While growing up, the start of summer was announced by the ice cream truck cruising down my street playing “It’s a small world after all.” While my friends and I rejoiced, and our parents winced, we would race home towards their wallets to see if we could scrounge up enough change to buy a rocket or fudgicle. Sometimes we would find the change and sometimes we wouldn’t. That would likewise mean sometimes the ice cream man would make a sale and sometimes he wouldn’t.
As a seasonal business you’re on a time constraint, which means you need to do everything you can to maximize sales in a short period of time. Fortunately for you, and the ice cream man of old, times have changed. By accepting mobile payments, using social media and doing email marketing, you can make this summer your most profitable yet. We’re going to show you how you can maximize your efforts and increase sales this summer in these three areas.
You want customers to have you in mind well before the season starts; your seasonal business should be keeping its social media profiles up to date, all year round. However, if you haven’t, there is no need to worry, there’s still time to see benefits.
The great thing about Social Media is that it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, you can benefit from using it. It gives you a chance to engage and build relationships with your audience. Use Social Media to ask your customers questions, offer valuable advice and quickly respond to concerns or feedback. As you do this you are building your reputation as a company that truly listens and values their customers. This type of good reputation gains you valuable exposure.
Facebook is a social media outlet that people rely on for customer service, ratings and reviews, and a great outlet to use for exposure. If you’ve provided exceptional customer service to a customer, encourage them to share their experience on their social networks, especially Facebook. The trick is to know exactly how to leverage each network to your advantage.
While Facebook is great for engagement through conversation and customer service, Pinterest engages people in a different way; through images. Your customers use it for finding new ideas through photos and images. It too is an important network to utilize as it not only can increase your brand awareness but also your website traffic, like it did for Jetsetter.
Jetsetter, an online travel site increased traffic to their website 151% by utilizing Pinterest. “Pinterest is the perfect platform for Jetsetter’s photo-driven content,” said Jonathan Goldmann, social media manager at Jetsetter.
Jonathan then went on to explain”While Jetsetter focuses on inspiring vacation ideas and providing insider deals for the immediate future, Pinterest helps users store and organize inspiration for an aspirational trip…”
So how can your seasonal business do this with Pinterest? Well, let’s pretend you own a seasonal landscaping company that specializes in creating all sorts of beautiful gardens. Your goal on Pinterest is to gain as much exposure as possible right? In order to do this you should have a multitude of different boards showcasing your work, garden layouts, DIY projects, harvest recipes, gardens from around the world and more. Anything that relates to gardens in any way, you should have.
Take a look at this fantastic example pulled from Pinterest by a gardening company.
Facebook and Pinterest are just two examples of social media. There’s also LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ that you could consider using as well. And remember, never underestimate the powerful influence social media plays in winning you customers and keeping existing ones.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a business that provides a service right at a customer’s home or you’re in a brick and mortar store, both can benefit from accepting mobile payments.
At A Customer’s Home
Just think about the poor ice cream man in the ice cream truck. If he had accepted mobile payments chances are he would’ve made a sale. Granted that was in 1992 so we can cut him some slack. Today though, there are so many awesome ways to take payments, mobile being one of them.
There is a huge convenience factor that is associated with accepting mobile payments. The notion that everyone has cash on them or wants to pay solely by cash is archaic. According to Canadian Business, only about 40% of Canadian transactions is through cash.
If you’re a seasonal business such as a landscaper, gutter cleaner, painter, etc, don’t force your customer to pay by cash or cheque, offer them the ability to pay however they want. When you force a customer to pay how you want them to it causes friction which makes it much harder to convert them into a repeat customer.
It’s hard to maintain loyal customers and any business owner can attest to that. But, by doing little things, such as accepting mobile payments so they can pay how they want, gives you an edge over the competition and creates a lasting impression.
Brick and Mortar
Stores such as ice cream shops thrive in the summertime. There’s an ice cream joint right by my apartment and people pack inside that place like sardines during the summer. Its been so busy before that it actually gets hotter inside than out. First those customers have to wait in a line to pick their ice cream flavour, then they have to wait in another hot and sweaty line to pay.
Brick and mortar stores can help their customers out by offering those standing in line the ability to pay by mobile; transforming the experience back into the delightful one it should be.
Nordstrom and Sephora are two forward thinking businesses that have started using mobile payments year round and are seeing unparalleled growth. Implementing mobile payments into your seasonal business can mean growth for you too.
During the off season, many businesses like to keep in touch with their customers, not only through social media but also through email. This builds a relationship with your customers and reminds them that you’re ready for the coming season. If you haven’t been emailing your customers yet, start now.
Let them know of the upcoming season the promotions you’re running, if you’re offering them. Don’t wait for them to come to you, be proactive. It’s a great way to encourage your customers return, which every business wants.
Studies have shown it costs significantly less to retain old customers than to try and acquire new ones. Just take a look at these statistics from Bain and Company:
- It costs 6–7 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one
- A 5% reduction in the customer defection rate can increase profits by 5 – 95%
If you haven’t tried email marketing with your business before, that’s OK; it’s not too late to start building your list. There are some tricks you can use to speed up the process, one of which is through using lead magnets.
Lead magnets by definition are informational resources such as a simple how-to guide, a tip sheet, or even an eBook. Though not an information resource, you can also use discounts to encourage visitors to hand over their email address.
Because customers are constantly receiving junk to their email inbox, most have grown skeptical of anyone asking for their email. A lead magnet offers your customers something of substance which they’ll see as a fair trade-off for their email.
Check out this great example of a landscaping company that has put together a guide that will no doubt help to capture many email addresses.
We hope you can make 2015 your most profitable summer yet by applying at least one or all of the tips we mentioned above.
Your turn! As a seasonal business, what tips can you share that will help other businesses have a profitable summer.