The winter months can be a slow for a number of sectors, August can be a drag for others and freelancers often feel the pinch during February and March when budgets are depleted. While it might be nice to take it easy for a few weeks, taking it lying down shouldn’t be an option – there are a number of ways to prepare for lulls in business, many creative avenues to explore and opportunities to utilise your extra hours.
Create Personalised Offers
Utilise your sales data to evaluate what has sold well or what hasn’t and, if possible, transpose this onto your customer base or markets. From here you can make bespoke offers, which could include packages of services or products at reduced costs; for example, a customer who purchases the same items month in, month out may be tempted with an add on at the right price, thus boosting income when it reduces elsewhere. Alternatively, you might attract a previous customer to come back with a deal they can’t refuse.
Sell Your Story
Whether a seasonal dip on its way or you’re planning ahead ‘just in case’, creating stories to use within the context of public relations activities is smart thinking. Look at the forward features lists of target publications to find topics on which you can provide comment. For example, a hotel that tends to be lacking guests in November could look at what the target media are covering in October’s issue, and could advise on any number of things; what to do in the area on a rainy day, what are the city’s best kept secrets, to how to cook the perfect hotel breakfast or how to have an Autumn shopping break on a budget. Also, product launches can be planned for a time when you want the additional interest that media coverage can generate.
If you sell products you may have items left from old ranges or excess stock of products that didn’t fly of the shelves. Not only is a flash 24 or 48 hour sale a great way to make room for new lines in your stock room, but it can generate income when you need it most. Of course, your margins are significantly reduced, but a sale is a psychological trigger that allows you to cleverly market your full price items, and push for additional sales.
Price Comparisons & Structures
Undertaking an audit of your competitors and their price points for the same services or items could mean you can show customers or clients how much they could save. The findings and messages can be used in any number of marketing and PR activities, and it could form the basis of a campaign. Alternatively, could your pricing structure be amended to bring in so called ‘useless’ price points. Offering service A at £100, B at £200 and C at £210 appears to make the middle option quite ‘useless’; however, it helps to turn ‘bargain hunters’ into ‘value seekers’. Making such changes during a fruitful period may keep you front of mind when customers’ money is tight and value is essential.
Plan a New Product Range or Service
Consider the period when your business is at its quietest while also reflecting on the bigger picture of growth, ask yourself these questions:
> What skills do you have at your disposal?
> What are your most profitable products or services?
> What are your most profitable markets or sectors?
> What markets or sectors could you expand in?
> What does your industry’s future look like?
> What is your passion?
Just because your business has always serviced multiple sectors, made blue widgets or sold in the UK, it doesn’t mean that’s how it has to be forever and a day. Being adaptable is crucial in business, and re-evaluating your market position, company focus and vision can offer ways to survive slumps, branch out to increase annual profits and flourish in locations and sectors you didn’t dream of before.
Start a Second Business
We all know you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket, time and tide wait for no man and a little of what you fancy does you good. Depending how you answered the first and last questions above, an ambitious and creative thought may have flashed through your head, but if not? Seriously think about it! It is common for company owners to have multiple streams of business income – through the ups and downs of months, years, austerity periods and Brexit deals, fingers in pies can offer holistic stability. From a second company that will complement your current one to a different sector you personally love, if the real aim is to keep busy and have a consistent income stream, maybe you should broaden your horizons.
To speak to an expert business adviser about your venture’s forecasting, growth and market planning, or if you are considering starting a new company, call us to arrange an initial free consultation.