I recently spent the day with a marketer facing some pretty worrying cash flow issues. While he was confident things would pick up come Black Friday and the holidays, he needed to generate some extra cash to keep the wolf from the door.
The summer months can be difficult for a lot of businesses. They need to pay out for all the things that keep their businesses ticking over (staff, office space, warehousing, etc.) as well as to invest heavily in the things that will deliver a significant return come the end of the year. And while all this money is going out the door, very little is coming back in. Because of this, I see more businesses hitting bottom and going bust during the summer months than at any other time of the year.
The Summer Hustle
My advice for the marketer was simple: He would have to hustle if he wanted to see September.
7 Summer Slump Sales Strategies
- The Summer Sale: Listen, I hate discounting as much as the next person — but if you are ever going to have a sale, summer is the perfect time to free up cash in end-of-line and slow-moving products. One of the reasons a summer sale works so well for many businesses is that everyone else is short of money during the summer months too. Business customers may also be struggling with cash flow, and the general public is often stretched financially by the extended school summer holidays. Everyone loves a bargain at this time of the year.
- Go Multichannel: OK, I know channels like eBay and Amazon can all but destroy an already wafer-thin profit margin — but at times of crisis, any extra dollar, pound or euro you can bring into the business should be welcome.
- Liquidate Stock: Some distressed inventory may be beyond help. Get rid of it and turn it into cash. There are companies that will buy end-of-line stock, last season’s inventory and even returns. Seek them out and make a deal. It may also be possible to bundle up products and sell them wholesale via platforms like eBay.
- Increase Your Marketing Momentum: While you might not have the money to spend on acquisition marketing channels like paid search or traditional print/broadcast advertising, more cost-efficient marketing channels like email and social media provide the perfect low-cost environment to boost your sales. They also provide the perfect medium to market your business while people are on vacation or enjoying the summer sun. While many people will spend much less time in front of their computers during the summer months, they’ll never be very far from their mobile phones or tablet devices.
- Cut Costs: Take the time to look at all your outgoings and figure out where you can save money. Shop around for a better deal on packaging, shipping, energy and all those items you need to buy to run a business (stationery, cleaning supplies, etc.). A dollar saved is a dollar earned, and while it might be a little late to help your business this summer, you’ll be glad you did something now when you find yourself in a similar situation next summer.
- Plan Ahead: Don’t go running into your busy Q4 period without a plan. Yes, you might make the bulk of your income during this incredibly busy period — but you probably also throw a lot of money away as you spend inefficiently. Could becoming more efficient during your next peak period help you weather the summer slump next year? Don’t run at things, make “educated” guesses or play the “busy fool” — these inefficiencies will lead to less-than-optimized revenue retention. Make sure all your marketing campaigns are lined up in advance — with extra capacity factored in should things not go according to plan.
- Learn from History: Learn from previous successes and failures. What could be tweaked to make things better? Did something fail because a single, fixable element wasn’t right — or should the whole experience be consigned to the trash? Never flog a dead horse — instead, test new ideas (now) and make an effort to innovate.
Service Industries, Take Note: While this advice was created with a retail business in mind, most (all) of the strategies can be adapted to suit the needs of any business model.
How will you survive the summer slump and hustle your way through to September? Share your experiences below:
This post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.