Summer can be both a blessing and a curse for a small business. While more people are out and about, much of their expendable income is going towards vacation and travel, leaving many businesses suffering through a sales slump.
But before jumping straight to seasonality, it’s important to rule out other issues such as your incentives, training and value proposition.
Consider profit, revenue, and sales
Feel like your business is in a slump, and you don’t know why?
It’s probably in profit and revenue—at least, that’s what Adrian Miller, a business growth advisor, sales trainer and content marketer, says. And if it’s profit and revenue, it’s probably your sales.
Adrian gives tons of great tips on getting your company out of its sales slumps, from incentives to training and improving where you add value. Check out what she has to say in the full seven-minute video:
How to manage seasonal business
Many people believe they can either go on vacation and experience a slowdown or they can skip the vacation and keep the business humming. To avoid this dilemma, there are two important tools in the entrepreneur’s Small Business Success toolbox:
- A "second in command"
- An automation engine
Your "second in command" can be a business partner, office manager, VP, or even a virtual assistant. It’s the person you put in charge of running the business while you’re gone, giving them full responsibility to make the decisions—and deliver results—while you’re gone.
Your automation engine keeps the sales, marketing and operations chugging along while you’re on the beach, playing golf, sleeping, or doing whatever you prefer on vacation. You need a conveyor belt that’s always on, bringing customers your way, even when you are gone. That’s what a good automation engine will do for you, but you must set it up to make it happen. If you don’t have an automation engine set up this summer, take steps to get it in place so you can take your next vacation in peace, knowing your business is humming back home.
Once you have these in place, then it’s time to look at how you can use this season to capitalize on reaching new customers?
Below are a few tips on how to best leverage your marketing budget to draw new customers during the longer days of summer.
Seasonal marketing ideas
Make strategic partnerships
A great way to open yourself up to a new segment of customers during a slow spell is to partner with an established business that serves your target demographic in a different, but complementary, way.
In order to align with the right partner, make sure to be specific about what type of customer you’re hoping to attract.
Associating your brand with a well-regarded, established brand that caters to the same markets is a great way to improve brand recognition while expanding your customer base in a strategic fashion.
Get out into the local world
Summer in most places means a plethora of outdoor activities. From concerts to festivals, and picnics in the park, there are scores of opportunities for businesses to get out into their communities and catch the eyes of potential new customers.
Sponsoring a local event benefits your business in many ways. First, it serves as visible proof that your company is involved in and supports your local community. It also provides you an opportunity to feature things like booths, signage, giveaways, and demonstrations—all chances to introduce people to your product or service that may have never heard of you before.
Building sales, giveaways, and promotions around these sometimes silly "holidays" can be a fun way to inject some lighthearted energy into your summer marketing that will get the attention of both returning and new customers. Get more information on year-round “holiday” opportunities by visiting the National Day Calendar.
Make deals for a "limited time only"
A great way to bring old customers out of hiding and grab the eyes of new ones is to create a fun and trendy product with limited availability for the season.
Think strategically about items that people need and want the most on long, hot summer days and then find a way to integrate that with your brand identity. Limiting availability to the summer season drives customers to immediate action.
Host an event
Summer is typically a season when customers have more downtime. With school not in session and people longing to spend time outdoors, there is a natural opportunity for businesses to host dynamic events to not only celebrate with existing customers but attract new ones, too.
You can craft something as simple as an after-hours sip and shop or a seasonal chef’s tasting with selected wine pairings. Or you can take it to the next level and sponsor an outing with customers, like a boat cruise or a night at the opera. Think about what your target audience enjoys and try to meet them where they are.
How to attract new customers to your seasonal business
Whether your register doesn’t stop during December or your lawn mower is going in circles in July, you may experience times where your seasonal business is faced with the challenge of generating revenue.
In the U.S., there are about 10,000 lawn care service providers according to the Professional Landcare Network. How do these companies, and others that face seasonal obstacles, keep cash coming in, even after the busy season has come to a close?
Here are six tips that can help you give your seasonal business an off-season boost:
Extend your season
Make sure you’re maximizing your season. Oftentimes, seasonal businesses cut themselves short of selling time by a month or two.
Double check and see when people are interested in the services you offer and focus on selling a few weeks prior—and continue a few weeks after—what you believe to be the prime season.
Add complementary products and services
A seamless way to move to the next season and keep revenue coming in is to add products and services that serve other seasonal needs of your customers. If your company specializes in snow removal, add some de-icing products to your sales list.
Generate excitement, even in your off-season
During your slower months, hold events to engage and excite your customers. Don’t hesitate to offer deals in months you would not normally view as prime selling time. You’ll likely find people who are thrilled for great deals during the off-months and who will take advantage of the specials you offer.
Go where the season is
If your product is aimed towards the summer months, change your marketing approach during the cooler seasons. Reach out to people in other parts of the country or world that still have higher temperatures and could benefit from what you have to offer. Cultivate new markets and you may see exponential growth and gain a whole new world of customers.
Seek out niche markets
A way to find successful income is to serve niche markets. If you run a bakery, you can find success during all months through offering products that hit home with a smaller audience, such as sugar or gluten-free muffins or cookies. Lots of profitable businesses serve thriving niches and experience great success.
Oftentimes seasonal businesses have a few months of intense activity, then the routine changes. Make sure to look ahead at what your next busy season holds, or before you know it that time will be here again. Regularly review seasonal demands and seek ways to streamline operations.