Summer presents ripe opportunities for building summer loyalty. The SBA offers some tried-and-true SMB marketing tips (see the sidebar) but we’ve got a few tips and tweaks of our own to wrap around them.
Sidebar: SBA Tips for Summer Marketing
1. Participating in summer festivals and fairs to build your brand and attract new customers.
2. Take your customers out. From golf and sporting events to winery tours and chartered fishing boats, the summer presents all kinds of opportunities to reward your most important customers.
3. Take your business on the road. This doesn’t work for all businesses, but if you’ve got a food business or appropriate retailer, you can follow your customers to vacation spots and sporting events.
4. Summer contests. If you serve up food, consider eating contests or cook-offs. If you’ve got a landscaping business, launch a “worst yard” contest for a free landscaping makeover. If you run pet stores or groomers or veterinary hospitals, organize pet shows with prizes. You get the idea – find something relevant to your business and make it fun.
5. Dress up your website. Many businesses decorate their websites for the holidays. Why not add some summer graphics to keep your image relevant and in sync with your customers?
* Note: Some of these activities require licenses, permits and other legalities. Make sure your paperwork is in order.
Our Tips for Summer Marketing
1. Give the gift of giving. We know what you’re thinking – if you host a customer appreciation event, you’re already giving back to your customers. No argument there. But summer is the season of fun and high spirits, and research demonstrates that nothing makes people happier than helping others. And doing so doesn’t mean that you have to choose between marketing and giving. Cook-off proceeds can go to a local soup kitchen, pet shows at your veterinary hospital can benefit the local shelter, and so on. These simple tweaks to promotion plans can turn your customers into partners and build employee morale while you’re at it. Plus, you’re a “people.” You’ll feel great about it, too.
2. Treat key customers like they’re key customers. Here’s an old-school method that consultants specializing in customer retention use to help executives gain perspective on the true value of their large customers: Take your ten largest customers, calculate their annual spend with your company and then multiply that by 10, assuming your goal is to hold those customers for at least a decade. When you have that number, ask yourself this: What are you doing to keep those customers, representing that level of spend, satisfied? The answer’s usually “not enough.” An exercise like this can put’s tickets to the game, a day on the golf course or a fishing trip on a chartered boat in a different light.
3. Show, don’t tell. In recent years, customer satisfaction surveys have become a marketing tactic – a method for communicating to customers that a company cares what its customers think. And with this shift in focus from inbound intelligence to outbound communications, customers have become numb to survey requests. You can break through the noise by sharing survey results while detailing how your company is responding to customer feedback, and summer customer loyalty or marketing events offer prime opportunities to maximize the reach of those efforts.
4. Remind customers of your value proposition. Sometimes, seasonal promotions become so much about the season than the company or the offer. Make sure you keep your own brand and value proposition up front. Using our own company as an example, we might point out that by letting us take care of your connectivity, cloud and continuity requirements, you have more time to focus on your company’s core business activities, like planning summer marketing and customer loyalty programs. (Yeah, we really did just slip that in there…)
5. Get testimonials. Whether you’re pursuing marketing campaigns, customer loyalty programs or both this summer, you’ll have prime opportunities to get customer testimonials while they’re happy. Keep your smartphone handy.