How to manage Seasonality and Lifecycle Marketing
How to manage Seasonality and Lifecycle Marketing
Seasonality in businesses doesn’t always mean the ‘season’ or the weather. For lifecycle marketing every sale that your business makes, creates a new round of seasonality in the relationship between your business and your customers.
Consider the famous phrase from the Lion King, the ‘Circle of Life‘. It’s a symbolic term for the series of events that unfolds on earth, bringing us from cradle to grave, through ups and downs, love and misfortune, and so on.
What is the business version of the ‘Circle of Life’? I’d suggest the mobile phone contract is an excellent example (stay with me here!). To explain…
You sign-up for a fixed period (cradle to grave), experience service from that provider during that period (ups and downs), and you also have your own things going on, perhaps moving jobs, perhaps losing your phone (love and misfortune).
The key point in this circle of life that marketers need to really think about is the ‘fixed period’. Mobile phone contracts are a rare example of when both the customer and the provider know when the relationship could end.
At Websand, we see that on average over 80% of customers only purchase once. Some focus on the lifecycle of those customers can have a huge impact.
Managing business seasonality
Seasonality affects a lot of businesses. For some, seasonality could be your busy time of the year, for others it’s the holiday period. Either way, you need to make sure that you get the most from the data you collect in your business, be that continuing engagement in the ‘off season’ or maximising potential sales during your ‘peak season’
The smarter businesses manage are great at managing change and seasonality. This reduces stress at busy times and also keeps the cashflow moving during ‘un-seasonal’ periods. Here are some examples
- Accountants, perhaps offer free (or reduced fee) tax returns to your best customers (if they provide you all the information 3 months before the tax assessment deadline)
- Hotels – offer free accommodation to VIP guests that book a fixed course dinner at £pp per head.
- Gyms – don’t be afraid to send reminders to those people that signed that 12 month contract in January and haven’t been seen since.
Of course, if you sell Xmas trees then Christmas is your time and if you are selling Windsurfing lessons at Lake Windermere then you’ll be restricted to the summer. But what it’s what you do as a business in the non-seasonal times can unlock huge growth.
What is Lifecycle Marketing
Lifecycle marketing is a marketing strategy that links the lifecycle of your business offering to the lifecycle of the customer. Subscription businesses are a great example of this, if you are a business that works on a fixed contract then all of your retention marketing will be based around the renewal date of your existing customers. It’s a different way at looking at seasonality.
Do you think about your Customer Lifecycles
The concept of seasonality can be expanded a bit further if you look at the lifecycle of the products and services that you offer.
Each sale that you make could be considered as it’s own lifecycle. Linking the ‘expected’ lifetime of the products you sell to the customers that you’ve sold it to is really no different to a restaurant looking to sell Christmas parties.
As an example, here are some questions that would be important when creating a customer lifecycle programme to someone that has bought a cycling helmet from your business.
Based on your business knowledge, if someone buys a cycling helmet from you what else do they typically buy?
Do they buy clothing? Do they buy a bike? What other things do they buy with a helmet?
Based on your product knowledge, how long would that cycling helmet typically last?
Is it based on fashion (if the helmet is a certain colour?). Is it based on safety ratings – you should replace your helmet every 2 years?
Based on your cycling knowledge, what would make someone that has bought a cycling helmet smile?
Wiggle send Haribo sweets with every order. They don’t ever mention why, and they don’t ask for anything in return. They are sending their customers sweets to make them smile.
What about Service based customer lifecycles
If you are thinking, “Pah! I don’t sell cycling helmets, I’m a service business”. Don’t worry it can work for you too.
Hairdressers are a service business. They are also experts at managing seasonality. The hairdresser / salon appointment book is probably the finest example of a retention programme ever created.
Like quite a few men of a certain age I had hair once. I used to go to some of the finest salons to get my hair washed and cut. This was a seasonal practice that used to happen every 6 or 8 weeks. The reason it happened every 6 or 8 weeks is that I was always asked to make the next appointment before I left the shop. I knew that I’d lose my place if I didn’t book – and they knew that too. So my name always went into the book.
For that hair salon, and 1000’s of other hairdressers – the appointment book WAS the business. It managed seasonality, and therefore capacity, cashflow and marketing.
I have no hair now. Until they invent a pill that makes my hair return, I have no need for the salon anymore. That lifecycle has ended. I’ve lapsed 🙁
Creating the a lifecycle marketing program
The data you hold about your customers can help you to smooth your seasonality curve and create new opportunities. Whether you are a product or a service business, the challenge of creating marketing lifecycles is the mechanism that will allow you to be agile in your marketing and manage constant change.
It cannot be ignored that linking the individual behaviour of the customer to a seasonal marketing plan for each product or service that has been purchased is a challenge. It’s a lot of data to manage and can become a complex programme to put in place.
The good news is that you’ll already have all the information needed, all you need is some help to put it to good use. Luckily for you, we are experts at helping businesses grow through the opportunities created from marketing lifecycles, and we have built and designed Websand to make the process as simple as it can be!
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Also published on Medium.