Have you noticed your sales numbers are lower than you would like? Is your employee morale low? If so, your small business may be in a mid-year slump. But it doesn’t have to be. With a little bit of creativity, you can use these months to add revenue to your company, bring new customers through the door and get employees excited about coming to work.
Here are five ways you can bust your company out of a slump:
1. Have a contest. There is something about a contest, and the opportunity to win prizes, that gets people excited and energized. Brainstorm ways to engage your customers through a contest or hold a contest among employees for meeting goals. “Contests can increase brand awareness and encourage customers to make repeat visits or repeat purchases for an additional entry,” says David Handmaker, CEO of Next Day Flyers. “Contests can be fun and engaging for both customers and staff.”
Next Day Flyers recently held a Postcard Portfolio Contest for which several hundred customers submitted their creative postcard designs. Everyday for a month a winner was randomly selected to win 100 custom printed postcards. Handmaker noticed a boost in morale among staff as soon as they began brainstorming about the contest.
2. Hold a pep rally or employee event. Often, the mid-year slump is due to employees losing motivation during the summer. Sometimes, natural business slowdown causes staff to lose some enthusiasm. VoIP Supply combated its mid-year slump by hosting an internal Olympics-themed event to celebrate the 2012 summer games and motivate employees.
The company replaced some cubicles with temporary green shag carpeting to provide a “lawn” for employees to gather to receive encouraging words and updates on strategies, says Ben Sayers, CEO and owner of VoIP Supply. Employees tested their skills during events, such as a discus throw where they tossed a VoIP conference phone, phone relays and a synchronized dialing event. Boxing matches were even held to see which warehouse employees could box up devices for shipment the fastest.
3. Launch a new campaign. When Ashley Jones hit a mid-year slump with Skylight Creative Group, her marketing and graphic design company, she realized that she hadn't focused her business's marketing efforts in recent months. She reworked her budget to make room for a new marketing plan and began running video ads in elevators in high-rise buildings in Atlanta to target corporate executives. “It's important for business owners to realize that business is always out there—it's not "if," but "how," and working to understand why you're not currently getting clients,” Jones says.
Create a new advertising campaign that you can inexpensively launch and will get your customers talking, and hopefully bring in new customers. Be creative and think outside the box both for delivery method and content. If you aren't already using the technology, consider integrating mobile marketing into your campaign to integrate your product/service into your customer’s daily routine.
4. Introduce a new product or service. While many companies debut new products around the holiday season, the summer months are a great time to offer customers a new product or service since they aren't bombarded with new offerings. New products are a way to expand your customer base and give you something new to talk about on social media. “Mid-year slumps may be an indicator that there is a gap in offerings. Business owners should think about how they can fill the void,” Handmaker says.
Brainstorm with your staff about what products and services customers regularly ask if you offer. Handmaker says that Next Day Flyers recently got great ideas for new products through a customer survey. Once you have a list of new ideas, determine which have a high ROI and can be easily implemented.
5. Target new customers. One of the best ways to move out of mid-year slumps is to bring in new customers, which will both increase revenue and morale. Look at your customer base and determine if there is a target demographic you can focus on. If your company mainly serves men, then consider ways to appeal to women. If young families typical frequent your retail store, work to bring grandparents into the shop.
A great way to do this is to find a noncompeting business that targets the customer base that you would like to reach and partner together. You can host events and promotions together and share each others e-mail/social media contacts to mutually benefit both companies.
How do you bust out of a mid-year slump? Let us know in the comments box below.
Jennifer Gregory is a journalist with over 17 years professional writing experience. Jennifer blogs via Contently.com.