Written by: Melissa R. MacCaull, Director of Marketing, Union Savings Bank
As summer winds down, chances for small businesses to make a splash still abound. You may feel sales begin to slow, but there are plenty of things small businesses can do to make the most of this time of year. Consider these 4 small business tips to breathe life back into your off season marketing strategy.
Try something new. As the owner of a small brick and mortar business, you wouldn’t suddenly pull your top-selling items in favor of a brand new product line right before the holidays, would you? Probably not. But with sales on the slower side this time of year, it can be the perfect opportunity to test new products, rearrange your shop or get creative with your displays. You can take what you learn in these couple of weeks and introduce what worked into your busiest times to generate new interest and boost sales.
If you’re just dipping your toe into the proverbial water, start with a small change such as a fresh coat of paint or some new signage inside your business. If you’re ready to really get things moving and shaking, try using this time to soft launch a new logo or poll your customers about opening a new location. These types of decisions take lots of planning and potentially a small business loan, but now can be a great time to write up plans and goals for both your on and off season marketing strategy.
Host an event or class. If your client list would make hosting an event during the busy spring and fall too overwhelming, consider waiting until these slower summer weeks to explore small business event ideas. Hold an after-work mixer and invite your customers to bring a colleague to earn a discount come September. If it makes sense for your small business, you might also consider hosting a small evening or weekend class for those customers who don’t have summer plans. Offer snacks, beverages and, most of all, cool air conditioning and give attendees a great tutorial with your latest products or newest services. You can also consider partnering with another non-competitive business that shares a similar customer target, so you can introduce your business/product/services to new clientele and vice versa.
If you don’t have the space or resources to host an event at your location, consider using some of your downtime to create video tutorials for your website and YouTube channel. They can be as simple as finding an unbusy wall or plain backdrop, buying a lavalier microphone for your smartphone, setting up some good lighting and recruiting yourself or one of your employees to be the star. Use your smartphone and free editing software for a low budget but informative tutorial for your customers to benefit from all year round.
Get ahead of your social media game. When things get busy, it takes all hands on deck to manage the workflow. Sometimes that means dropping other things like your social media strategy and posting frequency. The summer slowdown is the perfect time to take a step back and see what has generated the most growth and engagement for your small business on social media this year. If your business has a blog, which types of posts received the most traffic? Use this time to create a simple content calendar to carry you through the rest of the year based on your most successful content.
Blog posts aren’t the only types of content you can plan ahead of time. Implementing social media automation, of which there are many free or low-cost options, into your off season marketing strategy can take a lot of pressure off you and your team as sales start revving up again. Take advantage of the long days of summer sun and lush greenery to capture beautiful photos of your business, inside and out. You can use these shots all year long on social media and in promotional materials, so don’t be shy with the camera.
Do your customers love sharing photos of your products or venue? User-generated content is one of the best ways to get new prospects interested in your business, so try asking these advocates if you can share their photos and posts on your channels. Is one of your employees especially savvy with social media? Have them run an Instagram takeover to showcase your business from their perspective. Followers will enjoy fresh content, and you can get inspired for the coming months.
Latch onto back to school. There does come a time when we all must accept the end of summer, but luckily your off season marketing strategy wraps up with a bang: back to school. As people start returning from vacations and get back to the grind, it’s the perfect time to reinvigorate your communication with customers and get sales moving again. Invite customers to subscribe to your blog and lead with a fun “Welcome Back” message. Send an e-newsletter to share the great tutorial videos you created over the summer and the beautiful photos you captured of your business. The back to school season is much like the New Year in many ways, and you will likely find many customers excited to start fresh come fall.
And when you need some help to continue to grow your business, give our Business Banking team a call.
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