How do I prevent my sales falling flat after Christmas?
This week’s Secret Soloist is answered by 9Cabling founder Nicole Kersh.
The first year of business is always the hardest, so try not to get dispirited. There are plenty of things you can do to keep your sales steady all year round.
Without customers you have no business, so it's crucial to work out what your customers want.
A great way of finding this information out is by asking them. The most effective way to do this is by sending out a survey.
To increase your return rate, try to offer an incentive. You could offer one of your products as the incentive, which is a great way of familiarising potential customers with your products.
There are also a few great free online surveys you could use.
Have a look at the products or services you are offering and compare them to your competitors. How do you differ from your competition? What are they offering that you aren't and vice versa?
Work out your competitive advantage and publish that somewhere where your customers can see the information.
If you have a website, make a point of differentiating yourself from your competition and give your potential customers a reason to choose you.
You could also try expanding your product range to offer a more complete solution. Keep in touch with your database. Create an email newsletter and commit to sending it out consistently.
You don't want to bombard people because they will unsubscribe, so if it's a quiet period you could try every two weeks or monthly. Keep the content unique and interesting; you could include an introductory offer to entice potential customers to give it a go.
Try including case studies or feature products to grab the attention of your readers.
A good starting point is to have a read through some of the newsletters you have received and see what draws you to them. Try to replicate the elements which caught your attention.
You could also try increasing your advertising budget. In quiet periods, the common instinct seems to be to reduce advertising. I think it should be the opposite – this is the time you need to spend money to make money.
Try as many different forms of advertising as are applicable to your business. Consider industry publications, print, web, radio and TV.
You could also try sponsoring an industry event. If you are looking for an instant way of boosting sales you could try a pay-per-click web advertising campaign. In my experience, we have found this to be the fastest way of generating sales.
Try to generate as much buzz as possible. Keep refreshing your product range and generate press releases at every opportunity you can. Free PR can be a great sales tool.