Marketing Off-Season Items

Give seasonal items year-round appeal.

by Dennis L. Prince
- Oct 25, 2013

Can you really sell pool toys during the icy chill of winter or fur-lined parkas in the sweltering heat of July? Yes—if you know how to break through customers' quick-response instincts that would conclude both would be ridiculous propositions. The trick is to learn how to speak to your target audience's longer-view intellect, the thought processes that eventually see the wisdom of your sales pitch.

While so many goods definitely have a window of best use, by design, that doesn't mean they're useless outside of their intended season, nor does it mean the season has ended just by what you see outside your window.

Create special pre-season pricing and availability information, offering incentives to those who buy before the peak season

Here are some tips for adding year-round appeal to almost any item by helping you discover how to get more out of the season and recognize there's likely demand for those goods all year long.

First, extend the season

Well, this is the most obvious approach to selling seasonal goods: Simply make that season longer. Surprisingly, some businesses have fallen a bit behind in seizing this opportunity. Although you'll need to be prepping your business for an oncoming seasonal rush, you can also help customers get more from their seasonal shopping with you when you help them realize the time to buy is now.

  • Make it evident in your store space (online or brick-and-mortar) that you specialize in seasonal goods. This keeps customers aware of your product and service strengths, and serves as a constant reminder of the season as it approaches. They'll be thinking about the season well before the calendar announces its arrival.

  • Provide a count-down calendar for your customers, helping them plan ahead and shop a bit early to enjoy the best selection and maybe even some early-bird specials.

  • Create special pre-season pricing and availability information, offering incentives to those who buy before the peak season.

When you remind your customers of the benefits from getting an early start on seasonal shopping, you can get their attention sooner than your competitors. You'll also benefit your business by properly ramping up your inventory and service levels as you gauge the impact of the oncoming season. Extending the season with an early start helps your customers beat the peak season scramble while allowing you to collect seasonal revenues sooner.

Your opportunity is to get customers thinking about the snowy slopes even though the mercury is bubbling near the century mark

Next, shout about the off-season benefits

This is the keystone to the pillar of making off-season profits: Proper pre- and post-season planning makes sense, and saves cents, too. Your opportunity, as previously suggested, is to get customers thinking about, say, the snowy slopes even though the mercury is bubbling near the century mark. There's value in shopping off season; shout that out to your shoppers all year round.

  • Best selection: Be sure to get your inventory in place early, and let customers know the moment it's ready to ship. Let them enjoy the privilege of choosing from the fresh new goods early, knowing they'll already have what others will be clamoring for in the coming months.

  • Best prices: Sure, reward the early shoppers with special prices or delivery perks when they make their purchases before the crowds gather. Remember that you can sell hot seasonal goods at going market prices when demand is high, but you can begin to collect that revenue sooner with just a bit of incentivizing.

  • Goods at hand, right when they're needed: Give your buyers the assurance they'll have those seasonal items right at hand the moment the season arrives. Rather than having to dash out to make a purchase, they'll be first to make the most of a season while others are frantically shopping.

It's easy to understand the benefits of shopping for off-season goods, but it's just as easy for businesses to stop promoting their items as the season fades away. These days, the goods are always good, season in and season out. It's important you never stop talking about the season to your customers (as in, "Will you be ready for the season this year?" and "Look at the end-of-season specials we have just for you!") When you promote the value of off-season shopping, you'll help maintain contact with your customers all year long.

Remember, everything's in season somewhere…

Get comfortable with selling to international customers and work to understand their needs in the sorts of items you offer

And, in this global economy that every one of us can tap into, there's really no reason to think of a business as being "seasonal." The season you cater to is happening somewhere right now, waiting for you to show up and show off your products.

  • Look across your nation and see that the seasons are quite different from coast to coast. If you can't sell umbrellas in California during June, you might find that Florida customers would love to have some protection from the unexpected tropical downpours they're experiencing.

  • Look around the world and know there's always a place for your seasonal goods. Get comfortable with selling to international customers and work to understand their needs in the sorts of items you offer.

  • Be willing to reinvent your business from a geographical perspective. Although you could have been proud to once serve your local market, you might even discover a market elsewhere that's significantly larger and more lucrative than where you're currently selling locally.

The simple truth (and the good news) is that seasonal goods are always in season in today's global economy. When you increase local seasonal appeal to your items by lengthening the season, then highlight the benefits to customers who shop off season, you'll help guard your products from falling out of favor as the calendar turns.

Most important, when you broaden your view beyond what you can see on the local horizon, you'll find the season for your goods is going on right now even if not right in your backyard. With that approach, you can happily avoid an off-season drop off and keep your business moving along all year round.

About the Author

Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay…and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues.

Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.

Other Entries by this Author

Follow Us