Once upon a time I had a client who needed help. They had a great business and loyal customers, but their sales were failing. They blamed it on the rain.
(Those of us old enough could not get the Milli Vanilli song out of our heads for a week!)
They explained that the nature of their business was such that nature itself affected not only the foot traffic to their locations, but also seemed to somehow convince customers that they would not need their products at all this season.
They went further and backed it up, providing anecdotal stories of years past and how their sales did based on the weather.
That’s a tough business and marketing model to follow. So I asked how, based on this, they adjusted their buying and marketing to support these trends, and what contingencies they had in place to adjust, as the unpredictability of nature had been around during their successful years as well.
It was as if the voice track on the song shut off. Silence.
Strategic Planning involves Contingencies
Now, the Farmer’s Almanac should not be your go to planning guide for business and marketing, but in seasonal businesses, there is a grain of truth in the weather influencing customer behavior.
And it would seem that after years of this playing out they would have back up plans, to allow for targeting customers based on the weather. After all, they had products that served their customers’ needs, regardless of season, regardless of weather.
They did not. They marketed based on over reaching generalized seasonal calendars, year after year, based on previous year performance. They accepted outcomes as results, not as insights for changes.
If a direct mail piece did not increase sales, it was the weather, not the content, not the list, not the timing. Sales continued to decline. The weather and economy were to blame.
The economy has been bad. If you were only successful in your business when the economy was good BECAUSE the economy was good, then you will have an issue. But you’ve had a long time to watch as the economic downturn has affected your business to adjust your approaches and methods to serve your customer base.
Tailoring your marketing based on your business to meet the needs of your customers will improve your response rates. It should also offer insights into business recommendations to improve your overall business strategy.