Every small business dreads it, but every business sees it: the slow season. As sales slow, sometimes predictably with the changing of the seasons and sometimes not, small business owners face the temptation to sit and worry, every cent carefully calculated. But getting creative during slow sales seasons can help small businesses create new opportunities for growth. Here are four suggestions.
Partner with a charity.
Give customers another reason to come through your doors through giving. Create an event or a sale that centers around a charity, either one that’s somehow related to your business or one that your target customer is likely to support. There are a number of different approaches businesses can take — for example, some will offer a discount for donations to a canned food drive in store, others will choose a day where a percentage of the profit is donated. Yes, you’ll be giving some profit away, but you’ll also be getting people through the doors.
Find a reason to celebrate.
Slow seasons tend to be scattered in between major holidays — so why not create your own when sales are slow? The suggestion, by The Balance, is to create a day celebrating something related to your product that helps get customers into the store. Look for quirky holidays that actually exist — from National Potato Chip Day to National Middle Child’s Day — or create your own centered around your project. Then, create an in-store tie-in, like free potato chips.
Give customers a reason to walk into your store with a creative display. Sometimes, something as simple as a sidewalk sale helps, while other scenarios could mean getting fancy with the window display or even expanding your reach by creating a contest — customers will probably head into the store after checking out the other entries. If your audience includes parents, make it a kids contest. Once you’re finished, expand the visuals even more by taking photos and video to share.
Bulk up on social media.
Social media is a great way to connect with customers without a big advertising budget — and chances are, if you are slow, you have the time to create a few posts anyways. First, create posts for those charity events and made up holidays, because if people don’t know you are running an event, it’s not going to do much good. Look for high-quality images and video to increase engagement, either through stock photography, learning how to take your own or hiring a professional. Then, schedule some posts ahead of time for your busy season while you have the time — followers will notice your desperation if you are only posting during slow seasons.
Part of running a small business is accepting the slow times with the busy ones — but accepting doesn’t mean you have to sit back and twiddle your thumbs. Take advantage of the down time to brainstorm some creative, cost-effective methods for reaching out to new customers and encouraging return customers. Try a charity event, a made-up or obscure holiday, new displays or stepping up the social media campaigning.