Planning a Water Lab Marketing Calendar Around Every Season: Tips for Busy Managers

This time of year, lab managers like you are juggling many responsibilities, and it's all too easy to let a marketing plan for the year ahead slip to the bottom of your to-do list. But if you invest some time now into planning your marketing calendars, your water testing lab will already be well-positioned for growth come 2020.

Why Your Lab Needs a Marketing Calendar

The market for water testing is growing, according to Market Watch, so it's important to promote your services to capture the attention — and budget — of this wide pool of prospective customers. A smart and carefully planned marketing calendar can help ensure your brand rises to the top of the competition.

In many water labs, there's a seasonal ebb and flow. During peak water testing season, it's easy to get so caught up in the high workload that marketing efforts can slip. They're not urgent at the moment, sure, but they're important for the long-term health of your business. And when slow season rolls around, you're busy catching up on email, organizing the lab, reordering supplies, or even taking a well-deserved vacation.

Communication Tips:
  • Adjust your marketing approaches according to the season to ensure you address diverse customer needs throughout the year.
  • Fill in the gaps in your marketing calendar by sharing information about testing services that drive revenue year-round.
  • Don't commit to more than you can handle. Your marketing calendar should be a priority, not a distraction.

But each season presents key opportunities to appeal to customers, both current and prospective. By planning your calendar around and ahead of these seasons, you can ensure that the resources you spend on marketing pay off because your efforts will be both targeted to your customers' needs and tied into your broader business goals.

Winter: Warn Customers About Cold Weather Water Issues

This time of year can be slow for water testing because water is frozen in many regions. Take this opportunity to remind your drinking water customers that the salt highway crews apply to icy roads can run off into groundwater. According to Chemical & Engineering News, the salt can raise chloride levels, which can contaminate drinking water sources and corrode pipes.

Use this information to market water testing services to people responsible for ensuring safe water and intact plumbing systems. Make sure your customers — especially people using well water — are aware of these risks and the importance of testing water during the winter.

Spring: Encourage Testing for Runoff Pollutants

When temperatures rise, rivers will thaw, creating a rush of water testing needs as spring runoff moves and deposits pollutants.

Set up an email series so that your lab is top of mind when the spring thaw brings potential pesticides and agricultural runoff to water sources. The ideal time to test drinking water is during late spring or early summer when bacteria or nitrate are most likely to be present, according to the National Ag Safety Database. Make sure your customers are aware of these facts, and also relay that you expect to be busy in the coming weeks.

Recreational water facilities likely have a date when they expect to open for the season. They might not realize that they'll have to complete their water tests by a certain date to meet testing requirements. In your marketing calendar, add a reminder for late spring to let recreational water customers know your lead time so they can plan accordingly.

Summer: Use the Busy Season to Upsell

This is peak season for pool owners and local health departments responsible for testing beach water. Take this time to reach out to these customers and let them know you're there to help. This is also a great time to upsell additional services beyond basic testing, such as on-site testing or picking up samples for an additional fee. Recreational water illnesses aren't a flashy topic for marketing purposes, but your customers will thank you for helping them keep their good reputation.

Summer is also a good time to schedule marketing campaigns targeting wastewater treatment plants, especially ones in coastal areas because they'll likely be operating at full capacity during this time. Even though these services are less seasonal than other customer segments, if there is a drought, you will need to find alternative sources of water to test in order to keep business flowing. Additionally, many tourist areas — such as popular beach towns — are especially prone to high seasonal water demand.

Fall: Target Agricultural Clients

When recreational water testing slows to a halt in the fall, shift your marketing focus to agricultural clients. Many crops are planted and harvested in the fall, and water testing on farms is critical to ensuring food safety, as recent E. coli outbreaks have proven. Just as your pool customers want to ensure their members don't get sick, farmers will want to be confident that their products are safe for everyone.

Set reminders in your marketing calendar to spread the word about how your lab can aid farmers through timely testing services.

How to Fill the Gaps in Your Marketing Calendar

Start planning your marketing for 2020 with seasonal differences in mind. Then, fill in the blank spots with marketing strategies, such as online advertising, social media, and direct customer outreach, that can be implemented any time of year. Don't forget to target customers that need your services year-round, such as:

  • Heathcare facilities
  • Dental offices
  • Consumers living near industrial plants, farms, or sewage treatment facilities

Use your own data to find trends that are in demand. Were there any unexpected busy periods last year? Running a simple revenue report should give you clues to help you anticipate the seasons better in 2020.

A robust marketing calendar can help you grow your business, but as a busy lab manager, you don't want this task to overshadow your other duties. Don't fill your calendar with overly ambitious marketing campaigns. Instead, set realistic goals like sending one email campaign per month. And start planning now, so you can ensure you're making smart choices and targeting the right customers at the right time.

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Kelly McSweeney
Science and Technology Writer
Armed with a master's degree in writing and a decade of professional work in scientific publishing, Kelly McSweeney writes about science and technology innovations. She translates complicated topics into stories that capture the curiosity of everyone from casual readers to technical experts. Kelly has degrees from Emerson College and the University of Vermont, and has worked on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics publications at Wiley, In Compliance magazine, and Pearson. Her articles about the latest research are published by ZDNet, Northrop Grumman, and Wiley.