If you run a seasonal business, you probably know what it means to take an enforced business holiday. There may have been days when you’ve had to lock shop or watch balefully as customers trickle in.
For some other entrepreneurs, your business may not be precisely seasonal but could be subject to seasonal fluctuations in patronage. Clothing stores, gift shops, resorts and tourist attractions are examples of the companies that experience seasonal variations in sales traffic.
Regardless of whether you run a seasonal business or a business whose sales fluctuates with the seasons, the plan you implement to survive the lean months may make the difference between your packing up entirely or experiencing a significant boost in sales when the peak periods roll in.
Find below some valuable tips to help you sell better during lean times.
How to thrive during the lean sales months
Start a content marketing campaign:
If you’ve not been reaching out to your subscribed customers to provide useful information, now’s the time to leverage content marketing on a scale to suit your budget. A simple email or newsletter with helpful information will be the right place to start.
Let’s suppose you run a clothing business; you can send useful tips on how to take care of different kinds of clothing materials, tips on how to combine fashion items and accessories and 1001 other fashion tips and how-to guides to your subscribers. By doing this, you achieve several objectives :
- Provide helpful resources to your customers.
- Position yourself as a value adder rather than a potential money grabber.
- Keep your brand top of mind.
- Build a relationship where the customer can view you as a partner of choice.
- Differentiate your brand from the competition. Even if there is no immediate reason for the customer to buy from you, you never know when they may need your product or services. The key is to remain top of the mind when they require services such as those you offer.
Offer massive sales discounts on slow-moving items:
Apart from the holiday periods, the lean months are the second best periods to offer discounts and promos to both potential and existing customers.
If you run a local boutique, for instance, the lean periods are the best times to take proper stock of your inventory. If you have items that are just gathering dust in your store, you can offer huge discounts to get these items out.
If you run a business that thrives on tourist engagement, the slow periods when the tourists have come and gone would be an excellent time to focus on the locals.
To help your business survive during these off-season periods, you should offer special discounts on your products and services.
Intensify your product marketing campaigns:
Use the lean periods to intensify your PPC advertising campaigns on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. If you are a highly seasonal business, depending on the nature of your services, you could repurpose your strategy for the off-peak periods.
For instance, if you provide resort or holiday getaway services, you could focus your business as a family weekend getaway during the off-season months.
Below are some useful advertising tips to help you gain more clicks and more conversions with your promotions.
● Create a captivating one-liner headline that tugs at the potential customer’s emotions.
● Use stunning visuals.The more creative, the better.If you sell men sneakers, don’t just display a picture of the shoes( that’s entirely predictable and your competitors are doing that too). You can choose humorous visuals if your message is formal, or more formal images if your headline is playful.The key to grabbing your audience’s attention is to create a contrast between your headline and your visuals.
● In the description, add a simple offer the customer can’t refuse.This is the right place to state your discount offer, your free trial sample or free shipping.
● End with a compelling CTA. Keep your call to action, short and straightforward.
This Facebook ad by Classpass blends all the elements of a compelling social media ad- Engaging headline, stunning visuals and a compelling offer wrapped up in its call to action; ‘Try two weeks free!’
Upsell using conditional rebates.
You can use conditional discount selling to push out products that are not fast moving — an excellent way to upsell without looking like you’re up selling.
As an example, if you have men’s sneakers that sell reasonably well even during the leaner months, you can tie a conditional discount to this item by offering rebates if the sneaker and any other related item/ items are purchased together. If you run an e-commerce store, there are several apps to help you set up conditional discounts for your products.
Take a quick survey of your existing customers:
It’s sometimes beneficial to take a review of your current customers to find out how you can improve your services. If your seasonal business has experienced a more drastic decline in sales in recent times ( more than seasonal variation would account for), it’s essential you find out what the problem could be.
Starting a short survey using any of the free, or very affordable survey tools can help you gain valuable customer insights into your services and the customer-centricity of your brand.
With these insights, you can know what you need to maintain, adjust, or overhaul to gain more sales for your business both during peak and off peak periods.
So now you know what to do during those months when the customers barely trickle in. Rather than fold your arms and watch helplessly as your sales plummet, you should take your purchases in your hands, literally.
The key to succeeding during the lean or off-season periods is thinking outside the box and adopting a proactive mindset.
For innovative tips on how to grow your e-commerce business, please check our guide on scaling your e-commerce sales