Spring quickly gave away to summer, and with great weather comes great opportunities for marketing and branding your business. Depending on the industry, some small businesses find that summer brings a seasonal lull in sales and general business activity. Others find that the warm weather causes business to heat up.
1. Plan for the holidays
No, this doesn’t mean look ahead to Black Friday and the Christmas season. The summer plays host to three major holidays: Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. These weekends also happen to be some of the most popular sales-holidays as well, which means you should be looking for ways to throw your hat into the ring and attract customers.
If you missed Memorial Day, don’t sweat it. Just be sure to double your efforts on the other two. Find great deals you can offer to your customers on these holidays and create digital and physical marketing collateral that adheres to the theme of the celebrations.
2. Treat your customers to some fun
We’ve all heard about taking potential business partners or big-name clients out to a sporting event or high-class venue for entertainment purposes. But as the Small Business Association wrote, there’s no reason why a small business can’t do this for all of its customers too.
The SBA suggested hosting a community-wide picnic at a local park or partnering with a local restaurant, winery or bar as a way to say thank you to your customers and build goodwill throughout your community of fans. The key thing to remember: You can claim all customer entertainment as a tax deduction as long as you can state a clear business purpose for it. But while we’re on the subject, don’t forget about your big clients or partners. Treat them to a special event as well to keep the relationship strong.
3. Have a giveaway
This one sounds like a run-of-the-mill marketing technique, but the reason why it’s so popular is that it just works. Giveaways are a great way to get people excited and involved, all while interacting with you. If you can work a summer theme into a giveaway, that’s a perfect way to capitalize on the season, but even if that doesn’t quite make sense for what you do, there are some creative ways around that.
Consider that for many people, summer is a time of vacation, leisure and relaxation. Even if you can’t give away something directly related to your business, something like an iPad or Kindle makes for a highly desirable companion on any trip. Use this to drum up some excitement for your giveaway.
4. Hold a contest
Between the NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup, the beginning of baseball season and the legions of backyard athletes, everyone’s competitive spirit is high during the summer. Why not capitalize on this with a contest?
Brainstorm some ways you can hold a contest that ties into your business. Here is where you’ll want to do something that has a direct tie-in with whatever you do. For example, a restaurant can hold an eating contest where the winner gets a weekly free meal for the rest of the summer. A professional cleaning service can hold a “Worst Looking Room” contest – applicants can submit a picture of a space that needs cleaning on social media and the winner gets a free cleaning. For added incentive, you could give everyone who participates a discount on their next visit to you. Regardless of what it is, make sure your contest is fun and humorous while providing a real incentive to join.
5. Attend networking and business events
This is something you should do whether business is booming this summer or whether you’re subject to a seasonal lull. Look at your local SBA chapter or Chamber of Commerce to see what events are on the horizon this summer and make it a point to attend. This is a great way to meet potential business partners and mentors that can help you year round.
But don’t sweat it if the professional scene has thinned out due to vacations and other summer obligations. There are always people around, so you can even host your own informal event (at a beachside bar, perhaps) that brings a few local leader together for a meeting of the minds.
6. Target the vacation crowd
This may not apply to your location, but if it does, you could set yourself up for a major boost this summer. If vacationers are flocking to your locale, give them a reason to stop in and see you. One idea is that if they can show an out-of-state ID, they’ll get a discount for their first purchase with you. Tie the locals in too – if a resident of your area brings a friend from out of town to your business, let them know they’ll get a discount or freebie the next time they come in.
Don’t forget to spread the word about this either. Make sure you rank highly in your local search rankings, since those unfamiliar with the area will undoubtedly be using their smartphones to find places to go. Additionally, you can partner up with local hotels and restaurants to have your marketing collateral placed in their buildings.
What you can do right now
Summer’s already underway, so don’t wait any longer to start marketing yourself for the season. Done right, summer marketing can be a great way to overcome a slight dip in traffic. Here are some things you should do right now:
- Plan a giveaway or contest that ties into your business’ offerings.
- Create promotions for upcoming holidays.
- Look for networking events that you can attend. If there aren’t any, hold your own.
- Treat your customers – find a way to get them gathered for food and entertainment (not to mention a nice tax write off).
- Shore up your local search rankings and partner with other tourist destinations to get the word out once the out-of-staters show up en masse.