Marketing Planning & Reporting, Workflows & Processes

Why Business is Quiet and How to Turn Things Around – Part 3

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As business owners, we know that things won’t be busy all of the time. But when sales and enquires take a noticeable dip, it can be really stressful. In order to turn things around, it’s important to figure out why business is quiet.

In this post, I’ll explore some external and internal reasons you might be experiencing a quiet period. Armed with that knowledge, you can start to put strategies in place to address the dip and get those sales coming in again!

And before we begin, remember that whatever the reason, it’s important not to beat yourself up! All businesses experience peaks and troughs, so don’t waste time in a panic, berating yourself for “dropping the ball”. Things will pick up again if you take the time to assess and adjust.

This post is the third part of a series about what to do when your business goes quiet. If you haven’t read it already, hop on over to part 1 and give it a read for some more tips on how to refocus and recharge during quieter times. Or check out part 2 for a five-step action plan to capitalise on your quiet periods.

External Reasons

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1. Seasonal Slump

Something every single business experiences (almost) every single year is the seasonal slump. This might appear at a different time depending on your industry, but it’s one of the most common reasons why business is quiet. For many, there are two key times of year you can expect to see this:

  1. January (starting Mid-December for some industries)
  2. Late June to Mid-August

The post-Christmas lull is well known, particularly for retail businesses. Everyone has spent their money in the lead-up to the festive season, and is just trying to get through January in one piece! So if you’re selling a product, the chances are anyone who was planning to buy did it in December.

And for service-based businesses, another common lull is over the summer holiday period. When the schools are off and people are taking a much-needed mid-year break, they are focused on family and leisure time. Booking more practical appointments, or work-related projects, tends to fall down the priority list.

How to address the seasonal slump

There are a couple of ways you can approach the seasonal slump. When you know it’s coming, and you’ve prepared by really capitalising on your busy periods, this is the perfect time for you to take a much-needed break. It feels scary, but when you’re in a good routine, it works! No-one can be productive all year round, so use this as a good opportunity to recharge and plan ahead.

If, however, you want to give things a boost, as a service-based business, you could consider running programmes that last six months, including a payment plan. That way, you know that even during the quieter months, you are guaranteed income from those long-term clients.

And as a product-based business, seasonal slumps are usually a good opportunity for some sale activity. If there’s stock you’d like to move, offering those products at a discount can attract customers who might otherwise not have been looking.

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2. Economic Factors

This is the big one that causes every business owner stress – the state of the economy. As far as external factors go, nothing could be more out of your hands.

A change in the global or national economy can be a huge reason why business is quiet. When money is tight, and people are cutting back, most industries feel it. So if you’ve noticed a drop in sales, it’s very possible it has nothing to do with your business and everything to do with customers’ financial priorities.

How to address economic factors

This is a tricky one. Many people jump to discounting in an attempt to drive sales. And while this can work as a pick-me-up during a seasonal slump, it isn’t a long-term solution. Economic difficulties are unlikely to be over in a matter of weeks.

So, instead of lowering your prices and eating into your profits, why not take a look at opportunities to help make purchasing from you more affordable? If you haven’t already, you could look into offering payment plans, allowing customers to pay over 30 days or 3 months.

You could also consider ways of expanding your loyalty scheme, and offering more financial benefits to those who sign up. If customers currently receive a discount or a free product after they’ve spent £100, could you lower that to £75? Or could you increase the value of a point on your points system?

These are all great ways of easing the financial pressure on your customer while encouraging repeat business. Plus, it is a good way of helping your business stand out from the crowd for something other than low sale prices.

Internal Reasons

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1. You’ve done less marketing recently

Every small business owner has been there. When people are busy, the first thing that usually goes is their marketing. Social media posts dry up, networking event attendance becomes a thing of the past, and you can’t remember the last time you wrote a blog post.

There are many reasons why you might have been busy. Whether it’s because your products were selling like hotcakes, your diary was full, you hired new members of staff who needed training, or things got busy in your personal life. Whatever the reason, it’s something that can have a big impact in the long run!

So if you’re wondering why business is quiet, sometimes it’s simply down to you not making time to put yourself out there.

How to address a drop in your marketing

It sounds pretty basic, but first things first – start marketing again! Pick up where you left off and get things like your email newsletter and blog ticking over again. Book yourself into a couple of networking events and reach out to past and existing clients to ask for testimonials.

More importantly though, start finding ways to put systems in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Scheduling things like your social media content can really take the pressure off. You can do this using platforms like Later, SocialBee and Buffer. Facebook even has its own scheduling software for Facebook and Instagram. I’ve written an entire post on this topic here.

The bottom line is that without continuing to get your business out there, busy spells won’t last forever.

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2. You haven’t been keeping an eye on the competition

A vital part of every marketing strategy is keeping an eye on the competition. Knowing what others in your industry are doing helps you keep on top of your game!

Much like a dip in your marketing, a busy period might mean your competitors haven’t been on your radar. But that’s a massive advantage to them and a potential reason why business is quiet!

If another business in your industry has started doing something different, that could easily be why you are losing out on customers. Whether it’s a new pricing strategy, an exciting new product, or simply a revamp of their brand, they could gain a competitive edge.

How to address a shift in competition

First things first – sit down and look at each one of your direct competitors and make a note of all the ways they instantly stand out. What are they shouting about? What positive news have they had to share lately?

Focusing on your competition isn’t about following their lead, or copying them. It’s actually about seeing what you can do differently to help you stand out. So if a competitor is sharing that they have recently lowered their prices and are now the cheapest, don’t jump to make yours lower. Instead, focus on your own brand values and what makes you different.

Maybe you source your materials locally. Or your products are environmentally friendly. It might even just be that your brand has a really fun and vibrant personality, and you need to find new ways to share that online.

And again, be sure to make analysing your competitors a non-negotiable in your diary. Even if it’s just for a couple of hours a month, block that out in advance so you can’t forget!


KEEP READING

To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
It’s Oh So Quiet… How to Boost Your Small Business in Quiet Times
6 Tips to Convert More Website Visitors Into Paying Customers
7 Ways to Turn Your Social Media Followers Into Paying Customers
5 Ways to Stand Out from Your Competitors

Denise Strohsahl brand and marketing consultant for small businesses

Hello, I’m Denise from sandstonecastles, a brand & marketing consultancy based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I help small business owners like yourself to find the right marketing that’s in line with your brand and values.