For many small businesses, summer can be a sort of feast or famine time of year. Either they are super busy or business is super slow. Ironically, in either case, you will probably want some low cost ways to raise revenue. For the slower seasonal business the reasons are self-evident, and for the busier summer small business, summer promotions are a great way to stay ahead of the competition, which is also probably stronger this time of year for them as well.
Here then are 5 cool and affordable ways to raise revenue this summer:
1. Have a summertime contest: In line with the vibe of summer, contests are a great way to get noticed and bring people in the door. I once had a client who was a baker and summer was her worst time of year. Until we devised a “Best Banana Bread Contest.” She brought in some local celebrities as judges, got the newspaper interested in the event, and for a month every summer, created fantastic buzz around her contest. Summers weren’t slow anymore after that.
For you, think of a contest that ties what you do in with the season and create a summer contest around that.
2. Get some press: A correlation to #1 is the idea that some free PR can go a long, long way to both building your brand and raising your revenue. Tips:
- Come up with a newsworthy idea; the contest above for example, or the sponsorship of a local high school or some charity work you all are doing. Use the summer angle to your advantage. Whatever the case, it has to be newsworthy.
- Find the reporters or producers who cover that topic.
- Send them an email, and a follow up email. It may also behoove you to send them some sort of chunky package – something with some info about the event – and a knickknack in it. I say “chunky” because that package will be different and what you want is to get noticed.
- Follow up.
- Then, after you get that press, use that story forever – post it in your store window, on your website, tweet it, etc.
3. Create a summer rewards program: When you go to the market and check out, what do you do? If you are like many people, you scan in your rewards card to get discounts and deals. And it keeps you coming back to that store, doesn’t it? Well, if it works for the Big Boys, it will likely work for you too.
Model your program similarly. Give people a card or have some other way to track them, and then give them incentives for shopping with you this summer. Once they reach a certain level of “points” give them discounts and giveaways, or maybe a special sale one night in late summer (see below).
The key is to have an expiration date on the program (Labor Day for example), that way, you encourage people to take advantage of the deal.
4. Ask for, and get, referrals: In my dad’s carpet warehouse, he had a banner that said, “Our word of mouth advertising starts with you!” That was a not so subtle way of reminding people to send him referrals. Another example: I have a pal who wrote an advice book. Whenever someone emails him, asking for help, he says “I would be happy to help once you post a review, good or bad, about my book on Amazon.” He has over 100 reviews (mostly positive.) Those are a powerful form of referrals.
One more example: Back when I had a law firm, one slow summer I decided to open a new area of practice. I wrote to 100 former clients explaining what I was doing and asked them for referrals. Results from that letter kept me busy well into the next year.
But the thing is, if you want referrals, you gotta ask.
5. Have a summer sale: What do you love, what do all shoppers love? A sale! A sale draws people in, generates buzz, raises revenue, and creates customers. The secret is to take your products that are especially popular this time of year and have enough margins built in and offer them for less. Get the word out via signs, newsletters, flyers, ads, and social media. Have a start and end date.
And then sit back, pour yourself a margarita, and watch the customers flood in.