The make- or break- winter holiday sales season is behind us. Spring is slowly, but surely coming. For Hampton Roads small businesses, as across the country, Valentine’s Day and Easter rank top for spring holiday promotions. However, there are many other spring and summer opportunities for small businesses to seize upon and thrive.

Focus on events and activities that cause consumers to behave differently. For instance, what do consumers want to do most when the weather starts turning warm? They want to be outside, whether its walking through neighborhoods and down city sidewalks while browsing through shops; or dining outside while playing games or listening to a favorite local band. Nationally promoted holidays take front burner. Yet, there are many less obvious national days that can tie into your customers’ warm weather wants and needs.

First, research the National Day Calendar database. It is an exceptional resource for every nationally recognized holiday. Find the holidays that best align with your business. This list may seem overwhelming, so you’ll want to hone in on holidays that will drive customer traffic to your particular location. Look at the demographics. What is your customer age group? What are their hobbies? What neighborhood do they live in, etc? Then create your own strategically targeted holiday list.

One example is Earth Day, April 22. This holiday may seem more suited to a garden shop than an apparel boutique. However, creative opportunities are there for apparel retailers like highlighting earth-tone outfits and casual outdoors attire. And if you sell clothes that are made from environmentally favorable fabrics, market them heavily, perhaps discounting these brands. Another “for instance” comes from a popular furniture retailer which has promoted Earth Day in the past by sending out a photo of a potted plant section in one of its stores with the message “Happy #Earth Day! Check out 4 easy potted plants to bring some #nature into your home.”

Mother’s Day, a massive retail holiday featuring sales and promotions across the board, is coming May 13. One way to not only promote the holiday, but honor it, is to showcase mothers of your staff (with their permission, of course) on your social media platforms. Feature them with a photo and nice comments by their loved ones ( – 3/27/18). As examples, this idea can work equally well for an auto repair firm and a gift shop.

Spring weather is unpredictable and highly variable. In our own region, we are experiencing 80-degree sunny days as well as temperatures that drop overnight to rainy winter weather. Businesses should be ready to offer discounts according to the temperature. Chilly indoor days are a great time to discount hot drinks, soups, and if you operate a service business with a customer waiting room, pass out the hot coffee and tea for free.

Once summer arrives full-time, think sidewalk sales and events that draw customers into your location; outdoor seating; and iced water offered on sweltering days when your patrons seek relief inside your business. Of course, July 4 is the major mid-summer holiday that the majority of Americans celebrate and there are a multitude of sales ideas for this event on the internet. To extend the holiday or market around it, research similar national holidays in other countries.

For instance, in Norfolk, a highly successful Bastille Day, or French national day event is organized by the French community and its international organizations. It takes place in the Ghent business district and celebrates with a festive French atmosphere. French food is abundant. Entertainment is lively including can-can dancers and the Tour de Ghent street art displays. A replica of the Eiffel Tower is dominant. Local businesses participate full force and create their own French themes on the day to enhance the festivities. The annual Bastille Day in Ghent draws customers and participants from all over the city and Hampton Roads.

Running social media contests around seasonal holidays is always a great way to engage current customers and attract new ones. As spring and summer evolve, small businesses are heading into seasons with endless marketing opportunities. The key to success is to glean sales data and find out what sold well the year before, then match the sales trends to fresh ideas that will build on past success. It’s time to “spring clean,” throw out the old, freshen up and start anew!