Small Business: promotions to keep sales hot

Summer is a more laid-back time and marketers

Summer is a more laid-back time and marketers should have fun with it, says Jack Mandel, an East Norwich-based marketing consultant and a marketing professor at Nassau Community College in Garden City. (Credit: Handout)

Jamie Herzlich

Newsday columnist Jamie Herzlich Jamie Herzlich

Herzlich writes the Small Business column in Newsday.

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For some companies business heats up in the summer. But for many it slows to a crawl.

If your business is in the latter category, summer is prime time to get creative and use special marketing strategies to get customers in the door.

"It's a time for marketers to lighten up and work smarter to entice customers to come back or see what they have to offer," says Jack Mandel, an East Norwich-based marketing consultant and a marketing professor at Nassau Community College in Garden City.

It's a more laid-back time and marketers should have fun with it, says Mandel.

When crafting your promotion, think about it in terms of a triple "C" triangle, he notes. The first C is the concept (what the promotion will focus on and what you want the result to be); the second C is creativity (how you'll make the promotion enticing); and the third C is communication (how you'll tell customers about the promotion).

An example could be a summer sunshine sale at a restaurant, where if the sun's out and a patron comes in for a drink or dinner, he gets a percentage off his purchase. Or offer patrons complimentary lemonade and cookies to come in and cool off on a hot day. Or tie a promotion or event to a particular holiday, suggests Mandel.

Holidayhappenings: Waters Crest Winery in Cutchogue is doing that with a "BBQ Bootcamp for Dad" this Saturday, tied to Father's Day weekend. Attendees will learn barbecue insider secrets and techniques and taste some grilled samples, says owner Jim Waters. The winery has multiple summer events planned, says Waters. "We try to come up with different ideas and concepts that are a little unique."

Be as creative as possible, says Kevin Kelly, chief creative officer of BigBuzz Marketing Group, a Melville-based digital advertising agency. Consider using mobile, social media and location-based marketing tactics. For instance, you can create a scavenger hunt on the Foursquare app, where patrons would have to check in at certain locations to reap some sort of prize, he notes.

BigBuzz has a mobile marketing campaign called Spot the Leaf, where Kelly has a QR code sticker on the back of his Nissan Leaf, and if people spot it and scan the QR code with their mobile devices, BigBuzz will send them its branded merchandise.

"It's spring/summer focused," he notes.

Str8 Smiles Orthodontics in Plainview will use social media for its summer promotion, says owner Dr. Michael Goldman. Patients can download a caricature photo of Goldman and then earn points toward winning an iPad mini by taking photos with his image at their various summer destinations and posting them on the Str8 Smiles Facebook page. For instance, a pool party picture could earn 30 points.

Change it up:"We usually do a summer promotion," he notes. "I like to change it up each year."

You can use your Facebook page to drive customers to summer events or highlight summer promotions, notes Kim T. Gordon, president of National Marketing Federation Inc. in Sugarloaf Key, Fla., and author of "Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars" (Kaplan Publishing; $18.95).

Use email, your website and social marketing in combination for your marketing efforts, she suggests. You don't necessarily have to email coupons or discounts; she suggests sending informative seasonal tips. For instance, if you're a vet, you might email your audience tips on keeping their pets from getting too hot, says Gordon. "Add a bit of fun and a twist."