As the temperatures rise, get ready to roll out those deals, those bargains and those shopping incentives: It's time to put your summer marketing plan in place. Because even though shoppers may be on vacation, they're not taking a vacation from spending.
In fact, summer may be the best season for small businesses to win new business from vacationing customers. And one of the smartest ways to attract new business is to embrace mobile marketing through mobile technology and social media platforms.
Mobile Marketing for the Masses
So how can retailers, restaurateurs and other small-business owners who sell more impulse-driven products best market to and catch those customers who are ready to spend? Here are five ways to attract a vacationing mobile market:
1. Offer mobile-only sales. One strategy Billy Bauer, marketing director for Royce Leather, a handmade leather accessories company in Secaucus, New Jersey, employs is to offer deals to customers on mobile-only platforms, whether it's via a website or text message. As Bauer rightly notes, your vacationing shoppers aren't likely to be hauling around their laptops with them or stopping by their hotels or B&Bs to check for sales or coupons on their desktop computer. But they are likely to be tapping on their phones and tablets, so this is where you need to capture them.
"If a customer goes to buy something from you," Bauer says, "they may get irritated if you don't have a solid mobile presence, and they'll leave to buy from someone else instead." Offering mobile deals is especially important during the summer season to catch people on the go.
2. Tap into your social media followers. Jonathan Goodman, president of Internet marketing company Halyard Consulting, says, "The best bang for our buck comes from using Pinterest and Instagram when integrated and monitored with trending hashtags. For example, a restaurant using Pinterest can create a specific board around a meal, showing elements of the order along with people enjoying it. In fact, you can provide incentives to your customers to pin their meals to your board."
The idea, of course, is to foster sharing on social media platforms. Goodman also notes that aesthetics are an important part of your summer marketing vibe. "As a retailer with a physical product, you can utilize Instagram filters to add mood to a summer holiday or event," he says. So go ahead and select the "Toaster" filter to add an aged, burnt quality to your next summer-themed shot.
3. Tie promotions in to summer sports. Create marketing promotions for fans of summer sports with specials based on home runs, team rivalries or just the spirit of warm-weather sports. Darren Leigh, marketing director at Leighmans, a promotional business gifts company, offers an example: "In the run up to the 2012 Olympic Games, we ran an email marketing campaign showcasing our gold, sliver and bronze ‘medal-winning’ products, and we offered a 20.12 percent discount." How did the plan work? "It was a gimmicky way to promote our bestsellers," he says, "but it resulted in a 10 percent click-through rate and a number of significant orders."
4. Pay attention to demographics. Reaching out via mobile devices can be a timing- and demographic-sensitive move for small businesses, says Tracy Kunzi, director of client and creative services at Outspoken Media, an SEO consulting company. "In the case of content, 23 percent of women versus 16 percent of men say they use their mobile phones for coupons," Kunzi says. "And 47 percent of women say they'd give their location in order to receive a $25 store credit. Women want valuable content at the right time and place.”
5. Dial it back. Be careful not to spoil the underlying notion of summer when it comes to your marketing promotions. In other words, play it cool. Businesses that bombard consumers with too many messages can drive prospects away rather than draw them in. But don't be subtle about what you're offering: As always, pack your well-paced outreach with clear calls to action.
With a bit of imagination and some savvy matching of your offers to the themes of summer, small-business owners can hope to see an influx of customer interest. And that's a sure way to beat those summertime blues.
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