There are an unlimited number of factors that can and do influence the marketing trends of small businesses and the messages they’re trying to project. Often, we’re at the mercy of these factors and have to work within the guidelines they have to offer, which can be both a blessing and a curse: limiting the capabilities of a campaign, while creating focus in regards to its message. And while current events, geographic location and other such variables might define the scope of your marketing capabilities, there’s perhaps no more powerful influencer than the seasons themselves.
It might not be obvious at first, but each of the four seasons—spring, summer, autumn and winter—heavily influence the marketing messages that we create and our consumers digest. Consider advertising Christmas specials in April or mounting a heat wave campaign in the middle of December—it just doesn’t make a lot of sense!
We have to work within the season at hand to cultivate messages that are relevant in advertising or we run the risk of producing something that people can’t connect with or isn’t conducive to the feel of the season. And, if you can master the messaging of each season, pinpoint the advantages of specific seasonal marketing messages and mediums, and use this seemingly limiting force to your advantage, you’re going to set your business up for success all year round.
Breaking down the seasons
The first step in understanding seasonal marketing is to break down the schema of the season itself. Basically, what this means is looking at everything that makes a season what we know it to be: whether that’s feelings, visuals, ideas, facts or something else all together. Here’s a quick example of a basic schema for each season:
- Spring: rebirth, awakening, plants, animals, Easter, rain, green, blue, flowers.
- Summer: hot, swimming, air conditioning, ice cream, vacation, gardening, red, orange.
- Autumn: leaves, sweaters, coffee/tea, pumpkins, Thanksgiving, candy, books.
- Winter: cold, snow, hot cocoa, shoveling, sledding, Christmas, shopping, sickness.
Now, it might seem like a schema could go on forever—and it absolutely could—but the idea is to tease out ideas that are “universal” in nature. For example, pumpkins and leaves are absolutely going to be associated with autumn in anyone’s mind—this is undisputed, meaning it can be considered a universal marker of autumn.
Using the season to your advantage
Once you have certain inalienable ideas for each season, you can harness them to craft a widely effective marketing message. Let’s take a look at an example that you’re probably familiar with today for autumn:
Starbucks’ famous Pumpkin Spice Latte is far and above one of the most popular selling products during the fall, and for good reason—it personifies the season and is now synonymous with autumn! When Starbucks starts to run Pumpkin Spice Latte advertisements, it means summer is officially over. Paired with orange, yellow and brown colors, images of leaves and pumpkins and being offered during a specific time of year, Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte capitalizes on the perfect schema of autumn ideas.
The idea here—as Starbucks has proven—is that if you create messaging that falls in line with the expectations of your audience and plays on the universal traits that are recognized within the season, you’ll come away with a more effective marketing campaign. To add credence to this, think about what would happen if you saw Starbucks advertising its Pumpkin Spice Latte in the middle of the summer—not as appealing, is it?
If you learn to delve into the schema of a season and pull out the unique traits that are supportive of your marketing message, you’ll invariably set yourself up for success within the parameters of the season you’re experiencing. Then, your only problem moving forward is having a product or service to justify the interest in your brand!