If you run your own business, chances are you have already gone through a lot of work to make sure you are running robust and thorough marketing campaigns. However, with the summer coming up, it’s a great time to start thinking about how you will make your business stand out in the coming months.
Depending on the nature of your business, summer may be the biggest season for you (for example, if you run an ice cream parlor) or it may be a slower time for you (if you work in a business related to academics, for example). If the summer means major business for you, you will want to be sure that your marketing campaigns are up to the task. If summer is a bit slower for you, it’s a great time to take bigger risks in your marketing campaigns in such a way that will cater towards your customers’ vacation state of mind. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Offer Seasonal Items
Free promotional merchandise is always popular, but seasonal items are especially popular as they can act as a natural complement to the nature of your summer business operations. For example, if you run an ice cream parlor, give away hats with embroidered ice cream cones or flip flops with your logo stamped on them. People can wear these items directly to the beach, which gives you some free advertising. Other ideas for seasonal giveaway items could include:
- Beach or pool toys.
- Beach blankets or towels.
- T-shirts. If you go this route, be sure to alter your logo so that it reflects a seasonal theme. If your logo features a polar bear, hire a graphic artist to draw you a new logo that depicts the polar bear in a bathing suit.
- Tote bags.
- Golf equipment.
- Travel mugs (if you normally give out regular ceramic mugs, for example).
- Bumper stickers or car window magnets. These would be especially good if they related in some way to beach vacations or road trips.
Offer Summer Promotions
If your business carries items that are seasonally relevant, be sure to offer promotions that target these seasonal items. For example, if you sell sports equipment, be sure your bathing suits, pool shoes, kayaking equipment, and biking accessories are all out in the open. Feature advertisements that focus on hobbies and activities that relate specifically to the good weather. You may also want to consider getting new business cards for the summer that somehow relate to your summer products or services.
If your business does not sell items that relate in any particular way to the summer, offer promotions on other items. For example, if your business sells coats, run a “Christmas in July” advertising campaign with significant price decreases on your regular items. Put up decorations of Santa on the beach or dress your mannequins in warm clothes but surround them with beach items. You won’t get too many people who want to buy coats in the summer, but if it is a significantly memorable campaign, people will start to remember it each year and you will probably build a reliable client base of people who plan ahead and want to take advantage of off-season sales.
Utilize your social media accounts to entice potential customers. For example, imagine you are looking for ways to save money at restaurants. Many people look to restaurants’ Facebook or Instagram accounts to see if they are offering any special deals or promotions. Use that same approach with your product or service. For example, post a photo and mention a password. If anyone comes to your store and mentions the password, they can receive a certain amount off of their purchase or off of certain products. Social media is free to use, and chances are you’ll make more money by earning more customers.
Promotional deals tend to be most successful if they offer significant savings, if they are annual events, or if they feature some really memorable gimmick. If you normally don’t see too much business in the summer, take advantage of this opportunity to get risky and try something a bit different. Offer really goofy promotional items like hats shaped like ice cream cones or giant sunglasses.
Or run a really ridiculous marketing campaign. For example, every year at Christmas time, the Barney’s store in New York City goes through a massive decoration effort with detailed and captivating displays in their front windows. One year, in an unusual move, they decorated their windows with actors portraying famous historical characters. One of the actors, David Rakoff, who played Sigmund Freud, wrote about his experience for the radio series This American Life. His piece about playing “Christmas Freud” gets replayed around Christmas time every year, even though his experience was almost 20 years ago. You know you’ve made a really successful marketing decision when people are still talking about it decades later!