The school summer holidays are in full swing, and many families are on trips abroad. For small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), maintaining their sales can present a challenge. This can be especially true in those in Business-to-Business (B2B).
However, with the right strategies and approaches, SMEs can adapt, innovate and even increase sales during this period.
This article will offer actionable advice as well as technical and financial insights to empower B2B SMEs to thrive amidst seasonal shifts.
The impact of school summer holidays on sales
The school summer holidays significantly impact the sales landscape for many SMEs. Understanding the patterns and challenges associated with this period is crucial for devising practical strategies.
Research from sales engagement platform Sopro shows that two-thirds of B2B businesses experience a sales slump over the summer. July and August are the worst affected months. Of those surveyed, 75% reported a drop in sales of 20% and one in five claimed dips of 40% or more.
Managing cash flow during seasonal sales slumps can be tricky. For some, a sales slump may only occur for a short period of time. For others, it can persist into the autumn if action isn't taken.
We'll look at some of the techniques businesses can adopt to help mitigate seasonal sales dips over the summertime.
Keep reading to learn how to beat a sales slump.
Marketing & promotional tactics
Identifying key holidays and events during the summer holidays presents opportunities for targeted marketing promotions. Creating themed campaigns and offering exclusive deals can attract customers' attention and drive sales.
If your sales have stagnated and your financial health could be better, it could be time to launch a summer sale. Fewer companies in the B2B world have sales, so you may gain a competitive edge by launching one yourself.
The beginning of summer is also a good time to start preparing an autumn marketing plan. Once families are back to their usual routines in September, many people are back at their desks. And that could mean more clicks on your website and more opportunities to gain new leads.
Engaging target audiences
Understanding customer behaviour and preferences during the summer holidays is essential for effective marketing. This is why it is important to include seasonal trends as part of an effective marketing strategy.
For example, traffic via web browsers on computers tends to decrease in the summer because people are away on holiday.
However, the dip in traffic from mobile devices – particularly for social media platforms – is nowhere near as pronounced. Perhaps not surprisingly, since smartphone penetration is now around 93% in the UK.
Businesses should use data analytics to target summer marketing efforts to people likely to be interested in their products or services. This could include targeting people who have visited their website in the past, who have liked their social media pages, or who have opted in to receive email marketing.
SMEs could consider hiring an agency partner. This way, you can execute successful marketing campaigns in a timely manner, which can boost sales quite considerably.
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Leveraging technology & e-commerce
Small businesses can use technology to handle changes in demand and reduce the number of employees they need. For example, online chatbots are a great way to provide customer support 24/7. They can help an organisation to answer customer questions, resolve technical issues and upsell or cross-sell products or services.
Summer can also be a good time for businesses to optimize their website for mobile. This can be a good way to entice customers to access your site from abroad.
It may also be the right time to improve operational efficiencies, which can help raise profits even when sales are slow. Using new technology, like replacing Excel with interactive software, can optimize resources and promote collaboration in small businesses.
When many people are on holiday, it can be hard to schedule a meeting with clients. Dates are discussed and changed before agreeing on one. Businesses should use a calendar app like You Can Book Me or Doodle to make booking easier and save time.
Collaborations & partnerships
By joining forces and engaging in cross-promotions with other companies, it's often possible to tap into new customer bases. This is especially helpful if you're targeting a niche market.
For example, you could partner with similar small businesses that get busy during the summer. You could then work together to create different types of marketing campaigns, such as joint content marketing campaigns. This would give you access to their customers and help you reach a wider audience.
Collaboration is a good way to save money and improve efficiencies. It also allows sharing of ideas and expertise with other companies facing a similar summertime slump.
Flexible financing options
Exploring flexible financing options can provide SMEs with the necessary resources to bridge seasonal gaps before cash flow problems emerge.
Short-term funding solutions can offer flexibility and support during the summer holidays.
One option is asset-based lending, especially for businesses with poor credit histories who have difficulty obtaining traditional financing. Asset-based lenders typically lend a percentage of the value of the business's assets. This can help provide the necessary working capital they need to bridge seasonal gaps.
As an alternative, a short-term business loan could also assist with cash flow issues.
About the author
Chris Price has been a freelance technology journalist since the 1990s. In addition to editing two consumer tech blogs, TechDigest.tv and ShinyShiny.tv, he also regularly contributes tech/business articles to various publications, including The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, Tech Radar, IFSEC Global and AI Business. A passionate outdoor swimmer, Chris is also a qualified lifeguard.
Strategies for cash flow management
Decreased sales mean there is less revenue coming into the business, which is likely to lead to diminishing cash flow throughout the summer. Additionally, costs can go up if you need to hire temporary workers to fill in for employees on holiday leave.
To mitigate any problems, proactive cash flow management is crucial during the summer holidays. Keeping an up-to-date cash flow statement that notes cash inflows and cash outflows is essential.
By implementing strategies such as expense reduction, payment term negotiations, and cash flow forecasting, SMEs can navigate the challenges more effectively and avoid potential problems.
Adapting to change
By embracing adaptable strategies and approaches, SMEs can thrive amidst seasonal shifts during the school summer holidays.
Leveraging technology, collaborations, and targeted marketing can all have a positive impact on a business's bottom line. Combined with effective cash flow management and flexible financing, SMEs can achieve sales success.
With the right tools and mindset, SMEs can seize opportunities, innovate and pave the way for long-term growth.