Tuesday, August 11, 2015

3 Tips for Steering Your Small Business Through a Summertime Slump

Small businesses typically see less activity during the summer months (and as a one-person shop, businesses don't come any smaller than mine, so I know whereof I speak). For one thing, it's hard to get vacationing decision makers on the phone or schedule one-to-one meetings with them. But it's not just you -- even Wall Street tends to take a nap at this time of year. So how do you keep afloat and productive during this annual lull? Here are three suggestions.

1. Offer Summer Specials

As soon as school is out and the mercury starts to rise, what do you see? Special offers everywhere, from holiday-themed sales to back-to-school discounts. You've probably responded to a few of these hot deals in your time -- and you can employ the same strategy to boost your own business during the summer doldrums. You don't have to sell swimming apparel or barbecue frills to benefit from this strategy, either. Anything that appeals to a B2C or B2B audience can move if it you give it the right kind of push. A back-to-school sale, for instance, can pay off hugely whether you're selling clothes, electronic gear, Internet bandwidth or just about anything else that you can tie back to the theme. People are always ready to take advantage of a great offer -- and summertime always provides a great excuse to make them one!

2. Keep Networking

I've written more than once about the power of networking to put you in front of prospective buyers, vendor partners and referral buddies. But at this time of year, I usually see a drop-off in the number of business owners and sales reps attending networking groups and events. Some of these people are on a well-deserved vacation; others are wrangling kids at home and can't make their usual breakfast or lunch meetings; still others are ducking the oppressive heat we get here in Central Texas. The scrawny attendance numbers only encourage others to skip as well. ("Ahh, nobody's gonna be there anyway....") Come September, of course, these folks realize that they have zero new business coming in. Oops!

Don't let all the great excuses for not networking keep you out of the mix this summer. By all means, enjoy your vacation and keep your kids out of trouble -- but whenever possible, go out of your way to make strategic appearances here and there. You want to remain visible, stay in the interactive groove, and have those lucrative business conversations with networking partners, if only to make sure you're actually laboring by Labor Day.

3. Spruce Up Your Marketing Content

One of the biggest obstacles for so many of us who are responsible for our own marketing is the sheer time and effort required to get our marketing content up to date and up to scratch. Blogging, for instance, requires a steady commitment, while permanent website content must reflect the business's current products, services, brand identity and overall mission. On top of that, there may be sales letters to create, press releases to write, and who knows what else.

If your summer is a bit on the sleepy side, why not use it to get caught up (or even ahead) on your marketing content? For instance, you can create a whole pile of blog articles on evergreen topics for later publication. You can rewrite or even redesign your entire website to make sure it's packing a stronger punch. Or you can sit down and devise that new long-range marketing plan you've really needed ever since you first opened your doors. Summertime can be a very productive marketing time, with or without professional assistance.

So don't let the dog days of summer drag your small business down. Fight back by making this time of year pay off big time. Have a great summer -- and a profitable year!