I don’t care what anyone says – summer is the best. Maybe I’m still associating it with the freedom I felt as a kid on Summer Break being free from school for a glorious three month stretch…but when the sun is shining bright, shorts and flip-flops are daily clothing requirements, the flowers are in full bloom and the birds are in full chirp, and barbecues and poolside parties abound, I tend to be a pretty happy camper.
Most other folks feel the same, and that happiness at the gorgeous weather outside tends to send these happy campers out and about in search of a good time. Whether it’s festivals, state and county fairs, outdoor concert series, or simply a walk along main street to window shop, the summer months get people out of doors in droves.
How You Can Wisely Take Advantage of Summer Weather and Customer Activities
While some believe that a majority of businesses have some sort of a summer slump, that notion is highly dependent on your business and what you’re doing with it once the temperature starts to rise. By following a few easy steps, you’ll be doing your best to take advantage of all those out and about enjoying the summer.
1. Take Lots of Photos
The grass is green, the sky is blue, and people are tanner and wearing fun clothes (and less of them). What better way to capture your business interacting with smiling, happy customers than in the summer? Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are tailor-made to show off compelling and interesting photos, and summer is a perfect opportunity to share them to engage more customers and grow your user base.
But don’t just stop there – encourage your customers to take their own shots and post them to your page, or create your own hashtag trend to spread out virally.
If your business is Joe’s Sandwich Shop, introduce a new, special smoothie for the summer and upload photos of the fruit going into it, how they’re made, and of course the delicious final product in high-resolution with the condensation on the edge of the glass just begging people to drink it. Upload it to Twitter and/or Instagram under the hashtag #joessummersmoothies and offer up discounts or prizes to the customers that take the most funny/best/interesting shots involving your smoothies. Get creative – it’s all about getting your customers to participate and interact with your business in a visually-appealing manner.
2. Get Involved in Local Events
As mentioned above, summer is the time for big outdoor events and festivals. Regardless of where you live and where your business is located, there are sure to be some fairs, concerts, or other goings-on that are within reasonable striking distance.
Don’t pass up this great opportunity to get your business and product in front of a large captive audience. Whether this participation is a full-booth presence or just distributing pamphlets or business cards is up to you, your type of business, your budget, and the nature of the event. Obviously, the cost of a booth will be considerably higher than printing up some literature to pass out, so that option may be appealing from a budgetary standpoint – but if you’ve ever been to a trade show, fair, or similar event, a staggering amount of the trash in the bins (and unfortunately, on the ground) is made up of pamphlets and hand-outs.
A booth is a great way to get some face-to-face interaction with your potential customers where you can personalize your business and tell your story precisely the way you want to tell it. Being at an event full-time is also a great opportunity to network, but it of course depends on the nature of the event. Speaking of networking…
3. Use Your Vacation Time Wisely
As a business owner, you might be laughing sarcastically at the mere notion of “vacation time” – most of them are so caught up in the day-to-day operation of their enterprise that they barely get nights and weekends off, let alone days or weeks at a time. But it can be hugely important to take some time off and to get away, and that time more often than not comes in the summer. It’s important to get away from the grind to recharge your batteries and clear some of the clutter and stress out of your brain. Ideally, that would mean 3-4 weeks at a white sand beach with lots of tropical drinks, but that’s probably not realistic for most folks.
Instead, consider taking a vacation somewhere that is hosting a trade show or conference that is in your field or related industry. You’ll still be getting away from the minutiae of your business and getting out of town for a bit, but you’ll be able to network with some of your peers and potentially learn a LOT of new information that can help you run your business more efficiently and successfully.
4. Explore Themed Promotional Items
Summer is great (as you can tell the intro), but it sometimes can get a bit too warm for comfort. Be it a pool, a lake or river, air conditioning, or simply an ice cold beverage, everyone is constantly on the lookout for ways to cool down. And regardless of the season, everyone is also constantly on the lookout for free goodies. Why not combine these and create some cooling tchotchkes to dole out to your customers?
There are a bevy of relatively cheap options – drink koozies are always popular and well-received and come in a variety of thicknesses, materials, and costs. Miniature, handheld water spritzing fans are a bit pricier but can be the runaway success of the day if you’re at an event that’s predominately outdoors. Freezable neck wraps containing coolant gel can be absolute lifesavers when the temperature creeps into the triple digits, but their high cost (around $40 retail) makes them prohibitively expensive and are better suited as a prize giveaway (perhaps for the best photo submitted during your contest?).
The big question is your return on investment, or ROI – is it worth the cost of creating these materials to have your brand plastered all over them? Something like koozies can be as cheap as $0.30-$0.50 and are likely to last a while. It’s hard to put quantifiable impressions on promotional materials, however, so consider a small spend to toe the waters first. Try adding a call to action to gauge effectiveness – e.g. “Show this koozie to your cashier on Tuesdays for a 5% discount.”
5. Get Started with Yelp
If you haven’t gotten involved with your business Yelp page yet, or it doesn’t have one at all, summer is the perfect time to get involved or get it started. Yelp is one of the most efficient ways to gain word of mouth advertising, which as we’ve noted before on this blog, is by far the most effective form.
If you’re following some of our other tips and are getting involved in local events and festivals or running promotions with social media, you stand a good chance that your customers are going to have a positive interaction with your business and brand. What better time for them to write a review that will be seen by hundreds, if not thousands, of potential customers reading about your business for the first time? However, even if you’re running stellar promotions and are providing consumers with an excellent product, you are still going to receive the occasional bad review. It’s GOING to happen. Prepare yourself for it now so you can avoid a meltdown later, most recently and famously seen with Amy’s Baking Company.
6. Be Generous
This should apply during all seasons, but in summer it can be especially beneficial. If you operate a brick and mortar selling products, you well know by now that people coming in just to browse are a regular occurrence. In the summer, sometimes people are in there with absolutely no intention of buying your products, only to escape the heat and soak in a little AC. While that can be frustrating, try embracing it. Keep the thermostat low and cool. Have a water jug or tea dispenser that offers complementary cold beverages.
It will cost a bit more, sure, but having potential customers see your generosity and associate your business with a positive experience is likely worth more than the cost of keeping the thermostat cool and a few jugs of ice water a day.