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Peak season may be great for the bottom line, but this all-consuming period also puts businesses at risk. Being busy demands all your resources, leaving you with little time to implement new strategies, build meaningful relationships with potential customers, and attract loyal customers.

The relatively quieter preseason is the perfect time for you to focus on growth strategies. That way when busy season hits, you can focus on what truly matters: offering unmatched experiences for your customers. These five strategies will help you grow your customer base before the frenzy.

1. Build Relationships With Potential Customers

Nurturing leads will put your brand top of mind before the season even starts. These potential customers that you already have a relationship with — those who've booked experiences with you before or are subscribed to your newsletter — are key to the upcoming season. Keep in regular communication with them through weekly or monthly newsletters featuring your services and experiences to pique interest. Or, build your credibility in the market by sharing how-to articles and tips. Customers with whom you communicate on a regular basis are much more likely to respond to your services than cold leads.Forrester Research found that companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more purchase-ready customers at 33% lower cost. To aid you in this process, an online booking system will give you access to a database of all your previous customers and their contact information.

2. Offer Early-Bird Specials

A great way to generate new customers is by offering early-bird specials. This ensures that your spots fill up before your competitors start promoting heavily in the busy season. By using an online booking system, you can create promo codes for your activities and set early bird pricing before to drive the bottom line. Customers who are planning ahead can view your real-time availability and easily apply their promo code to an activity on their preferred date and time. If you don't want to discount your experiences, you can instead offer other incentives to reward customers who book early - a free T-shirt, included equipment rentals, or lunch and drinks on the house

Generate Customers Before Peak Season

3. Generate Excitement With a Preseason Event

It's a struggle to keep any business booming year round, but especially so for seasonal companies. Generating excitement ahead of the busy season helps you fill up your tours and activities. To do so, host a preseason event to market your business and generate excitement. For example, Winefest holds a popular event called Des Moines Wine Festival each year. To attract customers ahead of the Wine Festival, Winefest hosts a couple of preseason events to get customers talking about what's to come. “The preseason events have been incredibly helpful spreading the buzz and excitement about Winefest," says Natasha Sayles, executive director of Winefest Des Moines. “We've had great success with our Wine Flights and Iron Somm — they help with our overall mission of promoting the wine and food industry in Des Moines. Our summer festival is the core of that.

4. Don't Forget About Previous Customers

Don't lose touch with your current customer base while out chasing new leads. A study by SumAll revealed that 25% to 40% of total revenues from stable businesses came from returning customers. So it's important to build loyalty with former customers — invite them to preseason events, offer incentives to book early, or give them a discount to thank them for any referrals they made in the past. Repeat business doesn't just increase near-term sales — it also increases the likelihood of your business building advocates. Customer advocates will help you drive business in the preseason through word-of-mouth marketing

5. Generate New Customers by Asking for Referrals

Word-of-mouth marketing is still one of the most effective ways to generate new leads for your business. Most customers (90%, according to Nielson) trust the recommendations of people they know. The key to making sure customers talk about your service: ask for referrals. A successful referral program is all about timing. If you ask your customers for referrals too late, they're unlikely to refer; if they do, their recommendation will be lackluster. Ask customers on the spot or in a follow up email (sent within a week) to refer a friend to your business. You can even customize and schedule those follow-up emails with ZOZI Advance. Once you have contact information for referrals in your database, build relationships with them by sending regular emails.

What other strategies have helped you drive sales before the high season? Tell us in the comments below.