Just because business is slow doesn’t mean you should slow down too. We have heard from clients heading into their down season that they are going to cut back on their summer marketing output and then ramp up just before business picks up. In theory that sounds great because you are saving money, but in reality, it means you would be setting yourself back from all of the great strides you made earlier with your marketing strategy. In the long run, that might actually cost you more money.
So what should you do when it comes to your summer marketing? Well, for one thing, you should use summer to your advantage, whether thematically or because it’s a bit slower for you. There are a number of things you can do that you might not have time for when business is booming. There are also a number of ways you can work to attract new customers using summer-related topics and events.
Use technology to your advantage
Sure social media is normally a huge distraction, but you can be assured that if your target audience is on vacation, they have their phones with them. While a small group of people might actually unplug while on vacation, you will likely notice an onslaught of photos on your social feeds of friends who are on vacation – if it’s not on social media did it really happen? While summer may slow down for your sales, time spent on social media generally increases. Hit your target audience while they are a captive audience on social media.
If you are already quite active on social, consider what changes in summer schedules, if any, might affect the visibility of your posts.
When advertising on social channels, geo-targeting will help you reach the people who didn’t leave town – if you are trying to get people into your storefront. Otherwise, capitalize on online shopping for those that aren’t around. Perhaps they are too far to get to your store, but – you deliver!
Think smart when it comes to content
Keep social media posts topical. Follow the weather trends to use it to your advantage and play on what your target audience might already be doing. For example: “Reading in the park? Pick up your next great book!” Or “Learn how to make the perfect summer bevvy featuring your favourite spirits brand!” Utilize your editorial calendar wisely to keep track of local holidays, festivals, and other dates of interest that you might be able to use in your outreach. Father’s Day is a big one, and it’s coming up! But also don’t be afraid to jump on the more obscure days like National Ice Cream Day!
Focus on customer relationships
If new business isn’t in the cards, then focus on the customer relationships you already have to make them stronger. You may also consider starting a loyalty program to encourage referrals from your best clients. Give them a reason to recommend you – a client appreciation event, a special offer for loyal customers, a gift with purchase, or a solution to a pain point. A great example of a company that is reaching customers through their pain point is Chuck E. Cheese. They recently started a program called Sensory Sensitive Sundays for kids with autism and other special needs where one Sunday per month kids can enjoy the games and space with less crowds and noise, dimmed lighting, no show or music, and no mascots. The pilot program has seen huge success rates and it is rolling out in multiple locations.
There will also always be those customers that got away, so you could focus on those lost customers. Reconnect with them and offer incentive to return.
Consider great summer deals
Who can resist a good sale? Look at your list of special holidays and create great sales campaigns. Some examples are: Buy One Get One, back to school, summer clearance, Canada Day Sale, A July discount on a specific service, etc.
A fun one could also be that as the temperature goes up, so does the discount. This works great if you sell ice cream or cold beverages, but it could also work on any other product or service. Make it relevant to you!
For most people, their first instinct when nice weather hits is to get outside. There is no reason why you shouldn’t operate your business that way as well! Hit the streets – a street team can capitalize on the heightened traffic on weekends near attractions and around festivals. It’s also a prime opportunity to get to know some of the businesses in your area to start to build potential partnerships.
Revamp your business
Take advantage of the slow season to better your business. Take a course to help open yourself up to new possibilities. You could also consider revamping your brand and re-launching with the new look and messaging in the fall. Considering your content and storytelling, maybe summer would be a great time to revamp (or actually start) your blog!
Give yourself a mini-break
Don’t be afraid to automate so you can take a bit of a break. While you should never “set it and forget it” you also don’t want to burn yourself out. Take a little bit of a longer lunch or leave early on a Friday with the comfort that your summer marketing will still go on.
While this is last on the list, it is certainly not least. Think ahead – the holidays are coming! You should always be at least one season ahead of the game when it comes to your marketing strategy, maybe more! A fun way to introduce this forward-thinking early is to have a “Christmas in July” event. It helps shoppers to get a head start and on what’s to come, but it also helps you to get going on what you should focus on.
While marketing in the slower summer months can seem worthless, if you do it right, it can have a great effect on your business. Put in the effort because, chances are, most of your competitors probably won’t.
A version of this article was originally posted to the SongBird Marketing Communications blog.