Whether your business is bustling year-round or experiences periods of high and low sales, there may be times of the year when you have a predictable dip in both your number of customers and revenue.
These slower periods can be discouraging, but on the other hand, they can also be the perfect time for resourceful, creative and efficient brainstorming, as well as planning for the future of your business.
Use the strategies below to head into the off-season with purpose, and move into your busy sales season with a better and potentially more profitable business.
1. Revamp Your Marketing and Experiment
Now’s the time to experiment with bold, innovative marketing tactics that spark renewed interest, attention and excitement around your brand. First, start with your current marketing plan. Ask yourself: What is working and what isn’t? Use this as a jumping off point to decide what you’ll test out during your slow season.
For example it may be time to test Facebook Live or Instagram Live with testimonial videos — put yourself and your brand front and center.
You could also use this time to test new print marketing strategies. Whether your business focuses on a local market or nationwide, direct mail marketing, for example, can be a great way to reach your audience without fighting through the clutter that comes with online marketing.
If you’ve never sent direct mail before, check out this guide from MyCreativeShop to get started. You’ll find design and strategy ideas to help ensure your direct mail test is as effective as it can be.
2. Optimize Your Website for SEO
In the US, nearly 80 per cent of consumers use search engines to find the products or services they need, according to the Local Search Association. If your digital footprint is non-existent, meaning your website can’t be found, you’re losing opportunities for revenue.
The best way to get your website in front of customers online is to use search engine optimization (SEO), which ensures that search engines both see and rank your website for the terms your customers are searching for.
Use your slow-season downtime to make some of the following updates:
Make sure your website is optimized for mobile devices. Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see what changes you need to make.
Update your title tags and meta description for all the pages on your website and use keywords that reflect your business.
Update your business’ blog regularly with fresh content, images, and links to new blog posts.
Check that your business information (name, address, phone) are all consistent and correct on your own site, your Google My Business listing, and any other listing sites.
3. Partner with Established Organizations in the Community
During the slow season, use the time to partner with a local organization that’s helping your community. Not only can this help show potential customers you do more than sell products, but it can provide engaging marketing and social media content. You care about the community you live in and you’re willing to give a helping hand where you can.
Some options to look for include sponsoring an event, seminar, workshop, fundraiser or hosting a community clean-up day. Better yet, create your own events that allow you to show your expertise while getting involved with the community.
4. Work on Customer Service
The people who consume the products or services you offer are the lifeblood of your organization. That means a customer-oriented approach needs to be at the core of your business model.
During slow seasons, brainstorm ways you can upgrade the customer experience so all of your systems and processes are more interactive, effective, streamlined, and convenient.
5. Step up Your Leadership
At the helm of every successful business is a leader who motivates, empowers, inspires, and unifies their team. But having employees doesn’t automatically make you a leader, suggests Kevin Sealey, the VP of Operations at EPOCH Student Living.
In fact, he says, “A leader is someone who takes time to understand the team members — what are their strengths, areas of development, and where do they need support? Every person is different, and it is a leader’s responsibility to know how each member works separately, so when they are put together, you will create positive results.”
Use this time to understand your team members — what are their strengths, areas of development, and where do they need support. Get lunch with employees one-on-one, do employee reviews, solicit feedback, and have a company event. Work may slow down in the off-season for employees as well, so you can keep them engaged with these kinds of development opportunities.
While these activities should be happening throughout the year, you can schedule more HR-focused tasks during down times.
Make Your next Slow Season a Productive One
A slow sales period can be difficult to navigate, but it doesn’t have to be an unproductive period. These seasonal ebbs can help you evolve your business—you just have to be strategic with the extra time on your hands.
Use these ideas to make the most of your next slow season, boosting leadership, marketing, and your website all at the same time.
The original version of this post appeared on Wave’s small business blog.
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