How to plan for a successful summer sales event in 2021.

Husain Sumra profile image May 24, 2021 | 6 min read

When you plan for summer sales in advance, you will have a better opportunity to serve potential customers effectively. To make the most of summer sales, get ready with these steps.

  1. Assess seasonal opportunities and patterns in your business and industry.

Evaluate if summer is a good time for your business to host a sale. Traditionally, a company that sells snow skis, ice skates and other winter sporting goods may not want to host a sale during the summer, for example, and instead choose a time better suited for its customers and their needs, like a winter sale.

The key idea is to look for a way to align the sale with the season. For example, some companies offer back-to-school sales in August and September.  Aside from timing considerations, consider selecting older or out-of style inventory for emphasis in the summer sale. Such a promotion could be described as a last chance to get this summer’s products.

Also, you might decide to plan for summer sales to offset a summer slump. For example, if staff productivity and sales volume typically fall in the summer months, organizing a summer sale might help. Invite employees to suggest ways to combat low sales. As Forbes points out, “If you are seeing an ebb [in sales], brainstorm with your team on how the firm can demonstrate more value to get client sales back in line.”

Assuming you decide that a summer sales drive is suitable for your business circumstances, move on to the next step.

  1. Decide your summer sales timing and focus.

Start by considering your options to schedule the summer sale promotion. To inform your approach, consider some of the sales approaches other companies use. For example, Amazon is considering holding its Prime Day promotion in June 2021 and possibly at another date later in the year. Some companies schedule their summer sale to coincide with significant events like the Fourth of July.

In addition to dates, decide what products or services will be included in the promotion. To attract customers, you might use a loss leader promotion in your summer sale. By offering one or two products to be sold at or below cost, you can entice customers to pay attention to your sale. For example, grocery stores have traditionally used milk as a loss leader.  There is no need to offer a discount on every single product or service you offer.

It is also wise to keep an eye on emerging consumer trends. For example, some clothing retailers have reported an increase in “going out clothes” in 2021. As a result, marketing such clothing prominently may be an excellent way to appeal to consumers looking for a change as millions have already received COVID-19 vaccinations across the country as of April 2021.

Tip: Not sure what product or service to promote in your summer sale? There’s no reason to guess. Reach out to past customers with a phone survey and ask them about their favorite products.

  1. Develop your summer sale promotion options.

Now that you have decided on the dates and focus of the summer sale promotion, it is time to plan your promotion. Local public health conditions may require online-only sales, delivery and curbside pickup options, so keep this in mind as you create your plan.

Like any marketing plan, the specific strategies and tools a business chooses to use will vary. For example, your business might have an extensive email list and choose to focus your efforts on email marketing. Your summer sale promotion options and techniques may include:

  • Email Marketing. If your business has a significant email list, plan to use that marketing asset to promote your summer sale.
  • Social Media. In advance of the summer campaign, post details about the summer sale to your company’s website and social media accounts. For example, you can create a Facebook Event for your summer sale.
  • Paid Advertising. You may also want to use online advertising campaigns such as Facebook Ads or Google Ads. If you are new to this type of advertising, take some time to review the free training resources offered by Facebook and Google to learn the fundamentals before spending money on a campaign.
  • Phone sales campaign. Consider a targeted phone campaign to call on past customers, especially those in your loyalty program. In addition to telling them about the sale, a phone call to a past customer is an excellent opportunity to show your appreciation. 
  • Promotion with partners and organizations. If your company has existing relationships with organizations like a chamber of commerce, ask those organizations about ways you can promote your summer sale to members or start a referral group with non-competing businesses.
  1. Create your summer sale staffing plan.

For months, many retail stores have operated in different ways, like emphasizing delivery and curbside pickup. While offering those options is reasonable, an increasing number of consumers may feel ready to shop in person. In that case, it is essential to prepare, train and equip employees to work at a sales event. This training is especially important because there have been many jobs lost in the retail industry over the past year. As a result, newly hired employees may lack experience in how to successfully serve customers in a large summer sales event.

There are two steps you can take to adjust your staffing plan to meet the demands of a major summer sale. First, consider offering a short training session to guide employees on the summer sale, items on sale and how to respond to a higher level of customer demand. Second, consider scheduling more employees than usual to staff the summer sale. Communicate the schedules in advance because Harvard Business Review research suggests workers with stable schedules tend to be more productive.

Tip: Consider offering early access to your sale as a benefit of a customer loyalty program. For example, Nordstrom offered early access to cardholders in 2020 to appeal to loyal customers.

  1. Alert key retail vendors and suppliers of the summer sale.

As the summer sale event gets closer, make sure your key suppliers and vendors know about the event. The specific vendors and suppliers you need to contact will depend on your business situation. The following ideas can help you identify key stakeholders.

  • Product suppliers. Contact suppliers of your most popular products and let them know about your summer sale. If you buy larger quantities of products in advance, some suppliers may be willing to give you a better price.
  • Banks. Let your bank know about the sale in advance. Otherwise, the bank might be surprised by a sudden increase in transactions.
  • Staffing. Consider contacting a staffing company to arrange for temporary staffing if you anticipate employee shortages at the summer sale.
  • Security services. Managing large crowds during a sale can be challenging. That’s why some retailers seek out security services to maintain order during a sale.
  • Shipping services. If you offer delivery as an option, alert your shipping providers about the sale. Based on your research, you may need to manage customer expectations regarding how long it will take to ship orders.
  1. Measure your summer sale success and plan your next sale.

After running the summer sale, take a few minutes to celebrate the success with your employees. Afterward, schedule some time to hold a lessons learned session.

In project management, holding a lessons learned meeting at the end of a project is a proven technique to improve. Come up with a few questions to encourage discussion such as: 

What went right? What went wrong? How can we improve our next sales event? Since a summer sale is a project, it makes sense to use this project technique to improve. By coming up with these lessons learned shortly after the event, you will be better equipped to run your next sales event.

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