Boosting Small Business Sales During Slower Months

This is a challenging time of year for many companies. Sales are down as a result of the COVID pandemic in addition to normal decreases in spending during the winter and spring months in Maine. In this unprecedented time, there are a number of ways to boost sales when you really need it. 

Offer Discounts or Coupons

Everyone loves a bargain! Discounts attract new customers and encourage the existing ones to buy again. You may consider discounts on the slow-moving items or general seasonal discounts on all the items. Make discounts more exclusive with coupons. About 93% of the shoppers use coupons throughout the year and people buy sooner when they have a coupon. Coupons are valuable for e-commerce because they inspire customers to take action. 

The best practice is to have product/service costs covered even at the discounted sales prices so that your business is not losing money. Notify your customers about the discounts via emails, ads on your social media accounts or during in-person conversations.   

Sell Gift Cards 

Customers look for gift cards throughout the year. Especially now, where there are not many in-person celebrations, people congratulate or celebrate each other by mailing gifts. Gift card recipients tend to spend more — 72% of gift card recipients spend about 38% more than the value of their cards.  

Bundle Products 

Another popular tool to sell more products and services is product bundling. This is when several individual goods or services are sold to the customers as a combined package with the price for the package being lower than the sum of the individual items in the package. You may know the right mix for a bundle package from experience or you may need to do some research via customer surveys or direct calls. Try bundling less popular products with more popular ones, or newer products with existing or well-known products. Bundle your own products or consider partnering with other local businesses to offer something unique.

Host Online Workshops

You know a lot about your business. You have your own business insights which could be interesting to other business owners. Hosting a free educational event on the ins and outs of your industry could attract an audience of new customers who are interested in your product or service. Before organizing it, you may want to think about potential organizations to partner with: a public library, the Maine SBDC, Maine State Chamber, etc. They may help to bring exposure to and raise awareness of your brand.

Promote Your Most Profitable Products

You will always have some products/services that are more profitable then others. During slower seasons, selling higher-profit items can help. See what the market opportunities are and if there is demand for these products/services, then you can put extra effort into promoting the higher-margin items. If you need guidance on product pricing, check out our Pricing Your Products/Services eCourse or speak with a Maine SBDC business advisor!

Partner With Another Local Business Who Might be Busier

Partnering with another local business may attract new customers to your business. It is good to partner with a business that provides complimentary services. The partner may refer your business to its existing customers and then you might provide discounts to them. This broadens your audience while at the same time helping the partnering business build tighter connections and relationships with its existing customers. Just make sure you are purposeful with your partnerships, it should be mutually beneficial.

Ask Loyal Customers to Spread the Word

Don’t forget about your core loyal customers who already love your products and services! Satisfied customers are often willing to tell their friends about their experience with your business, they just need to be reminded to do so. According to Harvard Business Review customers who find businesses through word-of-mouth spend about 200% more than other customers. And, a 10% rise in word-of-mouth recommendations (on and offline) can increase sales by .2%-1.5%.  So connect with your core customers and ask them to refer you to others they think might appreciate your service or product. You may also offer a reward for referrals, such as a discount coupon or a gift card.

Whichever method you use to boost sales, do not forget to track the numbers to understand if the promotion worked well. If the promotion does not work, review the numbers, try and identify what went wrong and then think about trying something else. Following up with your customers to understand which promotional efforts have brought you the biggest sales can be helpful. And since you may want to use these same strategies during your next slower season, it will be useful to understand which methods worked best.