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Attracting customers over winter print Print

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Doing business over winter can be a struggle, but with the gloomy weather comes a variety of opportunities for businesses keen to try new ways of attracting business.

The thought of winter has an extra chill for some business owners who worry about bringing in customers in bad weather. But it needn’t be a winter of discontent. If you’re prepared to be creative about attracting business the coming months can be a time to get a jump on your competitors.

Hospitality and retail outlets, in particular, count on people to walk through the door, even when the weather seems to be screaming at them to tuck up at home. To avoid a freeze in your income, it’s time to find new ways to lure customers out in rain, sleet and occasionally snow. If you can, you might just get a head start on the competition.

A good first step is to take another look at your point of difference. Being cheaper than other businesses might be enough in summer, but if you’re located away from a major shopping area, with limited parking, you could find customers go elsewhere in winter.

Here are our five top tips for firing up your business over winter.

1. Winter-proof your business premises

The first thing you should focus on is winter-proofing your business to make it easy and comfortable for customers to shop with you, regardless of the weather. Do you have sufficient heating and insulation? How about clear signage that can be read easily in poor weather and low light?

For cafés, bars or restaurants that rely on outdoor areas, gas heating or a cover from the rain can be a great investment. Some establishments offer patrons blankets or even hot water bottles with their food or drinks.

2. Lure them in

Think from a customer’s point of view and create a 'hook', or an extra perk, to differentiate you from competitors and get them in the door.

What appeals to your customers most: Your location? General convenience? A unique approach to customer service? Your product range or price?

Here are some hooks that you can communicate to customers:

  • Easy parking. If customers can pull up at your door they may choose you over a chain stores in a busy mall.
  • Free delivery of products that could be damaged if carried in bad weather
  • Special seasonal deals for hospitality businesses or winter giveaways - such as a free muffin with every two coffees or a prize draw for in-store purchase.

3. Take your business to your customers

Your customers may be tucked up at home, but reach out and grab their attention with an e-newsletter with special offers, or stimulate their interest through your social media pages. 

Being set up to take orders online or by phone is an obvious advantage. You can add to this by offering free or discounted delivery.

You can also take your business to your customers by sending them marketing material in the post (direct mail). For big-ticket items, it may be worth offering home demonstrations.

4. Collaborate with other businesses

Don’t battle alone if there are other firms in the same boat that you could work with for mutual benefit. Can you team up to provide winter-themed special offers, discounts or package deals that boost sales for all concerned? It could be something like a discount on ski passes when customers buy skis or a winter jacket.

Finally, if business still hasn't picked up, make the most of your spare time by updating your marketing material, researching new products, getting your books up to scratch, or planning your spring sale.

5. Use your time

You may still find you have some quiet spells despite all your efforts, but even this can have an upside. It could be a chance to hit activities you struggle to fit in at other times of the year: reviewing your business plan, reviewing your cash flow forecast, or updating your website and other marketing materials.

If you take advantage of these opportunities, you'll see that winter isn't such a bad season for business after all!

And if you're after more tips, check out out article, 5 ways to get the most out of seasonal trading.

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