Many business owners can count on the dreaded summer sales slump like the brown bristly patch that shows up in the middle of your lawn. And the slump hits businesses hard, especially when combined with flagging morale and lower productivity.
But it’s not all sweat and gloom! Summer offers small businesses a chance to break out of old habits and rethink their marketing strategies for the rest of the year and beyond (like next summer, for example).
Take a much-deserved break from your small business sales routine with these tips.
1. Go social…please
You’ve no doubt heard this advice before, but if you haven’t gone social yet, summer’s a good time to dip a toe into social media marketing.
Many of your customers have left town or are dreaming about doing so. And once they’re gone, a lot of traditional marketing can no longer reach them. Nobody’s forwarding their daily newspaper to Paris for two weeks, and local radio gets pretty fuzzy above the tree line.
But there’s one place where even the most focused vacationer will inevitably turn: social media. Is the un-Instagrammed vacation even a vacation? Whether posting their own updates or suffering from FOMO while scrolling through their friends’ feeds, Gen X consumers spend about 6 hours per week on social media.
So take advantage of the summer slowdown to pump the brakes on traditional advertising and craft a social media strategy instead. It’s a great way to follow potential customers wherever they end up.
And no, the marketplace isn’t too crowded. Of the 65 million businesses active on Facebook, only 5 million use its advertising services. There’s still plenty of room for yours.
2. Make friends in the right places
Summer friendships don’t just start at sleepaway camps. Consider staving off the doldrums with a slightly more advanced kind of social media advertising: influencer marketing.
Influencers are content creators on platforms like YouTube and Instagram with thousands or even millions of followers. An endorsement from these influencers can help a product reach a much wider audience, and often has a much higher conversion rate than other forms of advertising.
Your business can use influencers to raise the profile of your product and also tie it to a certain identity, look, or trend. For instance, an influencer could associate your product with summer vibes by showcasing it in a photo or video from a vacation or summer festival.
Influencer marketing can also be carefully targeted; you can pair your business with an influencer who reaches your target demographic and location at your budget, and whose base of followers is appropriate to your needs. Not every business needs a Kylie Jenner.
3. Listen to the “who”!
No, not The Who (put that LP of Live at Leeds away)—we’re talking about the people that a business is reaching and the people it wants to reach. Marketing is only effective if it helps bring the second group into the first.
Simply blanketing the airwaves or choosing the right AdWords isn’t enough anymore. You can make all the advertising content in the world, but you have to know how to put it in front of the right people. Summer is a good time to firm up (or perhaps write down for the first time) a thought-out content marketing strategy.
You’re not alone if you don’t have one written out—the Content Marketing Institute estimates that just over a third of marketers have a documented strategy. But writing down exactly whose eyeballs your business is trying to get in front of can make a major difference.
Paying attention to your target audience can have major payoffs, allowing you to do direct, targeted promotions that dovetail with existing events and capitalize on the audiences they bring in. There’s always retargeting (also called remarketing) as well.
For example, while it wouldn’t make sense to buy a booth at every street fair and festival in your city or metro area this summer, a better-defined target audience could help you choose one or two fairs over the course of a summer where your business is likely to benefit from a strong presence.
4. Don’t sweat it too much
Of course, if you spend all your team’s time and energy trying to drum up summer sales, you might break the sticks. Summer can be a time for your company to develop new strengths, to innovate, to reorganize, and to grow sideways.
Make sure that you and your employees get some much-needed R&R, but also try to recognize the value hidden in a summer slump. The rest of the year, it seems there’s never enough time to make changes on the fly or try out new marketing experiments—for now, there’s plenty of opportunity.
Emily Kate Pope is a former editor at Fundera, a marketplace for small business financial solutions. Emily writes extensively on financing, accounting, and small business trends.