’t allow sufficient time for your content to get indexed and show up high in the search rankings. Online campaigns designed to capture searchers’ attention for these products need to start as early as April.

Use season-appropriate images

Google Doodles is a great example of a season-appropriate logo and website updates. By changing your web design, logo and Facebook banner for seasonal events that are specific to your industry helps to subconsciously get your audience to think about seasonal purchases, as well as communicate the message that your business is relevant and up-to-date. Think about a little bit of snow on your logo or earmuffs.

You should consider all marketing platforms – email, social, PR, blogging, SEO – when planning your seasonal content campaign, as incorporating different platforms in your campaign allows for effective content flow, increased reach, and increased engagement.

Customise your offerings

Capitalise on Winter seasonal changes by offering a new, once-a-year service offering that is consistent with your overall business activities. For example, if you sell skateboards offer a wax and tuning service for snowboards. Offer a higher moisture content face cream during the dry Winter season. Get creative and evaluate if there is an untapped market your business could exploit during Winter.

Top tip

Report and remain agile. It’s imperative when managing and planning a marketing campaign that everyone is on board with the ability to be agile. Report and review the campaign’s performance daily, weekly and monthly and compare against previous campaigns and adjust your strategy as necessary to achieve your objectives.

• Where is the traffic coming from?

• Which pages are converting?

• Which creatives/ messages are getting the best click-through rates?

Use these simple metrics, and other campaign success measurements, to inform your strategy and your optimisation. It doesn’t matter that the plan isn’t what you started out with, it is more important that you achieve your objectives of increasing sales volume.