Nearly all businesses experience the cyclical doldrums. For many, that's the end of January or February when the weather is bad and no one wants to go out. But regardless of when your slow time is, it's never a good time for the small business owner, no matter how predictable. Here are several ideas to increase sales during your traditionally slow times.
Host a customer appreciation event or open house. Market it heavily.
Offer a publicized giveaway or special purchase that is so good it will bring people in.
Use social media to create targeted ads to your ideal customers.
Offer a class at your location.
Revamp your website.
Concentrate on improving your SEO (search engine optimization). There are tons of tips on the internet on how to do this even if you're not an SEO expert.
Work on your Google My Business listing.
Experiment with using AdWords more heavily.
Partner with another business to provide referrals to one another.
Work with your chamber or Main Street Association to create an event that will bring foot traffic to your area.
Join your chamber of commerce and attend networking events, become a sponsor, or volunteer.
Contact organizations that your ideal customer is a member of.
Sponsor a local ball team or PTA.
Take out an ad in a sports, festival, play, or graduation program.
Get out of the office/business and talk to people. Hand out brochures, coupons, or business cards with samples.
Speak in front of a group about a topic you're an expert in.
Start a blog or, if you already have one, look for opportunities to guest blog on blogs that appeal to your ideal audience. Do the same for podcasts.
Reconnect with former clients and customers to see if their needs have changed. Offer them an incentive to come back.
Send a special customer appreciation email to your customers. Offer them something to make an additional purchase or to upgrade by a certain time .
Run a social media contest.
Start a newsletter.
Start an email nurturing campaign and reach out to customers periodically with something they could use.
Request reviews from past customers on popular review sites and publish excerpts on your website.
Poll customers to find out what they most want or need help with.
Consider a new product line or service. Do the research when it's slow.
Get to know your neighbor businesses and who their ideal customers are. If you know someone is in the market for something they offer, make the referral or introduction. Business Karma is a powerful thing and you have to give to get.
Connect with top employers in your area to find out how you may be of service to their employees. The company may give Christmas gift certificates and your business could get on that list or they may have a direct need for your business.
Think of the time of year that’s slowest and create an event or content around it. For instance, if spring break falls during your slow time think about how you might market to spring breakers. What do you have that might be appealing to people visiting or people going on spring break and leaving your area? Things like a spring break checklist or ads targeted at this group are very effective. Recognize a need and fill it.
Unveil something. Whether it's a secret recipe, a secret to success, or some other thing people would be interested in, making a big dramatic impression can get a lot of people talking about you.
Create a special one-day or flash sale that is only marketed over social media. Make it a bit of a secret entry idea (like the old speakeasies, but not illegal). That will give people reason to talk about it
Minimize the slow time in your business. While we all have them, there's no reason to simply wait for the customers to come back. Take an active approach with these ideas to evening out the highs and lows of your business. You’ll be more successful and less stressed.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses and chambers of commerce how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and WritersWeekly. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com.
Christina is an introverted writer on a quest to eradicate boring copy and bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.