Whether your business is bustling year-round or experiences high- and low-sales seasons, there will be times during the year when you have a predictable drop in both your number of customers and revenue.
These slow periods can be discouraging, but on the other side, they can also be the perfect time for resourceful, creative, and efficient brainstorming, as well as planning for the future of your business.
These seasons of lull are hidden opportunities for growth if you maximize the time to assess and improve on your current business model or processes. Use the strategies below to head into the off-season with purpose and move into your busy sales season with a better and more profitable business.
Partner with established organizations in the community
If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, and want to increase the volume of foot traffic to your business, this is the perfect time to head outside and connect with the community. An estimated 82% of Americans take a brand’s social responsibility into account when choosing whether to make a purchase, according to the Forbes Human Resources Council.
During slow seasons, use this time to partner with a local organization that’s doing good in your local community. Not only does this give you marketing and social media fodder, but it helps you show potential customers that you’re here to do more than sell products. You care about the community you live in and you’re willing to give a helping hand where you can.
According to a 2017 survey from Cone Communications, 87% of consumers will purchase a product because a company advocated for a cause they cared about.
Use this opportunity to attract new clients and customers. Some options to look for include sponsoring an event, seminar, workshop or fundraiser or hosting your own community clean-up day. Better yet, create your own events or workshops that allow you to show your expertise while getting involved with the community.
Bowler Hat, a digital marketing agency, offers digital marketing workshops to local small businesses. Marcus Miller, SEO and digital marketing strategist for Bowler Hat tells Business News Daily:
“Sometimes this turns into business for us when there is someone we can help. Our entire focus is helping small businesses with their marketing, so we find if we do what we can to help, then the work we need comes to us.”
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.
FURTHER READING: Need some help building or refreshing your marketing strategy? Check out our Complete Guide to Small Business Marketing.
For example, if your testimonial videos typically get plenty of likes on Facebook, it may be time to test Facebook Live or Instagram Live—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, is ta great way to reach your audience directly 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 that ensure your direct mail test is as effective as it can be.
Optimize your website for SEO
Nearly 80% 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 Google both sees and ranks your website for the terms that 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 the right keywords.
- 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.
Need more help with search engine optimization? Use our guide to optimize your website and blog based on SEO best practices.
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 that “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 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 that should be happening throughout the year, you can schedule more HR-focused tasks during down times.
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 that you can upgrade the customer experience so all of your systems and processes are more interactive, effective, streamlined, and convenient.
For ideas to get you started, check out our article on how businesses can beat out competitors with great customer service.
This is one way to start driving more repeat business, according to data from Blackhawk Network, which says that 94% of individuals rank quality customer service as the main reason they choose to support a brand.
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 information and tips shared on this blog are meant to be used as learning and personal development tools as you launch, run and grow your business. While a good place to start, these articles should not take the place of personalized advice from professionals. As our lawyers would say: “All content on Wave’s blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.” Additionally, Wave is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and others cannot re-use or publish it without our written consent.