After gifts are opened, holiday lights are off and the refrigerator no longer has Eggnog chilling on the shelf, you know the holiday season has come to an end.
Many small businesses shift from holiday hustle to cricket-quiet stores. But this year you don’t have to be one of the businesses dealing with the typical New Year slump. You can use these five ideas to get your revenue rolling during the slow time:
1. Nurture “lost” customers
Every business has a group of customers who have strayed. In fact, research at Fivestars shows there’s a 60% chance a first time visitor won’t ever come back. Yet, we found that if you can get that first time customer to visit a second time, the probability of them returning and becoming a regular is 70-80%, which is huge. During this downtime, focus on bringing back these “lost” customers to make them regulars.
This is where building your customer database, either of phone numbers, email addresses or hopefully both, is important. You need contact info of those who’ve visited your store if you want to try to bring them back.
It’s especially important to take advantage of the increased traffic you’re experiencing now to gather that contact info, either through your loyalty program, newsletter signups, giveaways or on your website – Use a third party tool like OptinMonster to create a pop up ad that collects this info through your website.
Through your loyalty program, send messages/promotions to those who haven’t visited in 30, 90, 180+ days (depending on your business). If you’re using an email marketing provider, segment your lists by those who haven’t opened your emails in the last 3-6+ months. Create specific campaigns that entice these “lost” customer to come back and check out your store. The headline could read, “We Miss You” and offer a coupon, or outline recent changes, new products, or updates customers will enjoy.
2. Plan a party, class, or demonstration
When the slow time arrives, plan a party that brings life back to your shop. Consider hosting an event after closing. Invite your loyal customers to a special event and encourage them to bring a friend.
For example, host a VIP tour, a class, or a demonstration. Coffee shops can offer a behind-the-counter tour that allows customers to make their own frothy drink. (With supervision of course). An electronics boutique can offer a class on beginner’s photography, or a bakery can host a cake decorating class.
Whatever your company is known for, turn it into an interactive event that gives customers an experience they wouldn’t ordinarily get during peak season.
Invite guests through your loyalty program, use social media to extend the invite, send postcards in the mail and hang flyers in your store to advertise the must-attend event.
3. Host a creative post-holiday sale
Give your customers a reason to stop during January with an incentive. Consider hosting a post-holiday sale. Tell customers that “the holidays are over, but the sales aren’t.” Or, host a “Holiday Hangover” sale like this one:
In this case, the customer gets 20 percent off merchandise, but you can tailor it to fit your needs.
For a unique twist, focus your hangover sale on products that help customers recover from the holidays like herbal tea that alleviates stress, products that make tree clean up a snap or storage containers to keep kids’ new toys off the living room floor.
4. Cater to niche markets
When revenue is sluggish, think about new, niche markets that can give your cash flow a boost. For example, a restaurant could tout its vegetarian entrees during the off-season, or a bakery could focus its marketing efforts on gluten-free goodies.
What can your business offer that caters to a special group of people? Once you answer that, you can start creating specific promotions for it. During these promotions, be sure to collect customer information.
For example, the bakery should add a customer sign up sheet to its counter during its gluten-free push asking customers that are interested in these specific promotions to sign up for email or text alerts. If you have a loyalty program, encourage customers to sign up. That way, you’ll have a list of interested customers to target next year.
5. Upsell current customers
Rather than acquiring new customers, upsell your current customers. Offer current customers bonus features, exclusive deals or an upgrade at a discounted price.
The idea is to entice your current customers to spend a little more, while providing them with something of value. For example, a Teashop could offer a 20 percent off discount on a gift box with the purchase of any large tea. A company that runs on memberships could offer an upgraded membership package for a nominal fee.
Or, use your loyalty program as an upsell advantage. Offer your customers a certain number of loyalty points with a specific purchase.
With a strong email list, you’ll be able reach out to your customers all year, not just during the slow times.
How do you weather the sluggish sales season? Share your business tips in the comment section below.