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A guest post by Eliott Wolbrom of Tristate Camera.

You know the saying that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger? I firmly believe that phrase to be highly pertinent to the dead season. Sure, we want to be busy all of the time, but truth be told, you can use the downtime to your advantage. Your downtime can serve as a necessary catalyst for your business.

Most businesses experience seasonal busy times and downtimes. For example, in my industry (mainly retail electronics and photography), the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the busiest time of the year. In fact, I spend at least two months prior to Thanksgiving preparing for our holiday season. This includes buying, researching, advertising, and putting all sorts of marketing strategies in place to optimize those six weeks in the holiday season. But the period between mid-January and late February, as well as late July through Labor Day, are typically deemed the “dead season.”

So, here are three tips for making the most out of those times.

1. Use this time to reach out to your customers.
Downtime is a great time to reach out to your customers with an email talking about your brand, asking them to fill out an incentive-backed survey (i.e. give them a reason to spend their precious time helping you), and just connecting with them on any level to let them know “I still care about you, even though you aren’t buying anything from me.” The survey should have questions that can give you an idea of what to expect from your customers for the next six months. What do they want? Were they happy with their last transaction from you? What can you do to better invoke their trust and to ensure some form of recollection in your brand when it’s time for them to take out their wallets and shop?

2. Experiment.
Downtime is also an excellent opportunity to test-drive some ideas you’ve been mulling over. Feel free to not only think out of the box, but to actually act out of the box during these slow weeks. The repercussions of a bad decision will be far less taxing on you should it backfire (which some ideas undoubtedly do), and you can really analyze the strategy from a protected mode, so to speak. Be sure to document and analyze everything that happens so that you can launch a perfected version of it come serious time.

3. Check out the competition.
I also like to use my off season to perform full-blown reconnaissance on my competition. I’ll spend a good portion of my downtime studying my competitors’ products, pricing trends, technology, and marketing strategies. I’ll then use the data to develop and then execute a refined attack on my market, knowing what to expect from my competitors. Trust me, they’re doing the very same thing to you, and it’s what makes business in a capitalist society so great.

In summary, don’t let slow business get you down. There are expected business downtimes, but instead of panicking, use that time to take a deep breath, reconnect with your core market, test-drive new ideas, analyze your competitor’s empire, and develop an executable plan of action for the future.

Remember, what makes us weaker can actually make us much stronger---and much smarter.

Eliott Wolbrom is a marketing manager at Tristate Camera.

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