Do you think sunny skies lead to a bad sales forecast? It doesn’t have to be that way. While the research shows that some traditional retail business categories will see a decrease in spending through the summer – it’s not because people suddenly need your products or services less – it’s that it’s harder to cut through the distraction that great weather brings. It’s harder to be relevant to your customer – and it’s much harder to generate a sense of urgency around the purchase. A little strategy goes a long way. Here are five things you can do this summer to keep your sales numbers from slipping.
Know what your customers are doing this summer.
What do your customers care about in the summer? How do they spend their days and nights? What do they value? What excites them? Why are they grinning from ear to ear? Know what those things are – and show that you care about them too. Also, if huge chunks of your customer base are all heading to the same place this summer – how can you be there too? Show them you value what they value – and remember, it all falls apart if you’re faking it. It has to be a genuine shared value.
Don’t cut prices. Add Value.
Don’t try to discount your way out of a sales slump. Don’t try to entice customers in by offering steep discounts. Discounts are designed to salvage money tied up in product that’s not moving, or to take a short-term revenue hit to earn repeat business. That’s a dangerous game to play with tourists in town. You could be wasting that discount on someone who isn’t even going to be around to buy from you again next week. Instead of reducing prices, find ways to add value. Change the product in a little way. Upgrade the experience. Offer an idea. You’re a pizza shop? Offer take-out orders everything they need to go enjoy the pizza with their family at a local park. Offer the Picnic Pizza Pack. You’re anticipating how your customers might use your product or service differently in the summer. If they go to the park and eat the pizza you’ve helped a family create a memory they’ll keep for a life time. But even if they take it home and eat while binging Forensic Files – you stand out because you talked about where a pizza fits in the life of your customer rather than just about your pizza and how great it tastes. Add value to the product or the experience and you’ll cut through the distraction of sunshine by being a part of it.
Be seasonal, even if your business isn’t.
Maybe you’re in an industry that isn’t particularly seasonal. There’s nothing special about what you’re doing right now that screams summer to your customers. How can we change that? What part of summer can you latch on to and show your customers that your head is in this sunshine too. Again, showing your customers that you value what they value. Maybe you’re a take-out diner and there’s nothing really seasonal about your menu – but by upgrading your standard side salad to summer greens – we’ve got something summery to talk about. Always have a grilled chicken burger? Let’s find a way to add some smokey summer flavor. You sell shoes? Upgrade your standard in-store photos to ones that filled with the sun, sand, and grass. Find a way to acknowledge the season. It’s easier than it seems.
Partner with someone who is seasonal.
This one takes some planning – but if you’re in a business that isn’t remotely seasonal – you can express your shared values by partnering with a business that is seasonal and brining some value to your customers. This can be a giveaway, a loyalty discount, or a co-branded offer. You’re an accountant or a lawyer and you’re trying to find a way to be a part of the summer? Partner with another local business – maybe even one of your existing customers – and offer something of value that’s connected to the summer. Do a BBQ giveaway, or a bicycle, or a green fees for a local golf course. Mark your 25th Summer in Business by giving away 25 free ice cream from a local ice cream shop. You’ll want to pick something that speaks specifically to your customers – but you can get the product or prize at or below cost as long as you’re willing to fold the partner into some of the exposure in-store or online. Want to keep all the glory yourself? Just go buy the item off the shelf and use it. Your hard cost will still be less than the amount of traditional advertising you would have to do to achieve the same level of relevancy through a traditional media buy. Pick the right partner at the right time and this can really get some momentum for both of you.
This is a really important piece of advice – and one I follow every single day. If you wake up every morning saying your summer sales are going to slump – they will. You’ll manifest it. You won’t bring your “A” game – your staff will pick up on it and adopt the same doom and gloom thinking. They’ll know you have lower expectations and some will take that as an opportunity to deliver a lower level of service. Sales don’t inherently slump because the sun in shining – our sales game suffers because the sun is shining. We get lazy, feel defeated, and we begin to listen to the voice in our head that’s telling us we’re in for a rough patch. Shut that thinking down! Get creative. Get relevant. Embrace summer. Talk about it. Connect with your customers. Ask what they’re doing. Show you share their values – and you’ve have still earned a solid sale, even if the cash register doesn’t ring today. You’ll be top of mind and the most connective brand in their mind when they suddenly find themselves back in the real world and once again needing to turn to you help solve their problem – whether they need a widget, a lunch, or some life insurance.
This and a whole lot more was the topic of SoLocal Live on Sunday, July 9 at 7:30PM.
You can watch the video at the top of this post. We do these every Monday night at 7:30. Join in! Have a question you want to ask? You can email me anytime.
Happy summer selling!