Bad news... There really is no way to avoid a future sales slump. Whether you run a seasonal lobster shack off the coast of Maine or a year-round surf & turf restaurant in Hawaii, you are bound to experience a short period when your bottom line fluctuates.
Sales slumps can happen because of new competition, off-season demand, or a slew of other simple problems, the thing to remember if you have to push forward. The best tool in your arsenal as a business is consistency. Stay focused on the long-term goals of your company and do your best to be proactive about any short-term slumps, and you will have a successful strategy.
In the meantime, here are a few tips and tricks to keeping your sales flow moving forward even during the worst of times.
Engage with Social Media
Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. It offers a direct line of communication to your customers in fun, engaging, and attractive visual posts. Keep the pedal pushed down on your social media marketing to ensure your viewership and follower base do not dip into dangerously low levels. Host a social media contest with a unique Hashtag. There are currently 3.78 billion social media users globally, which is about half of the entire population. That means there are bound to be people who will appreciate your business.
If you're a grooming business. Put on a promotion for funny pet photos with the tag #myfunnypet and watch your numbers go back up as everyone from our local target market to the toy poodle owners in Siberia begins celebrating their goofy four-legged friends.
Too often, the knee-jerk reaction to lower sales is to immediately seek new marketing channels for lead acquisition. While this isn’t a bad idea, don’t go deep into that end of the campaign pool and neglect your loyal customers. Around 65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers. That means the people helping you keep the lights on the most are the ones you've already built a working relationship with. Reward them with updated news, exciting early offers, and coupons to encourage them to purchase during an off-season.
Streamline and Perfect
A sales slump is a great time to reevaluate your business process, customer journey, and sales funnels. It gives you the ability to do some quality A-B testing and review all the touchpoints of your customer experience. You can also get a breath of fresh air long enough to poke your head up and see what your competitors are offering.
This could be the chance to rebrand your company or update essential online visuals for your website, social media, and more. Think of the classic ice cream shop that closes for the winter months. When they open back up, they create a lot of buzz with new flavors or some kind of comfortable outdoor seating area that signals to customers they are strong, growing, and ready to engage.
It costs 5 times as much to acquire a new customer as to keep a current loyal client. The easiest way to maintain your existing customer base is to continually offer them value in the form of communication. Minor updates via email or social media show you’re still there and preparing for the next wave of orders. This is a great time to get customer feedback and develop your brand story. A compelling story with an emotional trigger alters our brain chemistry, making us more trusting and willing to engage with new ideas.
Airbnb is a master class in brand storytelling. The name alone conjures images of A-Frame forest getaways built by individual hosts creating unique local places to stay for your next adventure. Attaching a high-quality story to your brand identity goes a long way to maintaining communication and loyalty with your current and on the fence customers.
Market or Die
A sales slump means you have fewer leads. Now is the time to engage in some quality lead magnets. These are low-cost trade-offs for encouraging higher sales that you and your team can quickly create. Consider writing a short guide for your product or service that you offer for free in exchange for email information. Maybe now is the perfect time to launch your new video series on how to prepare for a marathon to support your custom line of running shoes. Offering high value for your customers is a great way to wrap them into your sales funnel and encourage future sales.
Again, make sure you involve your social media campaigns with any kind of new lead magnet. A sales slump is the best time to focus on your paid advertising. It means you need eyeballs on your brand to offset any current losses.
Do your best to avoid cutting prices to compensate for leaner sales numbers. You do not want to devalue your products or services. In fact, you want to add value if possible. Rewards & incentives are a great way to keep your customers coming back. Nobody can turn down the dopamine buzz from a great deal. Focus on delivering what your business does best and let user-generated content like online reviews to increase the perceived value of your business.
Starbucks has an promotion where they will offer customers a free drink for their birthday in return for signing up for their loyalty program. They didn’t change anything to the product side of their business but instead added value to the loyalty side of being a customer. That is smart marketing!
Wrapping it Up
The point is a sales slump is not the end of the world. A little preparation and proactive action can go a long way to ensuring your company can weather even the harshest of storms. Practicing a few easy steps can drastically increase the perceived value of your brand and customer loyalty. This leads to more future sales and clients who are willing to sing your praises through online user-generated content and customer referrals.
The reason for the sales slump may be out of your hands, but if you keep your marketing nose to the grindstone during those slow times, it will pay off as customers come back around.
By Tabitha Jean Naylor
Keywords: Business Continuity, Sales