There are two months left of winter, and many small businesses are consumed with the challenge of getting their customers to leave their homes in this cold weather. What they might be overlooking, is what will come when the spring hits on March 20th. Will your small business be ready for the change in seasons? Spring is a great time for small businesses. The weather, blooming flowers, and brighter skies encourage customers to venture out of their homes and onto the streets. Farmer's markets, art fairs, and outdoor seating at restaurants breathe new life into their communities, driving up small business sales activity. But if your business is solely focused on surviving the winter, you'll struggle to reap the benefits of the spring quarter, which historically has the highest gross domestic product (GDP) of the year.
Without losing your focus on the current season, here are 9 things you should be preparing for the spring:
1. Spring-themed products or services
Whether running a construction business, graphic design shop, or retail store, you should be able to cater some parts of your business to the spring. Combine several of your construction services to create a spring-cleaning package. Start offering spring-themed graphics or templates that your clients can use in their own businesses. Bring in floral or brightly colored items to your shop. There's a lot you can do to tell your customers that you're just as ready for the spring as they are.
Help your customers celebrate the season by offering promotions on your products or services. Discounted prices (or better, discounted prices when they buy multiple products from you) will entice customers into your stores or onto your websites, where they're likely to find additional full-price offerings they want. Customers will be excited to get their hands on more from your company, and the positive experience is likely to keep them coming back throughout the year.
3. Events that you plan to be part of
Most communities host events throughout the spring. These may range from a typical farmers market to a high school sporting tournament. Keep an eye out for events taking place in your community and ways that you can participate. For most non-profit events (like races or sports events), there are low-level sponsorship opportunities that help put your brand in front of hundreds of local consumers. Other events could be an opportunity for you to directly boost your sales, like exhibitions or markets. Make sure you're watching local listings and preparing your calendar for the spring.
4. Events that you plan to host
If you have the means, hosting an event for your community is a great way to gain the trust of your customers. Since "giving is good business", you may want to consider hosting an event that donates a portion of the proceeds to local charitable initiatives. Customers will be drawn to your products and services that they already love, and inclined to purchase more since they'll end up with a morale boost alongside your service. Aside from charitable events, you can also host book clubs, talks by local leaders, open mic nights, and more. Think critically about ways to bring your customers through the doors and keep them there for a few hours.
5. Spring marketing campaigns
Now that you have so many events, products, and promotions, you'll need to have a plan in place to let your community know. Take advantage of the bright, hopeful vibes of the season by creating campaigns that inspire. When planning your spring marketing campaigns, consider the amount of content you can create (blog posts, social media posts, photos, graphics, videos, etc.), how often you'll want to publish them, and where. You should think critically about how much you'll invest in printed materials, local publications, social media, and search marketing.
6. Co-marketing campaigns & partnerships
You don't have to tackle the season on your own. Other local small businesses are great resources for growing sales in your own company. You might be able to offer discounts and specials to consumers who shop locally by offering a "passport" system that each local establishment stamps or you could agree to promote your neighborhood as a whole since foot-traffic in your community is a great way to bring passersby into your store.
7. Your Customer Experience
It's worth considering the experience your customers have once they start interacting with your business. Is it easy for them to find what they need, see your best offerings, and pay? If not, consider rearranging. Whether you run a physical store or a website, your storefront or homepage should be clear, easy to understand, and easy to navigate. Looking to go above and beyond? Bring in some spring-themed imagery to greet your customers with some of that bright spring energy.
8. Quarterly RecordKeeping
Don't forget about spring cleaning! It's a good idea to enter a new season with clean records for your business. If you keep this in mind in the coming two months, the transition into a new phase of business will take less work. Record every transaction cleanly, and keep your books up to date.
While you're at it, keep clean records of key progress towards your goals. Whether you're actively working to improve your google ranks, number of blog posts, social media followings, sales, or otherwise, moving into the spring will be easier if you know the exact state of your business.
9. Stretch Goals
Every plan should be attached to a goal. Don't let your plans take you off course from your overall goals for the season or for the year. For each event, product, marketing campaign, and other activity, set a "stretch" goal that is ambitious but achievable. The goal will help you think critically about how the activity can be more effective for your business, and how it can be improved as you continue to fine-tune the details of each throughout the season.
And a bonus #10, which shouldn't actually be work: take a moment to smell the roses.
With all of the preparations in place, your small business will be set for success this spring. That means that you'll be able to step away for a moment from the stress and smell the roses. Enjoy!