Act, Don’t React—Banish Sluggish Sales with Ongoing Promotions
If you think promotions are only a solution for a slow season, think again. It takes more than the occasional 10% off coupon offer, free event, or buy-one-get-one to build stability, loyalty, and revenue.
Yet all too often, a small business owner reacts to sluggish sales only at the very moment things have slowed down—or even worse, after weeks of watching a downward trend, a period in which they’ve simply crossed their fingers and waited for the next surge.
Customers seem to innately know this, sometimes by appearing to wait for these popup sales and offers. So the business owner gets validation for the effort, but the real problem remains: Lack of proactively marketing on an ongoing basis.
We’ve seen in the past few years especially that repeated connection between you and your customer base is critical to your business’s relevance in their lives. Plus, it generates more reliable cashflow!
Coconut Bliss: A Promotional Success Story
Coconut Bliss, an Oregon-based organic dessert company, is wildly popular, mostly thanks to their effective ongoing social media promotions, which make connections between their fans and their company.
Coconut Bliss uses photos and stories of their customers enjoying their products to create a friendly, approachable brand. By combining these images with promotional contests and partnerships, they have grown their fan base and expanded their business to what it is today.
Holding Them Past the First Sale
One-time promotions do not hold a consumer’s attention span for long. Offering a new customer discount is a great way to generate interest from new customers, but it isn’t enough to keep them coming back. To hold that interest, you need to offer them more. Frequent promotions keep customers coming back to you in the hopes of more great deals.
Having a reputation for offering ongoing promotions gives newbies—and veterans—an incentive to follow your business on social media and join your email marketing list, where you can reach them directly on a regular basis.
The Recall Effect
Social media is a small business owner’s most effective tool for boosting recognition. Promotions that include your business’s name or links back to your site, preferably with “clickable” offers, help saturate social media with your brand.
The more frequently potential customers see your business’s name or products, the more likely they are to buy, remember, recommend, and return to you.
Self-Promotion to the Rescue
Self-promotion is a valuable tool, and we live in the kind of society that expects it. So don’t be afraid to commingle your announcements and general posts with ways in which customers are using your website, testing your products, and otherwise valuing you.
Showcase your business’s biggest fans as examples of people just plain loving your business. You show your appreciation to the loyal customers while also adding even more personality to your business.
Returning to the Coconut Bliss example above, note how they held an event and, afterwards, posted photos to highlight participation. It’s not just about promotion before and during a sale or occasion—it’s about showing how effective it was, thereby piquing people’s interest in participating next time.
5 Easy Ways to Regularly Promote Your Business
1. Delegate A Staff Member
Often it falls to the business manager to take care of the company’s blog and promotions. As manager, use your authority to delegate this task to one of your staff members or outsource it to a marketing specialist.
2. Take Advantage of the Holidays
Of course, we all must admit that holidays are primed for marketing events and promotions. Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Fourth of July, National Shelter Dog Month—the list goes on.
For Valentine’s Day, you might run a bring-your-sweetheart workshop to introduce the significant other to try your cuisine or classes. For National Shelter Dog Month, you could hold an event at a nearby location and invite a local shelter to bring some pets.
3. Pair Your Promotion with Another Business
Pairing your own business with another offers your customers an additional incentive. Have a health-minded business whose slow day tends to be Monday? Why not invite a local health food store to hand out coupons to customers on Meatless Mondays? Appealing to something universal—like pets or food—ensures wider interest.
4. Offer a Rewards Program
Give your customers a really good reason to return with a rewards program. Let them know you value them with offers of additional savings for members only. This also gives you broader access to their contact information, such as email addresses and, in some cases, their social media accounts.
See a great example of this highlighted in this post.
5. Email Marketing
Email marketing keeps your customers engaged on a weekly or monthly basis. By suggesting that customers sign up for weekly deals and updates, you remind them of your products and give them an incentive to return.
However, don’t overuse this tactic. You don’t want to overwhelm your fans with promotional emails.
For instance, since becoming a subscriber to Loft and Express, I get at least one email a day—overkill! And now I simply delete them, which means they’re less effective, unless I happen to be in the mood to actually shop. Tailor a schedule so that you don’t burn out your customer base.
How to Get Started
It is never too late to start an ongoing promotional campaign, and with the new year right around the corner, now is a perfect time to plan.
Figure out who is responsible for managing your promotions, discuss your strategy, build a schedule around local and national events and holidays, coordinate with other businesses—and don’t forget to chart your progress, take photos, and assess how it went!
Determine how much you’ve spent on resources vs. the overall impact. Sometimes the impact of a single event won’t be financially lucrative, for instance, but perhaps it will have gained you 100 new Facebook fans. Then you’ll be able to decide whether or not you should repeat the effort at a later time. Be sure to vary the kinds of promotions you plan out so that you avoid customer fatigue as well—the more creative, the better!
Most Importantly: Stick with It!
The longer you test, the more you learn and the more likely you are to see results. Just like any worthwhile relationship, working in partnership with your fans and customers to build buzz around your business will be greatly benefited by your commitment to long-term success.
Some promotions will flop and others will soar, but by diversifying what you’re doing and doing it more frequently, you’re testing your market, boosting your relationship to your customers, and securing more steady income through traditionally slower periods.