Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball

Don't let the summer slump get you down

April 18, 2022 Julie Ball Episode 122
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
Don't let the summer slump get you down
Show Notes Transcript

#122 - Summer Slumps (ie seasonality) often affect product businesses and can really hurt the bottom line. But if you plan ahead, you can combat them!

In this week's episode of Subscription Box Basics, Julie will share 5 tips on how to prepare for the Summer Slump. So grab your pen and paper and list down these helpful tips!


SUMMARY:

  • Decrease your inventory in advance (2:35)
  • Plan for cash injections (4:02)
  • Offer incentives for multi-month subscription (7:05)
  • Go to other in-person events (8:18)
  • Ramp up your marketing channels (9:25)


LINKS AND RESOURCES

Julie (00:01):

So you wanna launch a subscription box and don't know where to start. Girl, you are in the right place. I'm Julie Ball, a subscription box coach, and your host here at subscription box basics, a podcast for new and aspiring subscription box entrepreneurs that want to avoid overwhelm, grab a coffee, some pen and paper, and let's have some fun.

Julie (00:23):

Hey everybody. Welcome back to subscription box basics. I'm Julie Paul, your host here, and your subscription box business coach. Today, I'm gonna do a rapid fire session given you five ways to prepare for seasonality. Why are we talking about this? Because it is Q2 and the summer slump is coming it's around the corner. Not everyone's gonna experience a summer slump, but it is something that happens in our business and we prepare for it. So that's why I'm thinking about it right now. So I wanna share with you five tips on how to prepare for that summer slump. So let's first talk about like, why do some businesses have the summer slump, think about who your business serves and there's gonna be some seasonality in it. For example, if you sell winter jackets, you're probably gonna sell a lot more in Q4 and Q1 than you are in Q2 or Q3, because there's just gonna be a lot more people who have the need for that particular product, a winter jacket.

Julie (01:25):

So in the summer, you can imagine the seasonality is going to impact your bottom line by a lot. So there's gotta be ways that you can prepare in advance. So for me at sparkle hustle grow, we experience the summer slump primarily between may and August. And for us, we believe that's because as female entrepreneurs that's who our, my subscription box serves female entrepreneurs. A lot of us are taking the summers off or scaling back in the summertime because of a lot of reasons. One, maybe we are, uh, doing some travel. Our kids will be outta school and maybe we're, you know, going on a trip to visit some family or maybe some of my discretionary income has to be shifted to summer camps. Uh, there's a whole lot of different reasons. And honestly, guys right now, this, um, economic environment we're in right now, it feels like there's just a lot less discretionary income in many different segments of the population.

Julie (02:19):

And so you may be experiencing some of this slump already in advanced of the summer. So first of all, one of the things that you can proactively do is just know about it, prepare for it and decrease your inventory in advance. So when you look at your year, you probably want to purchase your inventory with the idea of positive growth, right? But it, if, you know, in advance that there's potential for negative growth or even like flat growth, then you can scale back your inventory so that you're not stuck with a whole bunch of excess inventory. We proactively do that. We have looked at, you know, month over month and season over season over the last few years. And we can kind of get a good feel for, okay, how much should we scale back? And by that, um, it's just felt stressful. A lot of people will continue to try and scale during the summer and some will have success.

Julie (03:13):

And I love that. That's great, but for me, I don't want that extra stress. I don't want that extra in the sitting there, you know, just stagnating my cashflow either. So what we do is we scale back how many products that we're gonna buy so that we have fewer products to sell. And you know, what, if we sell out great, we'll start a wait list. And we can use that in our marketing to create the scarcity effect. And that's great because that make people sign up for our email list. That'll help people decide if they wanna sign up right away so they don't miss out. And so the first tip is to really think in advance. Like, do you want to continue to try and scale during the summer? Or do you wanna intentionally buy less inventory to sell so that you are not stuck with extras?

Julie (04:01):

Number two, try and be proactive in planning for cash injections. In other ways, maybe you will sell fewer subscriptions, but how else can you have a cash injection? Here's a couple ideas. So maybe you have a summer clearance sale and offload excess infant to that would be a cash injection and treat it like a real launch. Not just like the day before, say, oh, Hey guys, by the way, we're gonna share a coupon code tomorrow, plan it out, have a launch runway, just like you had a launch runway for when you actually launched your subscription box. Try to think about how you can generate interest and excitement around other are sales events for product that you might already have. What about hosting a virtual event? Do you have an audience that would thrive or be in interested in having some sort of virtual event charge an admission fee?

Julie (04:55):

Maybe it's a virtual retreat. Maybe it's a, you know, three series zoom call, maybe it's something else whatever's right for your audience. Think about how you might be able to have some sort of cash injection. Oh, Hey, maybe it's even an in-person retreat. Not granted that takes more time to plan out, but, and it doesn't have to be like this massive in-person retreat. Maybe it's kept for 10 people, or maybe it's kept for 30 people and case. Try to think about what can you do to have a cash injection? And I'll give you one more example of that. At sparkle hustle grow, we are creating a summer book club. We realize that some of our subscribers will either skip or cancel in the summer, but we're gonna offer them a three month summer book club with lighter are reads and smaller and a lower cost.

Julie (05:45):

Basically this will be a three month club every month. They will get a lighter book read in the mail and we'll have a private Facebook group for, you know, our virtual book club we'll have prizes. We'll have all kinds of other fun things in there, but it's gonna be a lower price point and it's gonna be one fee for the whole summer. So you can imagine that cash injection will be at the beginning of the summer and will help buffer some of that gap that we anticipate in our revenue numbers. And so you can go check out S hustle, grow.com/summer. We are launching it on April 20th. And granted, you may be listening to this episode in advance of it, but we can give you that little sneak peek in first DS, if you wanna go check it out. So is there anything like this that you can do for your business that is temporary?

Julie (06:35):

For example, with the summer or book club, we're gonna have a popup Facebook group just for June, July, and August. We're gonna have all kinds of community of activities in there, again, giving away prizes and it's gonna be so much fun, but think about what can you do for your audience? Would this be something they resonate with? Can you have some sort of summer sale? Do you wanna host a virtual event or an in-person or maybe something different like the summer book club? Okay. Let's get back to other ways that you can prepare for the summer slump. Number three, how can you maybe encourage longer term subscriptions like multi month subscriptions versus month to month? The majority of our subscribers are on month to month. Makes it easy. It's no commitment. It's an easy, yes. Right? But is there a way for you to have an incentive for them to do a three month subscription in may, for example, that would get them through June, July, and August.

Julie (07:30):

There's your summer. Maybe you have an incentive for a six month or a 12 month subscription. Some ideas of those incentives might be, of course you can do a discount on longer term subscriptions. If they commit in advance, you could do a gift with purchase. You could have some sort of, um, virtual incentive. If you're going to be hosting a virtual event, maybe they get free admission to that virtual event if they subscribe for three months or longer. So think about what are some things that you, you can do that aren't gonna be like super hard for you to actually implement or fulfill. And how can you apply those to multi month subscriptions? So you can get your subscribers to commit throughout the summer. Number four, go to other people's events. This is a great way to only get in front of your target audience and to grow your email list, but also to offload excess inventory.

Julie (08:27):

Think about anything that you have, is it past boxes, extra items from past boxes. Can you take that stuff to someone else's event that has your ideal target audience and not only get that cashflow moving by selling that product, but also while you're there, you get to talk about your business. You get that visibility in front of your ideal target audience and use something like a QR code that links to a giveaway form or a QR code that links to an email list. And you can be proactively growing your email list while you're at that event. So think about right now or after this episode is over go Google or, you know, start doing some research about an event that you can do maybe one every month during the summer months find an event in June, July, and August that you can physically show up at to get that cash flow moving by selling excess inventory and growing your email list and getting visibility and number five ramp up a new marketing channel now is a great time to start thinking about, okay, what other marketing channels can we use to grow the business?

Julie (09:35):

The so often, you know, myself included, we've learned the hard way about pouring all of your money into one marketing channel. For me last year, it was Facebook ads. They were working well up until, you know, the iOS changes. They were working really well for us. And so we were using that as our primary marketing channel. And that's fine to have a primary marketing channel, but don't put all your eggs than one basket. So what other marketing channel channels have you been thinking about using this is a good time to give him a try. I always like to give any new marketing channel at least 90 days, three months to give it a go like nothing works overnight, right? So give it 36, the 90 days to really pour into it and give it a chance. So maybe that means Google ads. Maybe that means starting an affiliate program or working with influencers.

Julie (10:28):

Maybe you want to launch on Pinterest or working work on your SEO. Those things are not meant to be overnight to excesses. If you start now with your strategy, you can see some of the fruits of your labor come this summer. Okay. Let's recap those five things that you can do to prepare in advance for any moments of seasonality. So number one, decrease your inventory in advance, like cap your growth on purpose. Number two, plan for injections with special events with sales events, virtual events, like our summer book club. What can you do to have that cash injection? When your subscriber revenue might be down number three, offer incentives for multi month subscriptions, whether that's a discount gift with purchase or other incentive, get them to for longer periods of time. Number four, go to in-person events to get visibility, grow your email list and offload access inventory, make some sales and number five, try ramping up a new to you marketing channel.

Julie (11:35):

I'd love to hear which of these five that you're gonna try advance of your summer slump or in advance of other seasonal slumps that you might have in your business. You can DM me anytime at subscription box bootcamp on Instagram. I'd love to hear, I love to talk shop. So make sure you reach out this rapid fire episode was just intended to give you some quick ideas that you can take action on and consider this your personal invitation to join the sparkle hustle, grow summer book club. Again, that link is in the show notes, but you can check it out at sparklehustlegrow.com/summer. If this has been helpful, please subscribe, rate, and review, and also share with other aspiring subscription box business owners. You know, and I know that it's scary and overwhelming when you have this new box idea and you just don't know where to start, and I'd love for you to share this podcast with them. So thanks in advance. I appreciate you always tuning in and I'll see in the next episode,