Is it a good idea to spend money on marketing when your business is closed for the holidays?
For those utilising online advertising, it’s not uncommon for pest control businesses to pause advertising at this time of year either because they are “fully booked out” or because they are closing for the Christmas period. But is this the right thing to do?
Having a fully booked schedule weeks in advance is clearly a good thing. For many, being fully booked out means a full schedule 2-3 weeks in advance, with potential customers not prepared to wait longer for a pest service. But we also have customers booked out nearly two months in advance, such is the benefit of a great reputation and loyal customer base. But if you’re fully booked out, should you continue advertising?
The short answer is yes, but with a few caveats. If you are looking to actively grow the business, you should have plans in place to hire extra staff to increase capacity. With summer being the peak of the pest season it is the key time of year to capture new customers and therefore continued advertising is a must, as long as you have resources to capture the new business.
If you’re happy with the size of your business and want to control the advanced bookings, it is an ideal time to put your prices up. It is a simple supply and demand equation, so why not utilise this opportunity to make your business more profitable. In this case you would still continue advertising, but maybe tweak the messaging a bit to back up the value in your services.
It’s also worth remembering the macro drivers in the advertising market at this time of year. Remember that advertising is more expensive in the pre-Christmas period, namely in November and December, due to increased competition. Not only are there more pest control companies advertising, but of course the general level of advertising across retail businesses increases to capture the all-important Christmas sales. This increased competition drives up the cost per click. Similarly after Christmas with the significant drop in retail advertising, the lack of competition means advertising becomes cheaper.
As such it may be worth backing off a little with the advertising spend in the pre-Christmas period and move the spend into the post-Christmas period, to get a better return on investment.
There are two other reasons for continuing advertising during the Christmas period, albeit at a lower level if you’re fully booked out. The first consideration is that Google and Facebook use complicated algorithms to determine the position of each ad. By stopping your ads, it stops the data flowing into the algorithm. When you decide to start up the ads again, it can take time for fresh data to enter the algorithm, which can mean several weeks before your ads get back to the previous performance level. The best analogy I have read is that you should treat your ad campaigns like a helicopter. If you land the helicopter and the rotors stop spinning, it is going to take time to start up again and get enough rotor speed to take off.
The second reason for continuing advertising during the Christmas period and indeed the reason you should always have some level of advertising, is awareness. The decision to click on an ad or call your office is rarely a result of seeing a single ad and clicking on it. A tracking study we ran with a large Sydney Pest Control company indicated that the vast majority of consumers would have seen some sort of advertising three of four times before actually calling the office. Net, even if you are fully booked up, some low level of advertising on Google or Facebook will ensure your brand is still visible, which may result in a later sale… the advertising before Christmas could well lead to a sale later the following year.
A word about advertising over the Christmas week itself. Many companies shut down for a week – a well-earned rest! For those that remain active, this is indeed a great chance to pick up business, often at a premium price, in a less competitive market. After all, pests don’t stop for Christmas, so it’s worth advertising to make sure you’re the first company potential customers call. If you do decide on a shutdown, make sure your communication and website clearly state your shutdown period and services offered. Even for those shutting down, advertising is still a good option to ensure you’re all booked out when you return from vacation. Just make sure a member of staff or a virtual assistant is in place to field calls and take bookings while you’re away.