The summertime is usually a season for small businesses to reflect, recharge and revamp their corporate strategies. The reason for this is because summer is a slow period for a lot of startups and small businesses. Consumers are on vacation, businesses are also in a downtime and everything and everyone are just mellow. Perfect!
Let’s face it: after a little while, small businesses, can become complacent and content with the status quo. This unfortunate behavior can lead to long-term declines, customer dissatisfaction and the potential extinction of your brand. You were once the cutting edge small business, but now you’re soon entering the dustbins of market history.
Although the summer can be seen as a time to slow down your small business, it should actually be the opposite: invest in the company, update your skills, incorporate new strategies into your business model and look ahead to when the vacationing season is over and done with. In today’s economy, when both business and consumer sentiment are volatile, it’s important to keep on top of things in your business. With every slump comes an opportunity to conjure up a remedy.
If your business is in a downward spiral this summer then here are seven strategies to revamp your standard corporate strategy.
1. Launching a Content Marketing Campaign
Have you ever considered a content marketing campaign? This has become one of the biggest digital marketing trends in the last couple of years. Everything from articles to blog posts, webinars to infographics; this marketing technique can help boost your business. Moreover, if you want to boost sales during the slow July-August months then you can summer-ize your content marketing materials.
If your budget is small right now then here are five inexpensive content marketing tips:
- Use Twitter’s Periscope to hold tutorials or Q&A sessions with customers (more here).
- Compose listicles - articles that are lists - about facts or tips related to your industry.
- Write articles that have some sort of relation to pop culture (example: 5 Marketing Tips from Game of Thrones).
- Spend your free time writing an in-depth e-book or white paper (here are great tips).
- Show photos of your small business behind the scenes on Instagram (make sure they’re summertime photos).
Here is the greatest tip of all: don’t make your content marketing campaign seem forced. Remember, some of the most successful marketing initiatives have become popular organically.
2. Charitable Donations
Using charitable donations as a way to boost sales can make your brand appear philanthropic, dedicated to the community and interested in doing good. This is why you should have a promotion where whenever customers spend at least $50, your business will donate 15 percent to a cause, charity or disaster relief. You don’t have to throw it in everyone’s face that you’re donating to charity. Instead, you can have a sign at the register or front door that informs the customer of your intentions.
According to a 2013 Give as you Live survey, more than half of British consumers would purchase more from a store that is contributing a part of its proceeds to charity.
3. Taking Out a Merchant Cash Advance
Does the office furniture seem like it’s from the 1980s? Does your computer equipment still run on Windows 95 or 2003? Is the paint chipping away? Whatever the case, your small business may need something to freshen up its image or to rejuvenate staff members. Since you’re likely on a tight budget then perhaps you should consider a merchant cash advance.
A merchant cash advance gives capital to small business owners in exchange for future credit card sales. This has gradually become a popular alternative to small business loans from financial institutions. A few of the reasons include its ease of use, high approval rates and lower payback charges.
The alternative financing tool gained national attention when a couple of entrepreneurs appeared on Shark Tank in 2013 with the lending idea. The two men eventually gained a partnership with Kevin O’Leary.
4. Starting a Facebook Store
You shouldn’t put all of your eggs into one basket when it comes to launching a store on Facebook, or any social media outlet. With that out of the way, installing an active retail presence on the social networking giant is a great way to boost sales, generate an online reputation and even create in-store foot traffic. Since you could potentially be seen by hundreds of millions of Facebook users daily then this could be a cheap but effective endeavor.
Here are several tips if you’re considering establishing a Facebook store:
- First impressions matter: be sure the store is clean, easy to navigate and affordable.
- Take advantage of free or cheap digital resources and shop applications, like Shopify, ShopVisible and Storefront Social.
- Regularly promote the store, products and discounts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media venues.
- Utilize high-quality, high-definition images and videos (but refrain from using generic stock photos).
- Begin to use Facebook Insights and other data analytics applications, like StoreYa.
5. Create a Ranking System
This can be an overwhelming endeavor, but it’s a great way to boost profitability and it’s used by everyone, from accounting firms to vacuum cleaner salespersons. It can be accomplished by starting this procedure:
- Compile a list of your clients in alphabetical order.
- Find out which clients are the most profitable for you.
- Next to the profitability label, write down if they’re the most satisfied.
- Then identify them as a certain demographic or region.
- Finally, determine if they have a common need or desire.
A ranking system for small businesses can be the easiest market research around and it won’t cost you a penny. You can also save time by weeding out the good from the bad.
6. Become The Master of Your Industry
One of the best ways to maintain a steady stream of clients is to show off your industry acumen and insights. Back in the day, in order to achieve this, businesses and niche leaders had to hold in-person demonstrations. However, today you can simply head on over to Yahoo! Answers, sign in to a related forum or use any number of websites like Twitter, Reddit (ask me anything), LinkedIn (write an article) or comment on articles and add your two cents.
7. Don't Avoid It: Incorporate Sales Techniques
Finally, you may have decided that you wanted to refrain from being a stereotypical salesperson. You don’t want any of your team members to try and be pushy, annoying or creepy. Fortunately, sales techniques have dramatically changed from back in the day of those who would go door-to-door selling doors, or marmalade!
Unsure about using sales techniques in your business strategy? Here are a few tricks to use:
- Provide your customers with your full attention (act like they’re the only ones in the world).
- Create the sense that buying this product or service is urgent.
- Produce the feeling of obligations among your customers.
- Never rush or push a sale because this could prompt a customer to walk out the store.
- Always be dependable, reliable and responsible to clients: return phone calls, answer emails, provide customers with updates and so on.
In addition, it’s a good idea to retrain your staff in the realm of customer service. Since this has changed, it’s best to implement some of the new rules of dealing with customers, whether they’re irate or inquisitive.
Summer is slow, and businesses have to boost sales to keep the doors open. A small business has to try everything and anything it can to get bodies in the store or eyeballs on its website. What’s more important is that if businesses experience some sort of success with these measures then they should be done all year around and not just when business is slow. That’s the key lesson!
If you have a business, what do you do when sales are falling? Let us know in the comment section.