While it’s tempting to scramble for sales this summer, my advice is to keep your eyes on that Q4 prize. 

Yes, you do have to make money this summer. But in terms of marketing, investment, and planning, most of your activities today will start paying off in September. So let’s get straight into gearing up for life post-Labor Day.

Estimate economic impact on your customers. No matter when I write this, it’s impossible to predict how the economy will change over the next few months. But, you probably have a sense of how impacted your customer is, and for how long they expect it to last. If you expect Q4 to be smaller than last year, choose a percentage — 25%, 50%, 75% — and plan against that. If you’re not sure, the University of Michigan measures consumer sentiment monthly across a range of categories. Or, go right to the source and talk to your customers. 

Make one push for cash now. Sales are a 1-to-1 effort with people you already know. Make one concerted summer sales push. This might include a one-time offer, a warehouse sale, or an Amazon Day-style one-day event. Use this event to accelerate your progress on the areas below. 

Develop your email list. The number one thing you can do right now is develop your owned email list. Email remains the most cost-effective, top converting marketing method across age groups. If you already have a healthy list, consider sending a targeted email that helps you segment your existing list. 

Support early shoppers. Remember when August was back to school and lay-a-way? That was my family, drawing names for holiday gifts in July. When money and credit are tight, families spread out their holiday shopping over a few months. Don’t be afraid to reward the planners. Consider a September bundled offer or promotion. 

Consider a multi-payment plug-in. You don’t have to be a huge company to implement Klarna, Affirm, or the multi-payment offerings from your payment processor. You get paid up front and your customer pays over time. (It’s the e-commerce version of lay-a-way.) Most providers have plug-and-play integration with Shopify and WooCommerce. PayPal is natively integrated with eBay but has expanded as a payment option to more processors.

Figure out new sales channels. I would also experiment with what works for you on social. Figure out how Instagram shopping works and who uses it. Get those TikToks going for gifts the kids want. And for goodness sake, figure out how to take digital payments, even if you have a physical space. Paypal has a set of tools called Sell On Social that converts images in your email and on social directly into sales, without a storefront. 

Develop your offerings. If you sell to businesses, you’ll want to be ready to support their 2023 budgeting process and also absorb any extra budget they need to spend by fiscal deadlines. Organize your Q4 packages now. Feel out where people are on budgets and just how late into Q3 or even Q4 they will actually take action. Offer a small early commitment discount or value-add offer before September 15. Be proactive in helping them plan for what will be condensed and likely contentious 2023 budgeting cycles. 

I know, we jumped from the end of winter right into mid-summer. But planning for the fall in July will give you a head start on making your holidays merry and bright.