Slow periods. Every business has them and they can cause real worry. But just because there’s a time when your customers are less likely to do business with you, that doesn’t mean you can’t promote your business.
In fact, promoting your business when things are slow can help you smooth out the peaks and troughs in your cash flow.
In this guide we’ll look at how to promote your business during a slow period, with the aim of giving you a boost during what can be a challenging time.
Have a sale
January is a classic slow period for all sorts of businesses – people have spent a huge amount of money before and during Christmas and are likely to be more frugal as the new year begins.
And of course January is also a classic period for sales.
These two facts are connected.
Lowering prices during a slow period is a tried and tested way of attracting more customers during slow periods.
And sales and special offers aren’t just limited to business selling products – restaurants and bars can offer two-for-one promotions, for example.
Even builders can get in on the act – few people are likely to want to have major work carried out on their house over the Christmas period, but how about an early-bird discount for anyone who books in a major job to start in January six months early?
If you’re a web designer, you could bundle in extra services – for example buy a new site and get six month’s support free.
There are two big things to remember when having a sale/special offer.
The first is to promote it so people know about it. The best ways to do this are through email marketing campaigns, which will help reach people who already know about your business, and through paid advertising, which will help you reach people who might not know about you.
To carry out email marketing, you’ll need a tool like Email Marketing from GoDaddy. This guide will help you get started with email marketing, while this guide will help you get started with paid online advertising.
The second thing you need to do is to ensure that you can keep in touch with people in the future to encourage them to become repeat customers.
This is easy if people are purchasing something from you online (just make sure they consent to receive marketing material from you).
If you’re running a special offer in a real-world business you can use a physical coupon which someone has to fill in with their details (again, make sure they agree to you sending them marketing material).
When you’ve got people’s details and consent, you can add them to your marketing list and if you’ve impressed, they may well become a repeat customer.
Offer a discount for early payment
Smoothing out your cash flow over the course of the year is a good way to stop slow periods biting as much as they might.
So if you’re running, for example, an outdoor activity business that closes down for the winter, you could offer a discount to encourage people to book early for next summer.
That way, the cash comes in even when you’re on your winter break.
Launch a competition
Giving people a chance to win something is a great way to build up your marketing list (as always, make sure people opt in to hearing from you.)
You can send anyone who doesn’t win the big prize a special offer or discount to encourage them to buy from you during your slow period.
And of course you can send them your regular marketing emails.
Launch a complementary product or service
If you’re running an online store that specializes in Halloween costumes, it’s unlike that anyone is going to be convinced to buy from you at Christmas even if you offer a huge discount.
But what if you started offering Christmas-related fancy dress? Or even fancy dress for stag parties and hen dos?
If you’ve got a business with a physical premise that’s seasonal, such as a beachfront café, you could consider turning the place into a “Christmas grotto” for a few weeks in winter.
Or if you’re a gardener, how about offering a snow-clearing service? Or supplying firewood? Or offering a winter maintenance service cleaning up leaves and cleaning gutters?
Finding a complementary product or service to offer is a great way of growing the year-round potential of your business.
Web designers might want to look at learning search engine optimization (SEO), or other digital marketing techniques where a monthly fee can be charged.
Evaluate how you market your business
A slow period is a good time to look at your overall marketing efforts, and doing so can help you bring in more customers during slow times and peak times.
Things to consider include:
SEO – Are you missing out on any keywords you could be targeting? This guide will help you improve your general SEO, and you can also use Search Engine Optimization from GoDaddy to help.
Local SEO – This is crucial if you’re running a business with a physical premises (such as a barber or a coffee shop) or a business that serves a specific local area (such as a builder or a plumber). At the very least, you should be on Google My Business. (Learn why Google My Business is important here.) You can find advice on getting started with local SEO here.
What your customers think of you – Customer surveys, feedback and reviews should be a part of your marketing mix. They let you find out what you’re doing well, what could be better, and if there’s anything else your customers want from your business. You can learn how to conduct surveys to gather feedback here, while this guide will tell you about collecting reviews. Who knows, you might find inspiration for a new product line or service?
Your future marketing plans – Slow periods are a good time develop a new marketing strategy for the year ahead. Learn about creating a marketing strategy here.
A slow period can present a challenge for any business but by tackling it head on you can develop ways to improve your business in both the short and long term.