Spare a thought for the ground squirrel. Every autumn, they gorge themselves at the Arctic all-you-can-eat buffet. Then bloated and exhausted from that hyper-activity, they collapse into a season-long sleep.
When the first rays of spring rise over the glacial landscape, and the squirrel wipes the sleep from its eyes, it will have lost 25% of its body weight. That's right. A full quarter.
Skin and bones, it leaves its slumber to start again: the annual pattern of feast and famine.
It's not too dissimilar a pattern to many brands and their marketing plans. But while a squirrel has to do this to survive, smart brands can use smart solutions to keep awake (and eating) all winter long.
A brand may experience marketing troughs for several reasons. It could be that sales follow a seasonal sales pattern, for instance toys over Christmas or swimming pools before summer.
It could also happen that economic uncertainty prompts marketers to scale down on communication. Whatever the reason, if you leave the marketplace, the principle of 'out-of-sight, out-of-mind' applies, and your brand, like the squirrel, will lose the punching weight that you worked so hard creating.
You may even find, emerging after a long slumber that the world around you has changed. For Arctic squirrels, it might be global warming, for brands, it may be the emergence of new competitors, the constant rise of social media and new technologies or even its main competitors staying vocal in the downturn.
All of these scenarios are anathema to the slumbering brand.
So how do you maintain a presence? How does a brand stay awake and active all year round?
The first and foremost rule is to plan for your peaks and troughs. If you are a seasonal business, you'll know when these occur. Obviously, the lion's share of your budget will go into before and during your busy periods. But instead of going into deep sleep straight after, run smaller follow-up campaigns. They don't have to include block-buster TV commercials. They can make use of cost-effective social media, direct marketing campaigns, or innovative guerrilla marketing. That's why you employ a marketing agency. Tell them to get creative.
Whatever your solution is, keep reminding your market that you're out there.
Lying dormant and doing nothing is the worse thing you can do. You'll lose impetus and market share, and come spring, like the squirrel, you'll have to work yourself to a standstill just to get back to where you already were!