There’s a natural ebb and flow to business. There are busy seasons followed by quiet seasons and unless those slower seasons are built into your line of work, like when I was a wedding photographer in the Midwest and could only work for about 6 months of the year—there’s just no way of knowing when or why or for how long your sales might slow down for.
It can actually be quite scary when it happens, especially if the downtick is due to something you can’t control, outside circumstances that you have zero power over, like the economy taking a downturn or, oh, I don’t know, a worldwide pandemic causing people to change the way they shop, spend, and one that has everyone reevaluating our spending habits.
Like I said, there’s not always a way to predict WHAT might cause the ebbs and flows in our sales or profits, and yet, I’ve found that using the slower periods of time in my business for intentional growth, maintenance, optimization and creative solutions can be one of the most powerful ways to boost things and at least get my business on the path toward more sales and healthier numbers.
I have four methods for you to keep in your back pocket and use whenever you experience slow seasons of business so that you can work toward boosting those sales and getting back in the game.
Update your portfolio
It’s easy to convince yourself that only your social media matters or that’s where people look for the current happenings and it’s a common lie that we tell ourselves that our updating our portfolio or home on the web definitely won’t feel like something that will directly affect your sales whatsoever—but I promise… taking the time to thoughtfully update your portfolio is one of the best ways to attract and hone in on your perfect clients and customers. And it’s one of those things that just falls by the wayside when you’re in the fast and furious rush of busy seasons.
If you’re wondering what I mean by updating your portfolio, or if you’re not in a business that has a technical “portfolio” like the old fashioned folders with your best work all laminated and shiny that you hand to a prospective client in a meeting, it’s important that you look at how you’re showing up digitally as a reflection of your own portfolio. This means you can still evaluate all of your marketing materials to make sure they’re aligned and up to date with what you do and who you serve.
A lot of time, we share our work on social media in posts that live and die within 24 hours if we’re lucky, but very rarely do we spend time updating our website, so take some time to add to your site with your latest work, projects, freebies, and photos.
You want your website to be just as pretty or prettier than social because that’s where people will actually land to book or buy from you, and it should be a place you’re proud for people to end up on. Take time to make sure your website is a place that serves people, speaks to the pain points or challenges they’re facing that your business can solve, gives them a taste of the experience of what working with you would be like, and provides clear and direct calls to action to capture that audience and invite them to engage so that you can serve them better.
Updating your website might also look like updating your rate card, refreshing the data and stats you share about your services, refreshing photos and headlines and finally adding that new section dedicated to your newest offerings.
While we’re here, now’s also a good time to ensure you have a solid way to capture their email address to keep the conversation going off of social media and your website. Don’t assume people will bookmark your page to come to, don’t focus solely on putting in a ton of effort into making your social media the best of the best — remember you don’t own your followers or control those platforms… so instead, start thinking of your website as your cozy and complete home on the web that communicates what you do, how you serve others, and how they can keep in touch with you, allowing you to take them on a journey through their inbox and ultimately buy from you.
A slower season is the ideal time to start that email list you’ve been putting off, or if you’ve already got your list going, update your welcome email or sequence and pop back into the inbox of your subscribers. Email list building is my gluten-free-bread-with-extra-butter, so I have dozens of resources for starting, growing, and serving your list all in one place for you at jkemaillist.com. You’ll find a subject line cheat sheet, email templates, more podcast episodes on the topic of list building, and access to my free Zero-250 Challenge, which is basically a mini-course in starting and growing your list.
Dig into your data and numbers
A lot of times when we dig into the numbers we find out that 1-2 things move the needle forward the most, and yet, we make it our job to try and master and do 100 new things without understanding where our efforts result in true results.
Look at what has caused spikes in your email list, or dips in your website views. See if there’s specific content topics that consistently outperform others. Look at where most people are ending up on your website from… you might think it’s from Instagram when really it’s Pinterest driving most of your traffic.
These are powerful stories brought to us through numbers help us to understand what is actually moving the needle for us because you can double down on those efforts that have worked really well in the past and ease up on the things that just aren’t vibing.
Even if you’re not writing in-depth blogs or releasing 60 minute podcast episodes, you’ve likely created content in some form that will give you some insight into what your audience, your potential clients, enjoy. Scroll back through your recent Instagram posts and pick out the top 3 posts with the most likes, comments, saves and other engagement. If you have a creator or business account, you can tap Insights for an even more in depth view, if not, just pull the numbers and use them to guide your creation process.
Create scarcity and hit the trenches
Have you ever heard of the Scarcity Principle? An article from Investopedia defines it like this: “The scarcity principle is an economic theory in which a limited supply of a good—coupled with a high demand for that good—results in a mismatch between the desired supply and demand equilibrium.” It goes on to say that marketers commonly use the principle to create scarcity around a product or good, making it exclusive, in order to generate demand for it.
While evergreen funnels or timeless offers are GREAT when the demand meets the supply, scarcity offers work differently. It creates a psychological desire for people to buy in because they don’t want to miss out or be left behind on a short-term offer.
Try creating a limited time offer, something that will either go away in a week or two, or an opportunity where the price will increase exponentially after that amount of time or a specific number of an offer that once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Do a concentrated push meaning you’re all about this offer. You’re unapologetically showing up to communicate it and sharing the scarcity within the offer itself. Get loud about it, invite in questions from your followers and email subscribers, and actually take the time to respond with voice texts or video DMs.
The key here isn’t to create something that people ONLY buy because they feel like if they don’t, they will never find success. That type of marketing leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths and rightfully so, there’s nothing good about being bullied into a purchase. No, THIS type of scarcity more so pushes you to really get yourself out there and communicate so well that the people whom the offer is created for will know with certainty. In creating this deadline for decision making, you’re equally inviting in those to say it’s not the right time/fit/offer/pricepoint just as you’re inviting those ready to take the next step with you.
So many times, our marketing is the bare minimum or on autopilot and we trick ourselves into thinking that people already know your offer exists, they will buy it or take advantage of it when or if they are ready… but people sometimes need a reason to make a decision, and a scarcity offer creates that sort of urgency. No decision is made in a vacuum, and people want to feel cared for and thought about, so help people to either say yes or no! Be willing to have more 1:1 interactions and invite those in to collect feedback, insight, and to qualify clients.
Enhance the client experience
Start with the mom test. I love this because moms (or motherly figures in your life) are always honest, and they’ll tell you what you need to know in a way that builds up your confidence without ruining you. Essentially, I want you to ask your mom or someone you trust to head to your website, click through the pages as though they’re an interested client or customer, and go all the way through the process to book you or buy a specific product from you.
Watch along as they navigate and click where they think they should. Count how many clicks it takes or where they might take a wrong turn. Don’t say anything as they’re navigating your site; just silently watch them take the action and take note of how many clicks or pages it takes for them to find where to hit purchase.
The goal of this is to see how clear it is for someone else to figure out how to work with or buy from you. You ultimately want to eliminate any unnecessary clicks where you could confuse and lose someone, and you want to make sure it’s super easy and straightforward for them to follow through to quickly and easily be a client, removing and obstacles or assumptions along the way.
Investigate every touchpoint that you have with a client, how can you make their experience better or more special, from email communications and invoicing to shipping notifications to refund policies. If you’re a service based business, could you record a video for each client who inquires telling them about you, your experience, and what working with you would be like in the context of their specific request or need. For product based businesses, could you show different uses for your products or help people understand which product is the right fit for their needs or how they can incorporate it into their life even easier? And for my fellow digital entrepreneurs, could you help connect people to your offer in an easier way and help them qualify themselves with confidence and less clicks?
Okay, that’s a lot of ifs, maybes, and ideas… Let me put some action items into a list for you as you start thinking about how to leverage the time you have in a slow season and turn it into future opportunities.
First, review the many different visuals of your business — your portfolio, website, graphics, one-sheets, freebies, emails, and so on, and choose to update one (or components of one) each day.
Next, dig into whatever numbers you have and reflect on what resonated with your audience — Make a list of 4-5 pieces of content you can create that builds off what did well for your business in the past.
Then, have some fun with a new offer, or an existing offer, that you could release for a limited amount of time. Choose a release date, set a timeline, and test out a mini-launch format that not only gives you earning potential in a slow season, it’ll be a learning experience to see how your audience responds.
Finally, audit the client experience, from how you show up in their email inboxes down to the steps they need to take to actually click “BUY NOW” on your incredible offers.
The Big Picture
Let’s be honest. Business dry spells SUCK. There’s no mincing words here because I’ve been there and I get it. But… as an eternal optimist, a part of me does secretly find these slower times to be telling and even beneficial in some ways. They allow us to dig into the nitty-gritty and create new processes and strategies that are tighter and even more aligned with our goals and purpose.
While they might tempt you to freeze or go into desperation mode, resist that temptation and hang onto the truth that what you do matters. How you show up matters. And the small actions and forward steps you take TODAY can impact you and your business for years to come. So, just keep moving, just keep refining, and you’re sure to hit your stride again so soon. I truly believe that.