Summer is well underway and with that rise in temperature often comes a drop in sales. So, how can entrepreneurs and business owners overcome this all-too-common summer slump? To help answer that question, we have reached out to the fantastic CarolRoth.com contributor network of business owners, experts, advisors and entrepreneurs to share their best tips for boosting summer sales. Their answers are presented below in no particular order.
You may notice some similar ideas listed, but I kept them separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.
1. Socialize to Provide
Summer is the time for many outdoor events and the more you attend, the better it is. It allows you to socialize, make connections and provides you with numerous opportunities to acquire leads. People are usually more relaxed, approachable and open to talking about themselves. This is where you become an active listener who may be able to suggest ways in which their needs can be met. This will open the door for follow-up conversations and who knows, maybe a life-long client relationship.
2. Sizzling Hot Summer Clearance
Depending on the type of business you are in, a "SIZZLING HOT SUMMER CLEARANCE SALE" might be just the ticket to bigger sales now and much bigger sales in the future! In addition, a lot of advertising rates on radio and TV are relatively lower in the summer than at some other times of the year, and you can get a lot more bang for your buck on major media in your market. "So what are you waiting for? Come on down and get in on all the great bargains during our Sizzling Hot Summer Clearance Sale!"
3. Boost Sales with Mystery Boxes
Summer months are tough for the retail business, but a sure-fire tip to drive those sales: Mystery Boxes! Offer a flat-rate "Mystery Box" that guarantees a value 25%-50% higher than what the consumer price is. Use this opportunity to de-stash and unload unwanted inventory, but always include a valuable product that would be a "win" for your customers. They love the mystery and you get to make extra money while unloading unwanted inventory!
4. Video is the Cat's Whiskers!
June 29th, 2017 is the iPhone's 10th Birthday. Turning conventional marketing on its head, with his "Think Different" mantra, Steve Jobs pronounced "A lot of times, people don't know what they want, until you show it to them".
Who knew we needed an iPhone?
In a decade, the perfect storm of three disruptive technologies, YouTube, Facebook and the iPhone have revolutionized our marketing world. Today, Video is The Cat's Whiskers and your best way to boost your biz and income, this summer.
5. Hold a Vacation Photo Contest
Everyone is going on vacation at some point in the summer - no need to hide it or work against it. Instead, use it to your advantage by holding a "Vacation Photo Contest". Promote it through social media. Have people submit their contact information and their best vacation photo. The "coolest" vacation photo wins - give away a $100 gift card to incentivize participation! You will be gathering new contact info, as well as engaging your audience and creating a dialogue with potential clients.
6. Beat the Sun, Shop Online
Market your products with themes of summer vacations, family time and/or a soaring heat wave. For an online business, it makes more sense to let your customers know how they can get all the services in the comfort of their homes. It is also good time to have clearance sales for disposing of old stock.
7. Promoting Popular Summer Items
We love promoting our business along with a community event with artwork (created by a local artist) on our door. The attached photo shows how we combined Tea and the Hot Air Balloon Festival. Did you see the teacup?
Another suggestion is to use an outdoor chalkboard sign and change the message every week. On a hot summer day, we may have "Free Iced Tea Samples" written on ours and it brings new customers in every time.
Be creative and see what works for your business.
8. Leverage Your Referrals
Let's face it, THE best source of sales for most businesses is referrals. Summer + leveraging referrals = ? Party! A business group I belong to has a summer picnic every year. We each invite one client and their family to join us. The clients get to meet our business colleagues and we get to refer colleagues to all our clients. At times, clients know each other, which leverages even more. It's a fun way to get people together, share biz cards and grow our businesses. Pass the coleslaw, please!
9. Can Anyone Say "Beach Trip"!?
Summer is all about fun and frolicking, being outdoors and enjoying some sunny days. Your marketing should join with people's summery mood by incorporating outdoor settings. Photoshoots at the lake, beach or on a mountain summit will not only give you the perfect setting to portray your product, but it will also grab the attention of the consumers by taking them to the places they want to be. In summer, the great outdoors makes for some great boosting of sales.
10. Fun in the Sun with Clientele
The song lyrics say it all; ‘Summertime and the living is easy...’ Everyone slows down to catch the sun, the waves at the beach, and enjoy good food. Summertime is the perfect time to relax with your favorite clients, enjoy a special meal and have a fun-filled conversation. The season hands you the opportunity to build a professionally personal bond with one another. As the business pace picks up in the Fall, so will sales alongside customer loyalty.
11. Do The Hustle
I could come up with a clever sale, a special "hot" summer promotion, or a great giveaway to attract more attention. While all of these are great ideas, nothing is better than good ol' fashion hustle.
While others take a well-deserved summer break, top performers continue to pound the pavement bringing a BBQ to the office and sending foam chests filled with dry ice and freeze pops.
Do something unexpected and take this time to deepen your connections and open doors with a little summer fun!
12. Summer Festivals
At Colorado Aromatics, we love summer and reach out to our customers at outdoor events. Because our skin care line is formulated to help repair skin damage caused by the outdoors, this is the best place to connect with and build our customer base. Our favorite place to do this is at the weekly Farmers Market. This is a lively place where customers are eager to learn about new products and companies. We also look for other relevant outdoor festivals and enjoy participating in lavender festivals.
13. Bonding Builds Business
Summer is the perfect time to network. There are numerous opportunities over the summer from golf outings to lunches to baseball games and the like. These outings prove to be a more relaxed atmosphere, where people can get to know you and like you! And let's face it, people do business with those they know, like and trust. Get out, meet people, enjoy all that summer has to offer and build your business at the same time.
14. Offer a Free Trial
For software, a great trick to close sales is to offer a free trial, so people start using the product and can see if it helps them. Prospects get to set the product up and try it out live. This process takes a lot of risk off the table, because they’ll have enough information to know if the purchase is a good idea. And, risk and fear stop way more deals than any other factor. You can also let them pay month to month, so it’s not such a huge financial decision and the sale 'auto-closes’.
15. Social Media Contest!
Sponsoring a social media contest is a great way to generate excitement during the slow summer months. Social media giveaways are great for engaging customers and increasing page views. For the best results, personalize your contest to reflect the type of business you operate. For example, Blu sponsored a spring "Mother's Day" contest. We raffled off a gift basket & asked for people to tag our social media accounts with a picture of their mom.
16. Enjoy and Still Make Money
Summer is when we all want to spend a little less time in the office and more time socializing and being outdoors. We may feel a bit casual and relaxed, but it doesn’t put the work world to a halt. Use this relaxed time to connect with your clients over a lunch on the patio, a game of golf or even over an ice cream and walk. Find out how's their business going and what the last quarter plans are. This is the key information you need. And the best part, none of this will feel sales-y or pushy.
17. Entice Them with Sizzle
Angela Jia Kim recently suggested to me that I offer a Summer Sizzle Special to get people to take action and crank up sales. You could offer a different special each week or month. Perhaps your $1297 program is offered for $997 for a limited time.
18. Summer Success
Answer your phone! Yep, it’s that simple. You see, if a prospect is taking care of their business, inquiring about your product and are more likely to buy than not, they want you to be available, too! If you don’t answer your phone when they call, it is too easy for them to assume that you are at the beach! They will call the next professional on the list. However, when you answer your phone, most are surprised to hear a live voice! It is a great way to launch a business relationship.
19. Give Them Something Different
During the dog days of Summer when the last thing people want to do is shop, we offer something new. A new scent of the season, or a meditation night special, or a vendor event. Anything that changes it up to promote.
We also host parties and offer incentives for booking during the quieter times. We have definitely seen an increase because of it.
20. Contest to Win a Free Vacation
When customers think summer, they think vacation. Last summer, we ran a promotion for a free vacation for all new clients who signed a 6-month marketing agreement. This promo boosted sales significantly. It worked great for us and we plan to use it again in mid-July.
21. Best Summer Sales Advice!
A great way to boost sales over the summer is to double down on content marketing in the spring. Since it normally takes a couple of months for new website content to rank with search engines, by scheduling more posts in the spring, it helps with an increase in web traffic by the summer time, helping smooth out a normal lull in business activity.
22. Shift Sales to Single Sign-off
Selling B2B typically requires committee approval. Everyone needs to be in the meeting or nothing happens. Unfortunately, summer vacations can splinter teams and prevent any new deals closing until fall. During the summer, shift your focus to small items that only require one person to sign-off. Your deals might be smaller, but you won’t have to wait until everyone gets back from vacation.
Grant Stanley of Bric
23. Effective Ways to Boost Sales
Be visible and always carry your product and your business card with you. I carry copies of my series of books, “The Adventures of Johnny’s Mini Monster Truck”. I get permission from a parent, then give the card to the child asking if monster trucks tow trains. This covers two of a child’s most popular toys and introduces the ultimate child’s ride for birthday parties and other events.
24. Boost Summer Sales with a Text
My one best tip to increase sales over the summer is to use Text Message Marketing to reach out to prospects and customers. With a 93% read rate, text messages are a great way to connect with customers and drive sales!
Many business owners capture the cell phone numbers of customers, but then fail to do even the basic level of text message marketing. Send your prospects a specific offer, remind them who you are and where you are located... then watch summer sales jump!
25. Use the Weather Wisely
As a company that provides specialized year-ahead weather forecasting for the Fortune 500, small businesses & farmers globally (to make better business decisions based on the weather), Weather Trends International can use bad summer weather to our sales advantage. In the summer, we have used targeted social media ads for farmers when bad (cold, rainy or stormy) weather keeps them inside. It's a great time to reach potential farm customers. In 2016, we increased sales 332% with this strategy.
26. SPIF Up Your Sales Performance
If your sales team is becoming stagnant, SPIFs, special performance incentive funds, may be the answer. Whether it be cash or non-cash rewards, SPIFs are a great way to motivate your sales team and increase performance. One of the advantages of using SPIFs is that they can be used to reach any specific goal - no matter how large or small. Likewise, the incentives themselves can range from gift cards, to big screen TVs, to weekend adventures - making them work within any budget parameter.
Erik Charles, VP of Product Marketing of Xactly
27. Leverage Sidewalk Chalk Art
Retail and restaurant businesses should try to take advantage of additional foot traffic that will come their way in the summer months. One way to exploit the opportunity is with sidewalk chalk art in front of their location that promotes their brand, events, and holidays like the 4th of July. They could even hold a contest for the best sidewalk chalk artwork to get community engagement. The artwork lends itself well to getting traction in social media, such as Facebook and Instagram.
28. Counter-intuitive Approach
I take the opposite approach. My website and other things are often neglected when things are busy. I take advantage of slow periods to beef up my website, do some long-awaited outreach and (if I'm lucky) sleep.
What one does during the slow periods fuels the engines to succeed when things get exciting again.
29. OFF Season Sale is a Game ON
The summer season of relaxation and peaceful minds can churn up people into potential buyers with a surprise twist of Off-Season Sales. There’s lesser competition in the market for brands and no pocket-digging festival pressure on buyers, but cozy time to indulge in offers like never before. This concoction of strategic marketing and the idle routine of customers invokes them to run to grab the hot selling deals, which in turn gives high returns to companies. Go solo and enjoy fruits!
30. Contests to Boost Summer Sale
To boost summer sales, nothing beats a Facebook contest. The plan is to engage customers through contests and sell products. An online clothing business, for example, can hold a Facebook contest requesting its customers to upload selfies with their summer outfit and win prizes. Further, customers can also be encouraged to tag friends and share posts to increase their chances of winning. This will bring in massive traffic to your online store that can be easily converted to sales by offering discounts.
31. Causes Convert Customers
In the era of “Social Responsibility Retail”, finding a cause or charitable organization to partner with for a donation drive, fundraising event, etc., can help attract new customers over the summer; specifically millennials. In addition, this partnership can aid in your storytelling. Share why you find the cause or organization so important, and you’ll discover that one-time customers will become lifelong, loyal ones.
32. It’s All About the Timing
Editorial calendars for fall boost our Public Relations summer revenue with client pitches. Based on work with the media, these timelines offer a good rule of thumb: Outside of breaking news, magazines have lead times ranging from 3 – 6 months; book reviews have us sending advance review copies to book reviewers, bloggers at least 3 - 4 months before publication; TV talk shows mean connecting with show hosts, producers and editors 3 - 5 weeks in advance of when you hope to be booked.
33. Staying Top of Mind
One thing that remains extremely effective is being visible in the community at events. If you are diligent in your efforts to stay in front of people, they won't think of anyone else but you when they need the product or service you provide. Summer can get busy, so make the effort to keep up appearances and you'll see the payoff.
Stephanie Larson of AmpliPhi
34. Don't Go Dark During Summer
While many see summer as a great excuse to slow things down, sit back and take it a little easier, I see an incredible opportunity to move the needle. If your business is selling something that’s truly of value to the market, rain, snow, nor sunshine will keep your customers away. Keep pushing, keep engaging!
Do you know any tips for boosting summer sales that weren’t included? Please share your thoughts below. And as always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!