411 Blog

Winter proof your business



During the winter months, many brick-and-mortar Canadian businesses face challenges getting people in the door with significantly less foot traffic to depend on. On top of that, people are less social in the winter resulting in less word of mouth business. So if people aren’t browsing local stores and aren’t socializing, where are they? They’re probably in the comfort of their homes on the internet.

Canadians spend more time online than any other country and almost double the global average at 45 hours per week. It makes for a great opportunity to market your business online to target potential customers and generate sales opportunities especially during slow times.


Here are 6 ways to offset the impact of winter on your business:


1. Limited time promotions

Promotions are an excellent way to grab people’s attention and motivate your prospective customers to take action. Advertising your sale on your website is a good way to build awareness. Incorporating a countdown clock for your promotion end date is a great feature to build momentum and create urgency.

Promotions can also be advertised through social media. Social media marketing has the potential to reach masses of people very quickly. The more unique your promotion is the more likely people will share it, so be creative.


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2. Offer incentives to get more business

Canadians love being rewarded for their loyalty. The average Canadian participates in 12.2 loyalty programs and that’s up 25% in the last four years. Loyalty programs are an effective way to generate repeat business. Loyal customers will spend more with you, buy from you more often and are more likely to share their experiences.

A referral program is another way to drive more business. The incentive for people referring you does not necessarily have to be cash. People have also responded well to discounts on their own purchases. Referrals are the most trustworthy form of advertising there is. It’s an inexpensive way to grow your customer base and create opportunities to have more loyal customers.


3. Cash management

You probably have a good grasp on how the winter affects your business. Putting money aside to deal with anticipated cash flow shortages is a good defensive strategy. You should watch your spending closely during this time and make sure you are not spending on things that could be put off until business picks up.

When things are slow, it probably means you have a lot more time. You finally have a chance to look through the books to see what you’re owed. You may surprise yourself at how much old business you can collect on with a little effort.


4. Review your operations

Are you able to reduce your hours without affecting sales? Are you able to operate by appointment only during this time? To make sure you’re not missing opportunities, we can make your website, Google My Business profile and  social media accounts “bookable” to allow people looking into your service to request appointments.

A slow time is a chance to really look at your processes to become more efficient. Maybe you can save money by using another supplier or by doing something differently. Any money saved is money earned. At 411.ca we are small business champions – we help thousands of entrepreneurs save on services they already use every year.


5. Segment your contact list

A slow time is the perfect time to go through your contact list and separate the good contacts from the cold leads. Segmented lists save you time by targeting people who are most likely to do business with you. It helps your efforts go further by marketing to specific groups in the most effective way.

These are our suggested segmented lists:

  • Hot Contacts: These are your best customers. They’re the ones who engage, refer their friends and family and keep coming back for more. Your hot contacts will be the first ones to jump at the opportunity to join a loyalty or referral program.
  • Warm Contacts: These are people who don’t buy from you often, but want to stay up to date with your business and maintain a relationship. Let this group know about your promotions to get them out more often.
  • Warm Leads: These are people who have not bought from you yet, but have shown interest. You can market promotions to them, but include them in only the most exciting ones. Too much marketing could potentially turn them away. Your focus with this group should be to build brand awareness and make your business more approachable.
  • Recent Leads: These are leads that you have recently acquired and are worth following up on even though they haven’t responded yet. You know from experience that if you keep working them, a percentage of these leads will convert into customers.



6. Plan for your busy time

There’s no better time to plan than when it’s slow. You can focus, take your time and really think things through. If you can figure out ways to get more out of your peak time, that’s time well spent. Your busy time should be spent serving as many customers as possible, not planning. Looking forward to better times also changes the energy and can be very empowering.


Don’t let your business get the winter blues. As a business owner you know that every problem is an opportunity. If customers aren’t coming into your location, then there’s a huge opportunity to reach them online. Digital marketing is your most cost effective form of advertising compared to other options like print ads, radio ads or billboards. Our new Sync digital marketing solutions help small businesses reap the same great benefits that come from having a complete online presence as large companies.


Call us at 1-866-411-4411 today for a free consultation.




Dwight has a double major in Marketing and Business. He is passionate about helping small businesses grow and enjoys writing to provoke thought and start conversations.