Every summer there is one song that you seemingly hear almost everywhere—the radio, TV ads, and countless YouTube videos. But why shouldn’t your company have a summer hit, too? These warmer months sometimes translate into slower sales for many businesses, but there are a few ways you can retune a lackluster revenue season into a blockbuster bottom line. Do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do are notes in a scale—we used them as inspiration for sales tips that are sure to make your end-of-summer revenues sing.
Do create a sense of urgency
Though customers may be going at a slower pace during summer, nothing gets them moving faster than thinking their time may expire. Hannah Marr, content director of the online marketing platform company BizBrag, says summer marketing that creates a sense of urgency is key. “By creating a special offer with an expiration date, customers will feel a greater need to take advantage of it before time is up,” suggests Marr. “Everyone wants to savor the last few weeks of summer, so creating a marketing tactic around this idea will make them feel as though they have to take advantage of it before the temperatures drop. This can be especially fitting for restaurants, pool or department stores with summer products, and hotels.”
Re-energize your social media and website content
Your phone may not be ringing as often, and there may not be as many sales, but that doesn’t mean you can’t engage customers during the end of summer. Jeff Kear, owner of the online software business for small creative agencies and freelancers Planning Pod, uses the dog days of summer to concentrate on adding content and updating social media profiles. “I know things are going to be slow from a sales and customer support standpoint from June through August, so I spend more time blogging, tweaking my social media profiles (such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+), and interacting on social media,” says Kear. This not only reaches those potential clients surfing on websites by the pool, it provides a nice diving board into the pool of autumn sales. “I find that this activity actually sets me up nicely for the fall because it enables my site to be found in a wide variety of ways by my target audience,” notes Kear.
Rethink that new, perhaps somewhat off-the-wall marketing idea and give it a shot—the more leisurely business pace of summer gives you a unique ability to see how it works. “The end of summer could be a great time for experimenting with new strategies for putting your small business out there,” says Steve Hamm, digital marketing solutions pro and owner of digital marketing and business solutions company MaaS Pros. Says Hamm: “Start that blog you've been thinking, launch a new product or service that you've been on the fence with, or try your hand at viral videos or guerrilla marketing tactics.”
Fabulous customer service is essential
Vying for a piece of the vacation spending pie is the focus for many small business owners. Ensuring customers use their dollars at your store means keeping your business running at its peak level. Deborah Sweeney, CEO of the document filing service company MyCorporation.com, says her summer sales success is all about focusing on her employees. “The biggest sales secret weapon is an emphasis on excellent customer service,” says Sweeney. “The difference between an okay customer service experience and an excellent customer service experience is the quality of conversation your sales team can provide your customers. As the summer winds down, I tell my sales team to keep their conversations with customers especially kind, genuine, and informative. Don't be afraid to talk about hometowns, baseball, pets, anything—spark a real connection between you and the customer.”
Solidify and bump up “business as usual”
Customers may go on vacation, but they will return. Keep doing what you normally do to stay on their radar, but add a little more oomph. Terri Toner, co-owner and sales representative for Pirate Jonny’s, a Clearwater, Florida-based business that specializes in gluten-free, soy-free, MSG-free and low-sodium gourmet food, stays with a proven marketing technique and then enhances it. “We usually send newsletters to our current customers every four to six weeks, but now we send them every three weeks with blowout specials,” says Toner, “It’s successful because these are people who have already expressed interest, and we just keep that interest going by offering re-ordering specials, as well as new product information and specials for later dates.”
Kick up your end-of-summer sales with key marketing before the season begins. Scott Spizer, founder and director of the Manhattan-based test prep and tutoring company Origins Tutoring, sends out his summer marketing and discounts well before the warm weather hits. “The students we’re aimed at need test prep or remedial work,” he says. Spizer attracts parents and students before the school year ends with email blasts about summer learning loss and the importance of using summer 'down time’ to do test prep. “We include discounts for buying bulk sessions in these areas, such as ‘Sign up and get 10 percent off a package of 10 SAT prep sessions this summer’ deals,” says Spizer.
Time spent now will pay off later
Use the slower months to tackle those areas you don’t usually have time for and prepare for the busier fall and holiday season. Organize your stockroom, revamp your computer systems, change your logo – any task, large or small, you check off your To Do list now translates into revenue boosts later in the year. Spizer uses the slower summer months to expand his employee base and hone their skills. “We use the down time to interview and hire tutors for the coming year. That way, we are in a position to reap the rewards when school starts,” says Spizer.
Do catch the back-to-school bus
Summer ends when kids don those backpacks and sharpen their No. 2 pencils. Back-to-school sales can be a perfect way to boost your seasonal revenues. “Grocery stores, boutiques, electronics stores, and more can take advantage of back-to-school time,” notes Marr. “By making customers feel as though they need your product before their kids go back to school, they are more likely to make the purchase to feel prepared.”