Search & The Slow Season: Your Brand’s Big Opportunity

13 Jan

by Hillary Stanley

Now that the holidays are over, many search marketers want to put their feet up and enjoy the down time. But does search ever have a lull? Not really – it is always on. However, the slow season offers search marketers a great branding and growth opportunity.

The Opportunity For Brand Marketers

Whether your slow season occurs after the holiday rush or during the first week of August, it can be the perfect time to focus your efforts on creating brand awareness. Because many marketers turn off their campaigns during this time, the competition can be greatly reduced. As a result, your brand could have increased visibility in the search results, which could lead to new business at a lower cost.

In addition, a focus on brand awareness during the off-season makes sense because many consumers are further up in the purchase funnel then. Rather than making immediate purchases, they are interested in exploring their options and are open to discovering new brands. This mindset, along with the reduced competition mentioned above, creates opportunity for your brand to be discovered by new customers.

Lastly, your slow period is the ideal time work on brand awareness quite simply because you have the time to invest in testing to determine your most effective messaging. Taking the time to do this now will prove invaluable once your peak season hits.

4 Tips To Improve Brand Awareness During The Slow Season

Below are a few tips to help you boost brand awareness and optimize your account during your slow season:

  • Always be present. While it may sound basic to some, many marketers need to be convinced that it is important to continue to advertise and keep their paid search campaigns running during slower times. Sure, traffic may be lower when things are slow; however, savvy marketers know that there is still an opportunity to gain business. During your slow time, ensure that your brand is always present.
    Doing so will allow you to fully capitalize on the visibility opportunity when other companies make the mistake of letting their brands “go dark.” By continuing to protect your branded terms and test and expand your efforts with unbranded keywords, you will be in a stronger position when things get busy again.

  • Clean up your accounts. Paid search accounts are always changing. In fact, chances are that over the past year you most likely added, removed, and changed keywords and ad copy for your campaigns many times over. While it is important to keep campaigns updated, these changes can create clutter that adversely affects performance.
    While things are slow, take the time to review the structure of your campaigns, your keywords, and your ad copy, and remove what you can. Doing so will not only help boost results by ensuring that you are staying relevant, but also help you optimize your accounts throughout the year by keeping them manageable.

  • Review your goals. While you may have clear goals established for 2011, some things in your organization or the marketplace may have changed since they were originally formulated. For instance, the company may have announced plans to launch a new product, change its website, or target a new customer segment. Or perhaps a top competitor may have started a major marketing program. Such changes could greatly impact your goals for the year.

    Fortunately, your slow period is the perfect time to review your goals and make any necessary adjustments. As you revisit them, be sure to find out if your organization has any new initiatives planned so you can be prepared for them throughout the year.


  • Create your strategy. If you have not already created a plan for the year, now is the time to do it. Start by taking a look at 2010 and determine what was successful – and what was not — and leverage your learnings to create a stronger account for the new year. In order to keep the account growing, be sure your plan takes into consideration any additional marketing initiatives your company may be running in 2011, along with your competitors’ efforts.
    You may also want to consider other efforts you have not explored yet. Perhaps this will be the year to try mobile or a Spanish campaign. Lastly, be sure your plan includes tests throughout the year; otherwise, you might forget when things get busy.

While you may be tempted to relax during the off-season, you should capitalize on the opportunity to build brand awareness. Doing so will help you get a leg-up on the competition, and put you in a far stronger position when things pick up again.


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