Slumps suck! Unfortunately, everyone hits them from time to time. They don’t have to signal the end of your business. They’re probably not a sign of incompetence. They’re not the world’s way of telling you to wake up from the dream of entrepreneurship. They’re the market’s way of saying it’s time to roll up your sleeves, dust off your idea book, and innovate your way out of the downturn. Instead of being the beginning of the end, slow sales can be a catalyst that reignites the fire of your motivation.
When sales plateau, you may be tempted to think something negative: that your initial success was due only to the novelty of any new business. Could that be the case? Yes. But often, it’s not. One major truth that eludes a lot of entrepreneurs is that novelty is always a factor in driving sales. If the initial novelty has worn off, that doesn’t mean it’s time to pack it in. It means it’s time for some more novelty! With innovative, attention-grabbing marketing, you can ride the natural roller-coaster of the business cycle back to the top.
When you recognize that you’re in a slump, it’s time to communicate, promote, and introduce a whole new audience to your product. Fortunately, there are some tried-and-true methods:
1. Have a Sale
Could it be that simple? Well, no. While having a sale is one of the oldest tricks in the book, it will only truly reinvigorate business if there’s a creative twist to it. This twist has to create a sense of urgency about your product, and generate real excitement. That’s why it should be time-dependent. Structure your sale so that the sooner a given customer takes advantage of it, the better the deal will be.
For example, you can place a specific time limit on a sale, such as a 48-hour sale, a 24-hour sale, or even a 12-hour sale. The shorter the sale, the more urgency it creates. One effective (and very inventive) sale model uses incremental pricing: slightly raising the price of your product as the sale goes on, creating a race among customers for the best deal. Outside-the-box entrepreneur Jason Zook’s Bumpsale software works this way; each time a sale is made, the price goes up until it reaches a maximum just below full retail. Everyone gets a deal, but the earlier, the better.
2. Host a Webinar
The new frontier in online marketing, webinars are the ideal way for online companies to drum up business. They are the best way to earn credibility, build trust, and generally prove the worth of your product to an audience. Not only do they build rapport with people, but (when done right), they lead to big sales conversions.
The key is to make the webinar as valuable as possible for your audience. Use webinars to showcase your expertise while giving your audience something they’ll truly appreciate. Be sure to use chat features to interact with your audience and answer their questions. Make it a group experience, and foster a real connection with attendees.
At the end of the day, people prefer to buy products from sources they trust. Webinars create that trust more effectively than any other form or marketing. Both myself and my partner here at The $100 MBA believe so firmly in the power of webinars that we’ve created a sister company, Webinar Ninja, which offers exclusive webinar software. To decide if webinars are right for your business, feel free to check out our free course on webinar hosting.
3. Sponsor an Event
Another great way to build up some hype, especially for physical businesses with real-world locations, is to sponsor an event. This can be done by online businesses as well; you’ll just have to find a venue. A decent party can go a long way towards generating buzz about your product, and lead to an uptick in sales. Invest in some food, some drinks, and some entertainment, and a party with as few as 20-30 guests can get your business’ ball rolling again.
Make your event relevant to your local community. Choose a venue that’s familiar and well-known. If you have a physical location, hold it there and use the event as a way to reach out to your neighbors. Consider sponsoring a charitable event, like a fundraiser for a local institution or a local family in need. The good will you build will come back to your business.
Too often, businesses throw big Grand Opening parties and are never heard from again. Sponsoring regular events can not only be a fun and effective way to build relationships, but a wise investment that keeps your product on people’s minds.
4. Launch Something
You can’t replace the original “newness” of the company you’ve already built, but you can inject some new newness into it! Launch something. Maybe it’s a new product. Maybe it’s a major add-on, plug-in, or alteration to an existing product. Any significant development has the power to draw new attention to your business and stimulate sales.
It doesn’t have to be drastic. Launching a new avenue of marketing can also make a big splash. Launch a YouTube channel. Launch a new podcast. Create a blog, if you don’t have one already. Even a radical redesign of your website can create a ripple effect, so long as there’s a fresh reason to check your business out. Short of a total rebranding, there innumerable ways to give your business a rebirth. Whichever you choose, include new, valuable content to reward those who check out your new development.
In martial arts, there’s a concept known as “beginner’s mind.” What it boils down to is the ability of someone who’s already well down the path to approach their development with the same enthusiasm and open-mindedness that made them start training in the first place. Entrepreneurs can apply this idea when their new business isn’t so new anymore, and the danger of stagnation is looming. Look at sales plateaus not as setbacks, but as challenges. Learn to enjoy the dynamic struggle of reinvigorating your sales and breathing new life into your passion. If you can learn not to fear the low points, the highs are right around the corner.