Although it may feel like winter will last forever, summer is just around the corner. Keep reading to learn seven small business marketing tips you can use to grow your business this summer.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram ‚Ä¶ if you aren't using these platforms yet, it's time to get on board. These days, having a social media presence on the web is crucial. If you don't feel tech savvy enough to keep your accounts active, consider hiring someone to do it for you. For instance, you might know a younger person who is into writing and/or photography and in need of some extra cash. If not, consider outsourcing the job to a digital media company. The great thing about this strategy is, once you grow a social media following, you can hold a contest that will help even more potential customers find out about your business.
Ask your Instagram followers to share a promotional post (such as a photo of your storefront or one of your products) and instruct them to tag one of their friends in the comments. To pick a winner, you can use a random comment selection tool such as commentpicker.com. Ideas for prizes might include a hefty discount on your services, a freebie, or even a cash prize. You can also give away a pair of tickets for an upcoming concert in your city or town. The better the incentive, the more people are likely to participate the more advertising you'll generate for your business! If you're wondering how to increase your following before you start holding contests, you can always start by taking out Facebook or Instagram ads. Although you'll need to pay for these, social media advertising is a great way to get the word out about your company while targeting your ideal clientele. And don't forget: advertising expenses are tax deductible in the eyes of the CRA.
Are your business cards up to date? How about your website? These elements aren't likely to generate much business in and of themselves, but making sure they are looking good and representative of your brand will ensure you are able to make solid business connections whenever the opportunity arises. If you're still using the business cards you printed at home on an inkjet printer you should definitely consider having cards printed professionally. Whether you decide to support a local printer or order them online from the likes of moo.com, official-looking cards will reflect better on your business.
This idea is a little more traditional, but in-person networking is much more effective than it is online. In fact, according to entrepreneur.com, "the ability to network is one of the most crucial skills any entrepreneur can have." Luckily, summer is a great season for in-person networking, since you're more likely to find events in a park or outdoor garden or patio. These type of "happy hour" events tend to be more relaxed than corporate affairs. Don't know where to start? Visit meetup.com and connect with like-minded business owners. If you can join a professional association or chamber of commerce in your area, see about attending their events. Pro-tip: If you feel comfortable with public speaking, a great way to connect with people is to prepare a short presentation about your expertise, how you got your start, or why it's important to hire an expert to do whatever it is you do. Get in touch with the event organizers and ask if they need an extra speaker. Giving a formal presentation will enable you to stand out among your peers and position yourself as a true expert in your field. People will also be more likely to approach you since they'll already know a little bit about you. You never know who might be listening!
The possibilities here are endless, but try to think of something related to your business. For instance, if you are a bike mechanic, you can teach your community how to change a flat bicycle tire. If you are a graphic designer, you might consider giving your community a crash course in Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. Or if you are a fitness trainer, think of hosting a free workout class. Maybe teaching other people how to do what you do seems counter-intuitive, but consider how unlikely it is that you would be able to run your business after a one-hour workshop. Either way, the pros far outweigh the cons, as your community will have nothing but positive associations with you after you've donated your time to teach them a tangible skill.
From Victoria Day (or May two-four, also known as Patriot's Day in Quebec) to Canada Day to Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day to Labour Day the summer season is rife with holidays you can use as an excuse to have a sale and get customers into your store.
Consider making the event more interesting by having a barbecue. You can always charge a nominal fee for things like hot dogs and lemonade, but setting aside a small budget for classic summer barbecue fare is a great way to interact with your community. The event may even pay for itself since ideally, you'll be making sales as well!
Take advantage of the opportunity to give your customers something they can take home that will remind them of your business. Think about branded matchbooks, pens, or stickers. You'll need to have these made in advance, but they are always good to have since people tend to hold on to these objects for a while. If your swag budget is a little larger, you can even go as far as having t-shirts, frisbees, and baseball caps made. Although this summer marketing idea may be a little pricier, items people can use will live on and provide you with more extensive marketing over the long term.
If you're an artist or artisan who works out of a studio or warehouse, consider holding an open house where your customers can see where the magic happens. This will also give them a chance to take a look at what you've been working on and buy any leftover stock you might have lying around. This idea can be especially fruitful if you are a designer or furniture maker with imperfect goods or prototypes you wouldn't normally sell in a shop or on your website. People with children will be more likely to attend if they know their kids will be entertained. A good way to make your event family-friendly is to schedule the event on a weekend and include an activity that children might like, such as face painting or an arts and crafts table. If you prefer the company of adults only, consider holding your event in the evening and making it a cocktail party.
Summer is the season for barbecues, food trucks, outdoor farmers' markets, and neighbourhood block parties. These events are excellent opportunities to set up a booth where you can let your community know about your business. If your business isn't conducive to setting up a booth at an outdoor event, consider hiring a street team to hand out flyers, brochures, or other swag. Whether you're a seasoned professional or new to entrepreneurship, building community relationships and connecting with your potential customers in real life is a great way to get new business. While we're not saying that you don't deserve a vacation, summer really is a great time to take your small business marketing ideas to the next level. So take advantage of the warm sunny weather, and make those in-person connections that will result in increased business. And if you wind up driving around to set up shop at an outdoor event or festival of some kind, make sure to log your miles with MileIQ! Doing so will allow you to track, log and document any distances you drive for business purposes, making it easier for you to deduct these expenses on your taxes.