Seasonality is Like Marketing on a Surfboard

During our marketing presentations to business owners and managers, we always cover the concept and opportunity presented by “seasonality.” If you are a marketer, you’ll know this is a very basic concept. But out in the audience there is often a fair share of blank stares when the seasonality slide comes up. The slide is straightforward and it’s not the delivery, so it must be the first time they’ve heard about the concept.

What better time than the holidays to bring up the subject of seasonality, and what better metaphor to use than surfing. (Let’s see how this pans out…)

Seasonality can be considered as a macro-level, large-scale driver of human behavior. Seasonality may be based on the literal seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter), or some other repeating (often annual) cycle that drives behaviors.

In retail, the last two months of the year can account for 40% of annual sales due to holiday shopping. In an industrial setting, the annual industry conference can serve as a seasonal anchor for things like new product announcements (think the Consumer Electronics Show). There are sports seasons. The school year. New Year’s resolutions. You get the picture.

From an individual marketer’s perspective, particularly a small business marketer, these seasonal ‘things’ occur without any effort on their part; they just occur. Summer will surely follow spring, no matter what a business does or doesn’t do.

It’s time for the surfboard. Think of those aggregated human behaviors as a wave – a big wave. Your marketing can ride it like it was on a surfboard; that’s the opportunity. Your marketing efforts will go further and faster as you ride the wave.

The smart marketer takes advantage of that fact, and actively seeks out the seasonal drivers of behavior for their target market segments. People already have the seasonality on their mind, you are just riding it.

If you have ever been to the beach on a day with big waves, you’ll know a couple of things; you are not going to fight the ocean, so swimming against the waves is futile. And you can’t ignore those waves, either; they will knock you down. Same thing is true with your marketing and those seasonal waves. Ride’em and win – fight’em and lose.

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