Does your creative business go into a slump when summer rolls around?
When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. With the kids out of school, vacations planned, and more outdoor events and activities going on, your customers may be spending less time thinking about your creative business.
That doesn’t mean that you should resign yourself to the slump. Summer can be a time to take…or more to the point, “make” some productive and profitable opportunities for yourself. If summer has been a slow time for you in the past, here are some ideas on how to make this summer one of your best ever:
1. “Summerize” your inventory and promotions– There are some things just that sell much better in the summer. Items like summer clothing; hats, swimwear, beachwear, and related accessories typically do really well at this time of year for obvious reasons. Kids are out of school…so anything that keeps them busy like toys, games, DIY kits…will also be quite popular. Things that support outdoor activities like cookouts, camping, picnics and days at the beach also tend to see a spike in sales when summer rolls around. Does any of your work fit in with some of the more popular summer items? Can you put a summer-like spin on some of your regular best sellers to make it more appealing for summer sales?
You may also consider creating seasonal products or items that you only bring out during the summer. I offer anklets and jewelry with a patriotic theme during the beginning of summer and then retire them for the rest of the year after Labor Day. Think about putting a summer-like theme on your promotions and product imagery. This will help your customers imagine enjoying your items now instead of waiting until after the summer. And if you sell on Etsy, don’t forget to adjust your listing tags so that people looking for summer related items can find you.
2. Plan a summer special– Last year Amazon boosted their sales by planning a monster special right in the middle of July (and Wal-Mart boosted theirs by following suit). Is there a summer promotion that you can plan to help boost your summer sales? Remember that a promotion doesn’t always have involve lowering prices. You can always offer free shipping, bundle discounts, or a free gift with purchase.
3. Forge new connections– If your customers are out and about during the summer, why don’t you do the same? While the Internet can be a good place to find customers, it certainly isn’t the only place. Get out of your studio and get yourself out there. Participate in some local craft shows, think about selling at your local farmer’s market, hold an open studio, teach a class, or find an outdoor location with a lot of foot traffic and demonstrate what you do. Getting out more not only opens up some more potential sales, but can also direct more people to your website as well.
4. Network– If you haven’t already done so, get out there to your local galleries and gift shops or pick up the phone and talk to gallery owners. A lot of gallery owners them do their buying in the summer in preparation for the holidays. So this would be a great time to introduce yourself. If you’re going on vacation, keep an eye out for some potential sales opportunities.
Make an effort to network with local artists as well. Find some local artist’s groups and met your fellow artists. You can exchange information about shows, marketing ideas, and opportunities from other artists. See if you can organize some group marketing or sales opportunities with other artists by doing some joint open studios or exhibitions or co-op advertising.
5. Try new things– Use the slower pace to try something new in your creative business. Quietly introduce a new product or a new line to your best customers and see how it does. Learn a new technique and apply it to your work. Research other potential customers and audiences for your work and come up with ways to connect with them. (The Ideal Customer video in the Creative Business Toolbox can show you how to identify potential new customers). Launch a contest or try doing a flash sale and see what happens. If your experiment doesn’t work out, the slower traffic makes it less of a risk…and you would have learned something in the process.
6. Start preparing for the holidays– If things are slow, why not start preparing for the busy holiday season now? Start building your holiday inventory. Begin building up an inventory of packing materials and gift wrap. A lot of packaging companies are already displaying their holiday lines so you order now to avoid the last minute ordering rush.
Begin planning your holiday promotions now. If some of your promotion plans involve things that has a long lead time like booking ads and ordering postcards, get that out of the way now so you’re not scrambling at the last minute. You can use the Holiday Marketing Planner in the Creative Business Toolbox to help you plan your holiday promotions.
7. Try a new marketing technique– Have you been meaning to start an email list, but hadn’t gotten a chance? Been wanting a chance to see what Instagram’s all about? Or maybe you’ve been thinking about giving Facebook ads a try. Why not try it now? Use the slower summer months to learn and experiment with a new marketing technique. If your experiments go well enough, you can put them to use during the holiday season.
8. Plan an “end of summer” special– Consider taking advantage of some marketing opportunities that comes towards the end of summer, like “back to school” specials, end of summer clearances, or early holiday shopping promotions.
9. Freshen up your branding– Does your logo need some updating? Are your business cards out of date? Perhaps it’s time to freshen up your Etsy store or website. Use the slower summer months to reevaluate and improve your branding materials. In addition to freshening up your website, consider catching up on some basic maintenance as well. The Maintenance Checklist for Websites, Blogs, and Etsy stores in the Creative Business Toolbox can give you a rundown of common maintenance tasks for your website, blog or Easy store.
10. Do a mid-year review– Summer-time marks the mid-point of the year. So it’s a good time to take a look at what you’ve been doing in your business in the past six months and making plans for the next six. Take a day (or two) to sit down, look over your accomplishments of the previous six months, see what you can improve, and then make a plan for the rest of the year. Click here to get a full rundown on how to do a mid-year review for your creative business.
If your summer months tend to be slower for your business it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t continue to hustle. The sales and opportunities that you build for yourself during the “slow” season can benefit you for the rest of the rest year and for a long time to come.