For many small businesses, summer can be a sort of feast or famine time of year. Depending on the nature of their small business, they are either super busy, or for the same reason, extremely slow. Regardless of the type of business you own, you will probably benefit from some low-cost ways to increase revenue. For the slower seasonal businesses the reasons are self-evident, and for the busier summer ones, summer promotions are a great way to stay ahead of the competition, which is likely stronger this time of year for them as well.
Here then are 5 cool and affordable ways to increase revenue this summer:
1. Have a summertime contest: In line with the vibe of summer, contests are a great way to get noticed and bring people in the door. I once had a client who was a baker and summer was her worst time of year. That was, until we devised a “Best Banana Bread Contest.” She brought in some local celebrities as judges, got the newspaper interested in the event, and for a month every summer, created fantastic buzz around her contest. Summers were no longer slow after that.
For you, think of a contest that ties with what you do and create a summer contest around that.
2. Get some press: A correlation to #1 is the idea that some free PR can go a long, long way to both building your brand and raising your revenue. Tips:
- Come up with a newsworthy idea; the contest above for example, or the sponsorship of a local event or some charity work you are doing. Use the summer angle to your advantage. Whatever the case, it has to be newsworthy.
- Find the reporters or producers who cover that topic.
- Send them an email, and then a follow up email a day or two later. It may also behoove you to send them some sort of chunky package – something with information about the event and a knickknack in it. I say “chunky” because that package will be different and what you want is to get noticed.
- Follow up.
- Then, after you get that press, leverage that story– post it in your store window, on your website, tweet it, etc.
3. Create a summer rewards program: Many major retailers give customers rewards card to get discounts and deals. They help attract customers, especially when business would otherwise be slow. So, if it works for them, why not try it yourself?
Model your program similarly. Give people a card or have some other way to track them, and then provide incentives for shopping with you this summer. Once they reach a certain level of “points” offer discounts and giveaways, or maybe a special sale one night in late summer (see below).
The key is to have an expiration date on the program (Labor Day for example), that way, you encourage people to take advantage of the deal.
4. Ask for, and get, referrals: In my dad’s carpet warehouse, he had a banner that said, “Our word of mouth advertising starts with you!” That was a not-so-subtle way of reminding people to send him referrals. Another example: I have a pal who wrote an advice book. Whenever someone emails him, asking for help, he says “I would be happy to help once you post a review, good or bad, about my book on Amazon.” He has over 100 reviews (mostly positive). Those are a powerful form of referrals.
One more example: Back when I had a law firm, one slow summer I decided to open a new area of practice. I wrote to 100 former clients explaining what I was doing and asked them for referrals. Results from that letter kept me busy well into the next year.
But the thing is, if you want referrals, you gotta ask for them.
5. Have a summer sale: What do you love – what do all shoppers love? A sale! A sale draws people in, generates buzz, increases revenue and creates customers. The secret is to take your products that are especially popular this time of year and have enough margins built in and offer them for less. Get the word out via signs, newsletters, flyers, ads and social media. Have a start and end date.
Do you have any tried and tried ways to increase your revenue during the summer? Did this article spark any new ideas for you? Share your thoughts with the SBOC community below.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss