The old adage says, “If you build it they will come”…sometimes? There comes a time in every business owners journey when sales slow, come to a halt or perhaps they are yet to begin. It’s frustrating and disheartening but it can absolutely be resolved.
Last fall I found my numbers dipped significantly and it had been a little too long since we saw a sale on our online store. Before I threw in the towel, I took four major steps to reinvigorate sales.
Evaluate what is and isn’t working
It is imperative to evaluate what is and isn’t working. Start with the data - it rarely lies. How many people are coming to visit your website, social media or physical store? Are you reaching enough people to make a sale? In the Advertising/Public Relations sphere they follow the standard practice that a person must see your company seven times in order for them to remember it. This especially matters when you’re looking to make your first sale.
While you’re digging through data, begin to identify patterns both good and bad and draw correlations between your customers’ actions and the results. For example, what products are people clicking on but not adding to their cart? In my case, I noticed there were a few goods that while priced fairly - my customer perceived the value as less and therefore chose not to purchase. There are simple fixes like a permanent price change or a limited run flash-sale that allow stale product like this to move quickly.
Develop or Revise the Current Marketing Strategy
Take a moment to develop or review your marketing strategy. How you market your business in the beginning or middle is a huge factor in if/how you make sales. Is your strategy all-encompassing? Are you targeting the correct consumer for your product/service or casting a wide net? If you’ve already implemented a marketing program, take a look at your various outlets to determine what social media posts, e-mails, public relations mentions, advertisements, and flyers have yielded sales or at least solid engagement. From here, take what worked and do it again. Even if it didn’t get you a sale the first time, it’s worth repeating as your customer finds it engaging in some way. You can make minor tweaks to the call to the action, offer, image, or subject line depending on the platform.
I’ve also found the following to be extremely successful for yielding sales.
Targeted E-mail Marketing: Go into your e-mail marketing database and see who is opening e-mails and who isn’t. Additionally, take your general list and divide it into sub-categories. For example, I have a list specifically for corporate clients that I’ve broken down into even more specific sub-categories, like hotels and tourism, entertainment agencies, wedding planners, and so on. Take these lists and send them separate e-mails promoting products or services specific to who they are and what they might be interested in. Remember the more targeted your emails are the more likely you are to capture someone’s attention.
Lost Cart Reminders: Are your customers adding items to their cart but not actually buying? I highly recommend a lost cart reminder. A simple, no fuss, automated e-mail will go out every time a customer adds product to their cart but leaves your site before finishing the deal. This little reminder is awesome for recovering sales and is the virtual version of calling up a client to see if they are still interested.
Run a “can’t miss” Promotion
For those who are experiencing a sales drought, this one is for you! When our sales hit a low it was early fall, a slow time for sales in general. Folks are gearing up for the holidays and coming down from the buzz of the summer. To capture their attention I chose to experiment with a sample sale. After looking around my studio one day - I realized I had a lot of miscellaneous goods lying around from past seasons. Everything was in tip top shape, it just was no longer being offered on the site. Essentially, I was sitting on money! For the sample sale we dropped the prices on goods with a higher price than their perceived value. We added goods to the site that were unsold from past seasons and then executed on a marketing campaign specific to this sale.
We positioned the sample sale as an opportunity to get ahead on holiday shopping. We only had 2-4 versions of each product so people were encouraged to move fast. To add pressure, we only ran the sale for 5 days. During those five days I personally asked my friends, family and colleagues to share and endorse the sale on their respective social platforms…and they did! We coupled this with three e-mails in five days - giving our loyal customers first dibs on the sale. To be sure nobody missed it we were adamant about cross promoting it on all of our social media channels and retargeted ads to already engaged customers.
We reached new audiences, did thousands in sales that week and re-engaged our current customers and supporters.
Find a New Audience
Nothing says new sales like a fresh audience. Most of us don’t have the extra funds to hire a public relations agency - but in this day and age it’s not the only way to get your business in front of new eyes. I’ve used many of the following methods to increase our sales - with residual benefits of growing our e-mail list and social media followings.
Multiple partner giveaways: Partner with a few like-minded brands to create a cross-promotional giveaway. This is a very low cost way to expose your product or service to to new customers who fall in line with your demographic. If they don’t care to take the risk of the giveaway odds are they’ll go straight to your site or store to just purchase what it is or what they want.
Revenue Share Partnerships: I’m not talking about dropping prices and selling an exorbitant amount of your goods for next to nothing. Instead look for or create your own revenue share model where you offer a small incentive for the consumer, and split the revenue with one individual who engages multiple influencers who will be promoting it on your behalf.
Public Relations: I’m a huge fan of engaging micro-influencers and smaller lifestyle websites to promote brands. One of our top three sales drivers is a small outlet that specifically focuses on our target demographic. They still have a targeted audience that is fully engaged and trusting.
It is easy to want to stop and get defeated but don’t! Keep in mind there is always a way to make a sale - a little strategy, understanding and perseverance can change the course of everything.