Summer is now well on its way. Soon enough, schools will be closed and offices will be all but empty. That could mean booming sales or a challenging slump depending on the type of business you run. Whichever category you think you fall into, summer offers a unique opportunity to approach your marketing with extra creativity. Here are some ideas to help you use this period to the full.
1. Do something for the kids
The school summer holidays can be a testing time for parents, so they’ll be keenly searching for activities to keep the kids occupied. If you’re up for something lively, you could hire children’s entertainment that fits accordingly with your business. With enough space, this could be a beach-themed disco or party. With less of it (and if you’d prefer something more serene), face painters, storytellers or a simple setup with pencils, paper and puzzles could work just as well. And as much as the entertainment is for the little people, you’re also providing respite for parents, so use your marketing to make them — as well as the kids — feel welcome.
2. Collaborate with other businesses
All kinds of businesses experience a dip in footfall and sales through the summer, so why not club together and pool your marketing efforts? You could set up a product stand in each other’s stores, or simply run a joint social media campaign to highlight summertime offers.
Before you jump into a collaboration, ask yourself these questions:
- Is there any risk of competition?
- Do they share my values?
- How much exposure and extra business can they help me get?
If it’s a good fit, prepare everything in writing to guarantee a fair exchange.
3. Create an ‘awareness day’ event
With businesses competing heavily for attention through the summer, try to draw people in with an imaginatively-themed event instead of something generic. July and August are packed with awareness days that can be used to inspire an event that’s fun and memorable, such as:
- Don’t Step On a Bee Day - July 10
- Yorkshire Day - August 1
- International Cat Day - August 8
- International Left Handers Awareness Day - August 13
Whatever your theme, cater for the tastes of a sun-hungry summer crowd. Use your outdoor space if you have one, and if you don’t, consider running your event after sunset or on a rainy day.
The added benefit of theming your event around an awareness day is that you can tap into the broader marketing activity taking place. This could be as simple as using associated social media hashtags throughout your promotion.
4. Run flash discounts
Discounts are a tried and tested method of incentivising people to purchase your products or services. During the summer lull, it’s time to think outside the box and use the power of the moment to drive business. For example, the British summertime is notoriously unpredictable. If you specialise in hearty, homely cuisine (not typically a summertime favourite), those rainy days that take people by surprise are an opportunity to hit them with a catchy discount and drive them in store. To create a sense of urgency, post a tasty-looking photo on social media and let people know how little time they have left to make use of the discount.
5. Change your opening hours
As the seasons change, so too do customers’ buying habits and the business approach you should adopt. You may find it lucrative to open and close later in the summer as people spend more time outside and stay out longer in the evening. In other cases, an earlier start might be more fitting. Square Analytics enables you to see what you’re selling when, on which days and whether new or existing customers generate most of your sales. With this insight, you can make informed decisions about how to work with people’s fluctuating schedules and tastes.
6. Open a pop-up
When the crowds don’t come to you, it’s time to go to them. Planned well, a pop-up restaurant or shop could make up for the potential loss you make in your bricks-and-mortar location through the summer. It also gives you a chance to specialise your offering for the summertime crowd, and even try out a new summer-themed idea that you’ve been mulling over.
Always do your research before settling on a concept. When setting up at a street food market, your idea has to stand out from the crowd. Similarly, if you’re aiming to pop-up somewhere like a festival, it’s crucial that you get to know the tastes of the audience you’ll be serving.
7. Give out freebies
You can use the power of freebies to transform customers’ experience of your brand, keeping it fresh and front of mind through the summer lull. Invite passersby in from the heat to enjoy an ice-cold glass of Pimm’s whilst perusing your clothing lines. Or offer a refreshing facial spritz and sunscreen to sunbathers in the park, using that moment to tell them about your business. Keep your freebies themed around summer — what do people crave at this time of year that can be used to draw them in?
It’s important to have clear goals when you’re giving things away. Consider who you’re targeting and what you’d like them to do in return for their freebie — don’t approach anyone and everyone. If it’s not possible or appropriate to encourage an instant purchase, think of other goals such as getting them to sign up to your mailing list.
8. Take a break
There can be a temptation as a small business owner to refuse yourself any time off, causing all kinds of setbacks in the short and long term. If the summer period really is that bad for revenue, it’s probably the best time for you to recoup and plan ahead. Enjoy the opportunity to step back and take a high-level view of your company. You could use it to get your finances in order, start a company blog to increase awareness or plan a seasonal marketing campaign for your peak season. Achieving growth isn’t always about knuckling down and grafting — sometimes it’s about getting to know your business better, and ensuring you have everything you need for the future.