Looking for ideas to incorporate the summer season into your marketing plans this year? Whether it’s a busy or quiet time for your business, here are some things you can do to take advantage of the summer months!
Take Your Business Into the Fresh Air
Don’t wait for your customers to come to you; look for ways to get in front of them. Whether you run a retail store, restaurant or provide a service to customers, consider the following:
- Host a Cookout – Invite your customers (past and present) to join your business for a celebration of summer. Use your parking lot or public park and plan on catering yourself (a grill, hot dogs, hamburgers, salad, and cold drinks are fine). Look for ways to make this a worthwhile event for folks to want to join – hire a magician, moon bounce, or give away prizes. Don’t forget to offer incentives (demos or special offers) to those who attend so that they have a good reason to keep frequenting your business over the summer.
- Take Part in Local Markets, Events and Fairs – What better way to win new business? Check out this quick blog from Rieva Lesonsky on how to go about finding the best fit and ensuring your participation is a success: How to Market Your Business at Summer Events, Fairs and Festivals.
- Take Your Food Business on the Road - If you are in the food business, taking a concession stand on the road is a great way to earn money and give new customers a taste of what you’ve got to offer back at your restaurant or store. This article can help you understand how to start up a concession business: Starting a Mobile Food Concession Business.
Spoil Your Customers
I mentioned hosting a cookout above, but what about treating a select group of loyal customers to an appreciation event like an afternoon at a winery, a round of golf, or an afternoon of fishing? Don’t forget, as long as there is a business purpose for these activities—and substantial business discussions occur before, during or afterwards—you can claim the cost of customer entertainment expenses (including meals) as a tax deduction (typically up to 50 percent of the cost).
Hold a Themed Week or Day
Like restaurant week or Small Business Saturday, think of ways to really showcase what your business does for one week or one-day only. You might want to use some of the tips in this blog – events, community charity participation, promotions, and giveaways – or combine them to maximize visibility and interest in what you do. You could even partner up with complementary businesses or those in the same district as you and co-market each other’s products, services and specials with fliers, coupons and teasers. Try to come up with a theme, something like “ABC Town Small Business Week,” “Take a Staycation with Us,” or “Back to School Week” and weave it into all your marketing and advertising.
Give Back to the Community
Community projects are a great way to build your brand and give back to the community. Why not organize or sponsor a community service day or charitable event? Pick a cause that’s a good fit for your business and reach out to the media, in addition to your own marketing, to publicize it. You can also deduct certain expenses related to any volunteer work or charitable giving.
Summer-ize your Marketing Activities
From your website to your email newsletter, look for ways to incorporate summer themes and information that are relevant to your customers. Send out newsletters that showcase your summer specials, but mix it up with good content—summer fashion tips, recipes, or pet care in the heat.
Pre-order low-cost summer promotional items now. Branded goods such as Frisbees, beach balls and drink coolers will ensure your logo is in front of customers all summer long.
Drum Up Business with Promotions
If summer is a slow season for your business, consider offering financial incentives to increase foot traffic. Don’t just dive in with a wholesale across-the-board discount; instead, consider some of the following options:
- Discount Certain Products and Services – Test the market to see if you can shift slower selling products with a limited-time discount (say, for the month of July). Promote your offer to a select segment of your email list, perhaps those who haven’t purchased from you for some time. Monitor the results. If the offer works, then consider extending it to other products and consumers next month.
- Package Promotions – Offer a discount if customers buy more than one product or service. For example, buy a coffee and a donut for $3.50 instead of $5.
- Off-Peak Specials – Many people have more flexible schedules during the summer months. Consider ways to draw people in during your off-peak hours, whether it’s a time-bound discount or another incentive (free corkage, bring a friend for half price, or a free consultation).
Plan for Your High Season – Take the Pulse of your Market
Again, if summer is your slow season, use the time wisely and start planning your marketing activities for the rest of the year. Conduct market research to gauge what your customers think of your business and the products and services you offer. What could you do better/more of/change? Is there a certain product that they’d like to see you carry? Are there any market or demographic trends that might impact your business in the coming year? Market research doesn’t have to cost much money; this blog explains some free resources that can help: Conducting Market Research? Here are 5 Official Sources of Free Data That Can Help.
SBA’s SizeUp Tool can also help you benchmark your business against competitors, map your customers and locate the best places to advertise.
You can also use surveys to gauge customer buying and spending habits. Use this data to inform your product marketing strategy and any other changes you may need to make in your business before your high season starts.