Ah, the lazy days of summer. Time to play in the sun, hang out with your friends, and have the kids home from school. Or maybe it’s time for a barbeque or a trip to the beach. And then there’s always summer vacation to take up a bit more time…
All those summertime activities can mean a slow-down for small businesses. Even if you, as a small business owner, are not the one doing the lazing about!
Your clients may be too preoccupied with their kids home for the summer to really get down to business (especially if your target audience is stay-at-home moms!). They may be distracted by social events, and unable to focus on spending time on reviewing the project or creating any client-side deliverables (or to even get around to reviewing vendors and making a hiring decision). They may just be out of town, on a much-needed vacation and not answering your emails and voicemails.
What’s a small business to do? Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean that you don’t still need clients (unless you’re distracted by kids out of school or lucky enough to be going on vacation as well!) Here are some ideas to help get some momentum going in your business when things slow down:
1. Create and promote a quick and easy way that clients can work with you. Package up a small, in-demand portion of your services and make it easy for people to buy. Consider making this a project that has limited client deliverables, so that the client does not have to give you much information to get the project started. That way, frazzled clients who don’t have a ton of time to go through the custom-quoting process, or to figure out how they can use your services, will have an easy answer — and will be more likely to buy.
Once you’ve created this package of services or products, create marketing materials so that you can tell people about the package. After all, no one can buy your package if they don’t know that it exists! Make a flyer to take to networking events and to distribute to any marketing partners you may have. Post the package on your website, in your blog and on your newsletter. If you have a postal mailing list, then create a postcard and send that out to your prospects.
2. Take the time to update your website. It’s always helpful (not just in slow times) to make sure that your website is current and that it’s talking about the things that you’re promoting in your business now — so that when you give out your cards at a networking event, and people decide to research your business online, they are getting accurate information.
This can be as easy as creating a “what’s new” page or section on the home page and updating that occasionally. However, if you haven’t updated your site in a while, you may want to review all of the content and make sure that it’s still applicable to your current business offerings, methodology, and target audience. If this is the case, you may want to make the task less daunting by tackling the site a page or two at a time instead of trying to edit all of the text in one session.
3. Improve your search engine ranking. Refreshing your website content — and doing that with search engine optimization in mind — can help with your search engine rankings. If you improve your search engine ranking, then you can get more clients — or potential clients who sign up for your newsletter – through your website.
Do this by improving your headlines and title tags to have keyword-rich phrases in them. And then think about what you want the visitor to do once they’re on your site, and make that clear and easy to do.
4. Make your marketing more strategic. This may mean being more strategic and planning out your marketing calendar for the rest of the year. If you have a strategy, it can help make your marketing more effective by making it more organized for your customers.
For example, if you publish an online newsletter, take the time to figure out what services you’d like to promote at which times of the year, and then plan out article topics to support those promotions.
5. Get ahead in your marketing. As a follow-on to the point above, if you have the time, you may take planning one step further into execution — which means writing your newsletter and getting them all formatted for release (Code them into HTML, or upload them into your template in your email program, for example. Or, pre-write some posts for your blog and schedule them to go out in the future.) That way, while you’re busy, after your marketing has worked and brought in clients, you’ll have your marketing program all set up and ready to go with a small amount of effort.
This may also mean getting some pieces designed so that you can better promote yourself and your company. If you have some time, you will be more able to focus on writing the text for any marketing materials you may create (like a brochure or website). And, you’ll be able to focus on working with a designer to get the pieces designed. Then, you can get them printed and start promoting!
6. Make your marketing more “Do-It-Yourself”. Take the marketing piece that you use or refer your clients to most often, and make it something that can grow with your company — and that you don’t have to take back to your designer every time you want to make an edit. Make it so that you can easily update it, work with it, and make changes to it.
For example, you may ask your website de
signer to hook up your website so that you have access to change the text on it easily. Or, you may start up a blog so that you can regularly write about your business. You may choose to take this time to learn more about your newsletter sending service and its’ capabilities — or to train yourself how to set up your own items in your shopping cart. Or, set up a customizable flyer as a Word document, with an eye-catching header with your logo in it, and editable text. That way, you can customize your own flyer as you create different promotions, or go to different networking events — and not have to pay for every change.
So, if you don’t have the luxury of being (or the inclination to be) lazy in your business this summer, those ideas should keep you busy improving your marketing, and getting readier for busier times. They should also help you land a few customers who are still in “business mode” to keep the momentum going in your business.