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Summertime Blues: Busting Out of Summer Sales Slumps with Disruptive Campaigns

My definition of “summertime blues” is fly fishing rod in my hand, standing waist deep in a stream, out in the mountain wilderness, though I realize this doesn’t quite jive with the way businesses mean it.

The summertime sales slump is well known, especially for small businesses. People are on vacation (see above, gone fishin’), spending more time at home with the kids or it’s just not the season for whatever you’re selling.

But just because that summertime blues have gotten you down in the past doesn’t mean that you can’t grab your own fly fishing rod and make this the best damn summer yet. You just have to get a bit creative with some disruptive campaigns that jar your audience with an unexpected experience.

A quick note about what I mean by disruptive. I don’t want you to get crazy and have a man in a chicken suit pop into a customer’s office to sing a little ditty about your sizzling summer sale. Disruptive means out of the ordinary (within reason), something different than what you usually do. Although sometimes, it can mean zinging in the perfect thing at just the right time.  For those of you that share my passion for fishing, it would be like introducing a bright green streamer in a river where the fish traditionally bite on boring old woolly buggers.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Summer Swag This blog has some awesome disruptive ideas for small businesses in particular, my favorite being their idea for handing out summer swag on the streets.

Living in Phoenix, I can totally appreciate how terrible summer can be and how a fun or useful item can break up the sweaty grossness. Print up some fun flyers or postcards, find a good spot and hand them out along with something these overheated pedestrians will appreciate, like popsicles or sunglasses.

Get some stuff with your logo on it. Bonus points if you can tie the item to your business. Most important, make sure the flyer drives them to a unique landing page so you can track results and place them into the right follow-up campaign.

Weather – Timeliness can be a huge booster when it’s executed well and memorably (remember Oreo’s awesome response to the Super Bowl XLVII power outage?). Look, everyone does special sales and promotions to mark the typical holidays like July 4th or the back-to-school season. But how about creating a summer-long campaign tied to weather?

For instance, there is an Arizona restaurant chain that reduces the cost of certain items by the amount equivalent to the previous day’s high temperature (so a temp of 110 gets you $1.10 off). Of course, temperatures around the country won’t be as high as they are here, so the impact on the discount might not be enough. So why not consider an Instagram sweepstakes centered around vacation (or stay-cation) photos or a contest involving summer vacation horror stories. Maybe the winners get free tickets to a water park. Prep your campaigns with fun summer-related imagery, promote them on social media and see what happens.

Be Obviously Self-Aware – If you have products or services that typically just don’t sell over the summer for one reason or another, embrace them—and promote them with a sense of humor. Create a self-aware campaign that takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to selling your product or service, without shying away from the weirdness of it. The “Off-Season No-Summer Super Sale” could strike your customers as an offbeat opportunity to get great deals.

So there you have it, several ways to break out of that summer slump. Now get busy — and while you work on that, I’ll be thinking about a cool breeze and the smell of the ponderosa pine…man, I’ve got to get back to the stream!

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