Here in London, Ontario, I think most would agree that, even by our hearty Canadian standards, this has been a relentless grind of a winter.
In business, we’re feeling it, these last eight weeks especially.
When terms like “Polar Vortex,” “Snow Squall” and “Special Weather Statement” are heard (and then experienced) so consistently, the collective energy of the people grows weary. I can scarcely recall a time when so many seemed so universally worn down as they do right now.
Heck, at the suggestion of a friend, I even looked up details about the phenomenon called “Mercury Retrograde” (and found a great article about it by Gala Darling here ) just to see if there was any further explanation for this current, collective malaise. And it’s interesting.
But I digress.
These kinds of times affect business in a number of ways. We, as consumers, are tougher to reach. We’re staying home. We’re tired. We’re putting off more proactive decisions and dealing more exclusively on matters more urgent to our current day-to-day life.
Idle foot traffic is flagging; we’re moving about by appointment only, and in little mood to browse, or even get to our vehicle and back in such bitter ice, cold and wind.
For retailers, restaurateuers and many other businesses, this is incredibly frustrating.
But, as marketers, we’ve got to look ahead.
This weather will not last. To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. We just haven’t see the reaction yet.
But it’s coming.
Right now, people are down, cold, weary, and tired. But the flipside of it all is the great likelihood that, once the weather breaks, we will see people out and about in droves. People are aching to get back out and do the things they enjoy, go to the places they like, and buy the things they want.
My question to you, as a business owner, is: Are you preparing for that, or are you moping through the final stages of winter like everyone else?
Now’s the time to get your plan in place. When the surge hits, the greatest percentage of the spoils will go to those who are prepared and have laid the groundwork in advance.
Those who are consistently marketing during these dark, colder times are building their brand and investing in their future. They’ll be top-of-mind when the consumer is finally ready to make a buying decision, or even just that first exploratory internet search. If you’re in this category, good for you. You have a head start on your competition.
But even if you’ve battened down the hatches this winter and have been largely silent, you can still put a plan in place and be ready to invite people to your business for the times when you’re pretty certain they’ll be looking to come out.
So, what’s coming up? Take a look ahead, and think about how your business relates to the many benchmarks we’re about to encounter. To generate some positive momentum, we’ve got to get ourselves into a better head space.
March Break will soon be here. For those who will be traveling with their kids, they may need to have their vehicle serviced before they go away, and may even require the purchase of other essentials (swimsuits, luggage, summer clothes) before they set out. If you’re in those fields, are you talking to your potential customers now?
Many more will stay at home and will be looking for things to do with their kids during the break. Others will finally break out to their favourite restaurant, pub or bar to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day or to watch the annual NCAA basketball tournament.
Are you inviting these people to come see you?
Easter is not far off. Family gatherings will be held in abundance. Many forms of retail should see new activity as well.
In the sports world, golfers will be aching to get on the course, especially with The Masters tournament coming up soon. Baseball players are already in spring training, and the Memorial Cup should have our downtown core abuzz later in the spring. We’re also soon to see the NHL Playoffs begin, and if the Leafs, Canadians and Red Wings all make it in, there will be excitement; a “buzz” that will make these frozen days of February feel like a long time ago .. once they finally get here.
A few weeks after the snow starts to melt, just watch the “for sale” signs pop up on neighbourhood lawns. Who’s getting the listings? And who’s showing the new homes?
After this harsh winter, it’s a good bet that many people will be in need of home improvement and other contract work to touch up whatever’s being hidden by the ice and snow currently. Driveways will need repair. Eavestroughs will be replaced. Roofs will be re-shingled, decks will be built and pools will be installed.
Those who enjoy their garden will be starved for their favourite pursuit more than ever.
We’ll trade snow shovels for garden hoses, sidewalk salt for lawn fertilizer, and boots for shoes!
Anyone who enjoys fashion will surely love to explore some new looks for a new season, completely over-tired of being bundled in scarves, hats and mitts for these last many months.
Once the salt and grime come off our vehicles, we’ll see a lot of scratches, dents and dings that local body shops may wish to be fixing. While many of us will finally do those repairs, others, having finally arrived through the other side of winter, will decide to start anew and will finally go and look to test-drive (and maybe purchase) something new.
Tax return refunds will begin to arrive.
Eight weeks from now, wedding season will be ready to begin. Golf will be in full swing. Patio furniture, barbecues and other outdoor accessories will be flying off the shelves.
It feels better even just thinking of those times, doesn’t it?
Are you ready, or just waiting?
Like the old song says, the sun will come out tomorrow (well … maybe in several more tomorrows, but it will be back sooner or later). My suggestion: put some thought to how you may best take advantage of what’s coming, and put your plan in place now.
When the rush hits (and it will), you’ll be glad you did.