Business philosopher Jim Rohn says that, “life and business are like the changing seasons. You cannot change the seasons, but you can change yourself.” For many small business owners (particularly those aimed at the college market), the summer season represents not only a change in weather, but a transformation of the market itself. Students are moving, people are traveling, and a surfeit amount of activities reveal themselves to the consumer as the sun warms the Earth into motion. Summer marketing challenges lie in maintaining brand recognition among those who leave while at the same time differentiating from the everyday marketing routine to attract new customers: the remaining niche group. This is a feat not easily achieved, especially when one considers the patterns most marketing plans are structured towards. Dipping two feet in different streams, all while under a smaller sized budget, can seem somewhat daunting to those without a full-fledged marketing department. But once one gains insight into some obtainable strategies, a shift in content style could be the change needed to cut through summer noise and rise to the top of the ranks.
Social media is the best way to keep in touch with those not physically near a location while still marketing towards new customers. The trick to summer social media marketing is to tweak content style- keeping those who aren’t around reading your wall, and appealing to the interest of one’s short term new buyer personas. If, as a restaurant, photos of food generates the majority of content shared; add a third-party Facebook app and start running contests (make sure the prize is worth-while). If one specializes in year round promotions, perhaps photo/video sharing is the way to go. As physical proof of what people are missing will entice new viewers into a “trial mode”. The central theme in content sharing over the summer should be more than just the usual dialogue between friends. The market has changed, and so should one’s page.
Add a Content Stream
The cheapest and most radical way to climb up the summer social ranks is to add a completely new content stream into the wave of social sharing. YouTube is one of the most popular social sites that businesses (for whatever reason) seem to ignore. With the use of a well designed flip or camera phone, one can use their customers as the focal point of their content data (a massive advantage when it comes to local sharing). Filming a DJ mixing at one’s venue, an all-you-can-eat food challenge, or any sort of fun event or promotion encourages both participation and sharing by simply adding the prospect of a customer finding video of themselves online. Perhaps the most advantageous aspect of video sharing is that a business is literally as limited as their own imagination allows. And the more creative the project, the more one’s business will stand out- and the more local hits will accumulate.
Support a Summer Event
One of the best attributes summer brings along is the freeing from a structured schedule. Wednesdays could potentially become just as crucial to success as the usual weekend trio. Take a cue from bars and try running daily summer deals. A big enough discount is bound to attract those looking to try something new, and one might find a diamond where there once was just rough.
Coupon, Coupon, Coupon
Focused on bringing in new business over the summer? Nothing interests people more than a well placed coupon. Many business owners feel that paying to run a coupon during the months where their market decreases is a negative (as less will be around to see it). The truth is that passive marketing never helped any business grow. The key to winning with coupons is that one has to make the discount large enough to build excitement. With a coupon backed by an aura of excitement, those who remain could potentially form a funnel that translates into a sort of tipping point that grows business way past the summer months.