Creative Summer Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

Ah, summertime. That wonderfully warm time of year when many small businesses earn 40 percent or more of their profits for the year due to the onset of tourism. However, for the rest of us, the dog days of summer may be our slowest sales cycle.

If June, July and August leave you with empty pockets, first take a look at how you’re packaging your business in order to increase revenue. Ask yourself, is there a better way to position your services and products as a great summer offer?

Attract More Customers This Summer

Try these 5 marketing strategies coupled with my handy summer word bank:


#1 — Appeal to Tourists (especially if you’re not in the tourist industry)
For example, suppose you’re a family therapist. Consider marketing a summer workshop series for visitors and local residents. Remember, tourists are constantly looking for things to do. After all, a person can only eat, drink and shop so much.

Your promotional message could be, “Looking for something unique to do this summer? Try one of our fun family workshops, including: Hey Kids, No Means No! Proven parenting strategies to minimize button pushing.”

Or, “Why Don’t You Get Me? Our most popular and relaxed 30-minute workshop where couples deepen their desire for each other by learning how to communicate in the style their mate most prefers.”

Effective Advertising Channels
Key advertising channels to reach tourists include: chamber of commerce, visitor center, library, local community map/booklet, local shop/restaurant storefronts and Google Maps advertising. (More on the latter below.) In each instance, seek online and offline posting opportunities, i.e., a local coffee shop posts your flyer on their bulletin board and mentions your workshop on their Facebook page.

Remove Word-of-Mouth Obstacles
You’ll receive far more exposure if you personally prepare all marketing materials, leaving the above store owner only one job — distributing your message. Specifically, write your Facebook post copy, accompanied with a photo. Then send this marketing “kit” to the coffee shop owner. If you rely on the shop owner to write your copy, then the message may not be as effective, nor distributed as often because you’re asking the owner to do something before they even have a chance to get to the distribution stage.

Another Promotional Example
Suppose you’re an estate planning attorney. Try advertising a “Summer Will Special.” Your promotional material could read, “Spend an hour with us this summer and we’ll help you take care of your loved ones for when you no longer can.” Include a special summer discount or bundle in another service for free or at a reduced rate.

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#2 — Create a Staycation for Local Residents
Community members are constantly searching for fun and affordable activities that’ll get them out in the sunshine close to home. Try creating a staycation marketing campaign.

For Example:
If you’re marketing a hair salon, promote a hair camp for teenagers. Gather at a local park and teach them how to french braid while parents receive a complimentary chair massage. With follow-up, these same teenagers and parents could go on to be repeat paying customers.

Many community parks and town centers have gazebos. Contact your local parks department to reserve it. Be sure to post signs so passersby can see your brand message and have flyers on hand to promote other upcoming events.

Reach Prospects In Real-Time on Mobile Devices
One of the most popular searches your customers make on their mobile device is a local location search, i.e., restaurants, entertainment, etc. Consider advertising your local event using Google Adwords within its new Google Map advertising channel. As someone searches for local information, your fun ad displays an enticing activity whereby the searcher clicks through to your landing page and signs up for your workshop, camp, etc.

#3 — Pick Up & Go
If business is slow, then pick up and go where your prospects and customers are hanging out. If they’re congregating one street over, approach your town clerk’s office and ask to obtain a temporary license to display your products at a high foot-traffic location in your downtown. If a hot dog vendor can park their cart on a sidewalk, then why can’t you?

Or, select a location with high vehicle traffic and plenty of parking. Ideally you’re looking for a location where cars can conveniently pull over, while other drivers can see what all the excitement is about and still have time to stop. This marketing distribution approach works well for: food retailers, gift basket retailers, artists and pretty much any small business that traditionally does well selling at an outdoor festival.

Outdoor Customer Gathering Spots
Consider approaching your local parks department to set up an outdoor display at your community’s favorite gathering spot. Also, piggybacking onto farmer’s markets is another very affordable advertising channel. The latter typically have a very strong Facebook and other social following for you to distribute photos of your products and services and promote your special offers for event day.

Hidden Ongoing Profits
Keep in mind that you’re not just trying to make sales during any given event; rather, you’re selling onsite and post-event. The latter is where you’ll increase your residual revenue. Case-in-point: Last summer I regularly attended my local farmer’s market. After purchasing some stuffed clams at the fish vendor’s table, they informed me that they deliver and collected my email address. Immediately after, they began sending me messages ahead of time to promote the stock they’d have on hand at the next market. I now also use their home delivery.

Mistakes Small Business Owners Repeatedly Make
I’ve been coaching small business owners on how to grow a business affordably and swiftly for more than 17 years. The following are the two key mistakes that most entrepreneurs make:

  1. Implementation Efforts are Uneven: Before embarking on any advertising campaign, always plan ahead for your pre, middle and post marketing activities. Most entrepreneurs focus on the pre-launch. This is a mistake. Your planning and implementation efforts should be evenly distributed. If you lean toward one phase, then choose follow-up activities. When you focus most of your efforts on post-event follow-up, you’ll close the greatest amount of business.
  2. Lack of Repetition: If you ran a summer marketing campaign last year, then repeat it this year. Feel free to build upon it, but repeat it. Any highly successful marketing campaign is solidly grounded in repetition.

#4 — Express Coolness

If you’re operating a brick and mortar, display a prominent sign promoting your air-conditioning. Increase store traffic by helping customers feel comfortable.

To attract more attention, consider placing fans blowing with streamers outside your storefront. Keep in mind that you want something rugged to withstand windy days.

The idea is to subliminally express that it’s cool and comfortable inside your store, increasing walk-ins. Also, consider posting a sign that reads: free iced tea or lemonade, and then position the refreshment setup in your front window for passersby to see.

#5 — Display a HOT Special
Online retailers should pay particular attention to making your websites appear current. The fastest and most affordable way is to use seasonal sales copy, such as “HOT Summer Deals.” The more current your site looks, the more active and popular it’ll appear to visitors and, therefore, the more you’ll sell. Offline and online retailers should consider running a mini sidewalk sale every day. Display your best and most aggressively-priced sale items just in front of your store or on your home page. Put your best foot forward and customers will be enticed to come in and buy more.


Relate to your customers using these seasonal words within your social and advertising copy:

Have I forgotten any summer related words? Please expand my list by adding to the comment section below.

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Thanks for reading and sharing!