With a plane ticket burning a hole in your pocket and an excitement that keeps you up throughout the night, summer vacation has a certain spirit that simply cannot be manufactured. This very same joy that encourages travel and adventure can be skillfully channeled by the businesses that make up our dream destinations. But to capture that spirit authentically is a challenge in and of itself. We turned to Renee Perkins, Founder and CEO of Nantucket Island Marketing, for her expertise in the field of summer-oriented promotion.
For the purposes of this article, we are going to categorize businesses into two general groups: brick & mortar and online. Both categories may apply to certain businesses depending on their size and capacity. No matter which of the two you feel better describes your business, the timing of the summer season will remain consistent.
Defining the Timing of the Summer Season
You are not going to be able to capitalize on summer tourism if the season sneaks up on you. So, you need to be prepping early. These questions then arise—when exactly is the summer season for business and when should you be gearing up? Beyond the classically associated June-through-August period, businesses begin preparation for summer traffic in early spring. According to Renee, “We are prepping and beginning advertising for the summer in the early spring as it’s a great way to get your audience excited for summer weather and summer activities when the first hints of spring come.”
If your business requires purchasing deals with outside vendors for products to be stocked in the summer, those deals must be made months in advance to ensure that stock will be available when it is needed. Specifically for those involved in clothing retail, consumers will be looking to freshen up their wardrobes for the summer starting in the spring and into the summer. Despite how ridiculous it might feel to be placing orders for tank tops and shorts while there is still a light dusting of fresh snow on the ground, remember that people will be emerging from winter hibernation with a single thing on their mind: ‘Summer is coming and I am getting myself somewhere warm, ASAP (without my sweatpants and sweaters.)’
Brick & Mortar Stores
The golden key to sales in storefront locations is foot traffic. Working to entice and encourage individuals to come inside and peruse is one of, if not the best, efforts you can pursue with funding and time as a business. Chances are if one person walks in, it will grab the attention of others and soon your store will be bustling about as the chatter of the town.
“We talk to a lot of our businesses about the ‘experience’ they are offering in their store beyond what they sell. Creating photographable backdrops in dressing rooms or in the lounge area of your store, or upping the overall experience is a great way to increase foot traffic. Also – Whether you offer a product or service, it is always important to focus on the customer experience inside your store. You can offer water (or wine 😉 ) or have certain signature aromas that are conversation starters and attract more traffic in your door,” Renee said.
While people might not remember the exact products stocked on the shelves, they will remember the experience they had in your store. Appealing distinctly to the five senses will set you apart and mark a place for your brand in the minds of your customers.
Even the slightest action such as leaving the door to your store open during business hours can encourage visitors to feel welcome and anticipated by staff. Place yourself in the shoes of the visitor and step outside during a quiet hour. Come inside and take in the experience through the eyes of a patron: this can guide you towards changes you can make to foster a more comfortable environment. Here’s a summed-up list of ideas to get you started:
- Open up your door! (If your temperature regulation budget allows!)
- Invest in scent regulation products: choose a light and airy smell to please your customers’ sense of smell.
- Install bright and warm lighting to mimic the summer sunlight.
- Set up a small lounge area.
- Stock up on drinks: wine, seltzers, sodas…whatever speaks to your clientele! As a general note, always keep a stash of water bottles in your store as you might have some heat-weary visitors step in for a break in the AC.
- Encourage your employees to create a connection with the customer. If you are in a tourist area, you might have some travelers who would be grateful for someone to open the conversational door to them so they can feel comfortable asking for directions or recommendations from a local. As the store’s leader, inspire compassion!
Let’s switch gears into the world of online commerce. While this might not be true tourism, per say, factors such as newly discovered leisure time, looser spending tendencies during the summer, and the new reality that is an ever-changing world in regards to in-person health and safety thanks to the pandemic.
“Whether people visit or not, everyone wants to capture the ‘essence’ of summer or their destination through momentos. Some people may not be able to make it to their favorite place or particular destination, while others maybe couldn’t decide in the moment if they wanted the particular item and decided to purchase it later online. Oftentimes, there is only so much stock a store can carry on-location and there may be additional sizes/options online,” Renee said.
Freshening up your font family, color scheme, and general website display for the summer can snatch a passing internet surfing eye. Here’s a few more ideas to spark your inspiration:
- Design a seasonal logo.
- Revamp your website aesthetic to foster a warm, sunny atmosphere.
- Feature your summer-oriented products and/or services on your homepage.
- Consider filming a short seasonal welcoming video to greet visitors to your website.
- Run an annual summer sale or event. (You can of course also apply this to an in-person store!)
If you have not yet already, consider this your sign to dive into the world of social media marketing. According to an article from beon. Worldwide, social media action nearly doubles when compared to that of other seasons. Users of popular platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok can often find themselves drawn in by an alluring and creative advertisement, whether it be through a photo sequence post or video. We live in a visual world first, especially as our attention spans gradually decrease in favor of fast-paced content.
“No matter what you are selling or offering, there is always an opportunity to market or spin your products beyond just your ‘typical’ season. It is very important to have a good strategy in place so sales aren’t dead in your off-season, or see a significant dip at certain times in the year.
It is really important to start ramping up your marketing and getting the word out long before you think you need to. Especially if you are a new brand, it’s important to start making touch points and connections with your audience before your on-season so people are more comfortable and familiar with what you are offering. As many seasonal businesses know, there isn’t much downtime in the on-season, so you should have a plan in place for any promotions, launches, or events long before the season hits for the most effective results possible,” Renee said.