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There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a challenging experience for many small business owners. But as the impact of COVID is starting to ease, many people – and businesses too – are feeling optimistic that things will (finally!) go back to pre-pandemic level of normality in the coming months.
And that means that small businesses are in the perfect position to take advantage of this more relaxed summer and make it an incredible season for sales – with the right strategy, that is. Let’s take a look at the business and marketing steps you can take to have the best small business summer yet:
- Plan and prep for the summer holidays.
- Host an event for your customers.
- Offer seasonal incentives.
- Connect with the small business community.
- Spruce up your space.
- Target seasonal visitors.
- Take advantage of outdoor events.
1. Plan and prep for the summer holidays.
A lot of people like to engage with businesses on and around holidays, including summer holidays. And while that fact is always true, it’s especially true this summer, when many people will be getting together to celebrate those holidays together for the first time in more than 2 years. So, if you want your small business summer to be as successful and lucrative as possible, make a plan.
Think of ways that your business can capitalise on summer holiday activity. For example, if you are a food retailer, you might put together “holiday picnic baskets” filled with your most popular picnic or grilling foods – then sell them to customers to enjoy over the summer holidays. Or, if you own a clothing shop, you might have a Summer Solstice sale offering customers 10% off everything – and an additional 10% off items that are bright and colourful.
2. Host an event for your customers.
As summer approaches, many people are finally ready to get out, re-engage with their community and attend events. So, why not host an event this summer? It’ll give you a great opportunity to market your business, connect with customers and drive sales.
The kind of event you host will depend on your business and your customers – but whatever you decide, make sure it grabs people’s attention and entices them to attend. For example, if you own a restaurant, you might host a summer tasting event at which customers can sample all the dishes on your new menu. Throw in some live music, special cocktails or a gift card giveaway to make it extra-memorable. Or, maybe you own a sporting goods shop. Host an event offering discounted water sports lessons (like paddle boarding or kayaking) for customers.
People are ready to get out and have fun this summer – and if you create fun events for your customers, they’ll get out and engage with your business.
Your event will only be successful if your customers know about it. Promote it on posters and flyers, in an email newsletter or with a social media post. Include all the important details, like the date, time, cost and location.
3. Offer seasonal incentives.
If you want your customers to engage with your business this summer (or anytime, really), you need to incentivise them to do so. For example, if you want to get more customers into your retail space, offer a monthly freebie, like a free sticker or water bottle for everyone that comes in in July. Or, offer summer-specific specials – like a discount on summer items or a two-for-one special on your summer menu – to get people excited to do business with you over the summer months.
Loyalty programmes encourage repeat shopping, making them a great way to incentivise your customers this summer (and all year-round!). Use custom loyalty cards to track purchases – then offer a special deal, discount or freebie once your customers complete the card.
4. Connect with the small business community.
Your business isn’t the only one that’s emerging this summer ready to re-engage with customers and drive major results. Consider partnering with other small businesses to make the most of the season.
Connect with other small businesses in your community and look for ways you can work together to offer value to your customers – and drive sales and revenue in the process. For example, if you own a fitness studio, you might partner with a local juice bar for a pop-up event at which customers can work out and enjoy goodies from the juice bar. Or, let’s say you own a bakery. You might partner with a local coffee shop for a breakfast event – and offer all attendees a percentage off their order.
It’s not just customers that will be looking to get back into the swing of things this summer. Other local businesses will also be looking for ways to reconnect with customers and drive sales – so look for mutually beneficial opportunities to partner with these businesses.
5. Spruce up your space.
Whether you have a brick-and-mortar space or operate entirely online, get your business – and your customers – in a summer mood with new décor or a fresh colour scheme. For example, you could add summer-inspired animations to your social media posts, hang a colourful banner (complete with your favourite summer hues!) in your shop window or incorporate summer illustrations into a chalkboard pavement sign to draw customers in.
6. Target seasonal visitors.
If you live in an area that attracts tourists in the warm-weather months, you have the opportunity to connect with an entirely new customer base during the summer season – so, make a plan to target them.
Let’s say you own a bakery or coffee shop. Contact local accommodation providers and ask if they’d be willing to include your baked goods or use your house coffee blend as part of their continental breakfast. Drop off your product with a tabletop sign or stack of business cards so customers know where they can get more of those amazing pastries or a midday caffeine fix.
Or maybe you own a service-based business, like a doggie daycare centre. Connect with dog-friendly hotels and pet shops in the area and ask them to include your leaflets in their welcome packets or display your flyers on their check-out counter.
Is there a particular attraction or event in town that draws in tourists – like a food festival or art museum? Contact the Chamber of Commerce and ask if they have any partnership opportunities that would get your business in front of their patrons. Maybe you can purchase advertising space in the local guidebook, or find out where to offer free samples.
7. Take advantage of outdoor events.
With the warm temperatures and long hours of sunshine, summer offers the perfect backdrop for outdoor events. And if you want your business to thrive this summer, those outdoor events offer the perfect place to connect with potential customers. Research any outdoor events in your area where you think your customers might be – and then figure out a way to get involved. Think: farmers’ markets, craft fairs, music festivals and parades. Whether you showcase your newest ice cream flavour at a nearby art fair or sell branded tote bags at the local flea market, participating in summer events is a great way to build local awareness and boost business.