I recently returned from a family trip to Disney World. Every year, we make sure to plan a few family vacations, but the big one alternates between Disney World and Hawaii. For my own personal relaxation, I’m thinking of changing things up so two Hawaii trips equal one Disney World trip. But that is a topic for another time!
One of the things I enjoy most about going to Disney World is just how smart the business people running the entire operation are. For example, my family and I always try to go during the slowest times of the year. One of those times happens to be January — which is the perfect time get away from these freezing Boise temperatures. This year, we went a bit earlier than normal due to my other travel plans, and when we arrived, we quickly discovered that the week following New Year’s Day is the week when they host the Walt Disney World Marathon.
You see, Disney realized that the week after New Year’s is super slow from a numbers standpoint, so they set out to change things. They did an incredibly smart thing by finding a group of people who are fanatical about their sport and created an amazing experience that these individuals would love to be a part of.
Ultimately, Disney had 25,000 people register to run anywhere from a 5K up to 43 miles through all four of their parks. The marathon only went on for a few days, but you know what? Those 25,000 racers didn’t just run the marathon and go home.
No, they brought family and friends and stayed both before and after the event to ride the rides and meet princesses and princes. They shopped in the gift shops and stayed in the hotels. They bought food and drinks and gifts. They added Park Hopper tickets.
An estimated 75,000 additional people were in the park on the days before, during, and after the marathon. Think about how much that helps sales during one of Mickey Mouse’s slowest times of the year!
A Promotional Plan That Isn’t a Discount
The key here is that Disney didn’t simply run a promotion. They built their plan around their choice to appeal to a specific group of crazy-passionate people. By targeting marathoners, they were able to get more than 75,000 extra people in the park without discounting them. In fact, the 25,000 marathon runners actually paid extra to run the marathon.
This is the genius behind the promotion. Not only did they get tons of extra revenue and fill hotel rooms during the slow season, but they did it without giving a discount.
Don’t Let the Slow Season Sneak Up on You
What is your slow season? Do you typically offer discounts to combat it or do you just accept that it is slower that time of year? Can you plan an event that people want to come to? Can you offer a bonus item during the slow season instead of a discount? Is it possible to find a way to get people to buy your products or services and spend additional money like those folks over at Disney?
So many of us simply don’t plan for the slow season. Instead, we let the season happen to us each year. It’s kind of like those people who get surprised that Christmas is only four days away. I can tell you that for my 39 years on this planet, Christmas has always been on Dec. 25. Not once has it changed. So the fact that it sneaks up on people is a mystery to me.
Don’t allow your slow season to sneak up on you without a plan in place to at combat it.
Plan for Your Next Big Marketing Success
Before I conclude this article, I want to give you an alternative to planning more sales and marketing for the slow season. This is not an alternative I would advise, but one I know that a few people subscribe to.
You could, as some business owners do, simply accept the slow period and do nothing. The reasoning for this choice is typically that a lot of business owners don’t want to push and spend money when no one is paying attention.
Depending on your business model, this might very well make sense. But make sure you fully analyze your situation before resorting to this approach or you might be missing out on your next big marketing success.
Regardless of which direction you go, don’t let the slow season sneak up on you. If you’re going to work hard and grow through it, make your plan now. If you’re not going to stress about it and would rather take a vacation, then get those preparations in place. Either way, make sure you have a plan.