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Beating Late Summer Sales Blues August 14, 2007

Posted by David Dirks in Building Foot Traffic, Buzz Marketing: Lowest Cost/Highest Payoff, Sales Tactics.
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dirksphoto.jpgMy local paper took a poll of business owners in the area recently. Their question was: Is your business’s revenues up from last summer? Nearly 73.7% responded saying that no, their sales were NOT up from last summer. About 26.3% said their sales this summer where up. Ok, it might not be the most scientific poll but it is telling. The majority of responders noted their sales were down this summer.

My question: What are you doing about it? That would have been a great follow-up question. How many would have said nothing, “just the status quo you know”? How many would have said, “well, I had a sale and it didn’t help”?

Business slumps will happen but the Big Dogz deal with it and attack it. There are no “easy” answers here. But there are a few questions that you can ask yourself to help you beat the late summer sales blues. The road to recovery is not far off.

For the retailer:

• What can I do to DRIVE traffic to my store? How about creating an “event”…something that creates excitement within your community. What event can I create that becomes the driver for a public relations campaign? Can I create an event that will appeal the larger community and get the local media involved?

• What can I do to move merchandise that isn’t turning over fast enough to create revenue and profits? You can have a sale but that’s boring and reaches only as far as your local marketing and advertising efforts will go.

My suggestion: Sell to the world instead of your neighborhood alone. If you’re local market won’t buy some of the stuff you stocked, then sell it on a site that can offer it to the world. Ebay comes to mind as a great way to move merchandise (in almost any season by the way). The big dogz have long figured out how to keep sales moving by employing other ways to keep the cash coming in…EBay is a key element to that and very cost effective.

• Have I reached out to all my regular customers and given them a reason to come into my store? A special customer discount perhaps? One that encourages them to buy what they have bought from you before? Encourages them to purchase more during this “special offer”. You do have detailed information on what your best customers buy right? You have their email address? Their mailing address? Let’s hope you do because now is the time to put that information to the test and make it work. If you don’t, this is a good time to start collecting that information.

Note: For more information on the above, check my postings on March 26, 2007: Harnessing the Potential of your Customers-Pt 1; April 7, 2007: 3×5 Customers; and April 9, 2007: 3×5 Customer Information: Basics

For the service provider, the questions are more around your existing customer base:

• What can I do to DRIVE more service business to NEW customers? Have you ask an existing customer for three referrals? I’ve been in sales and marketing for a long time now and I can tell you that most people DO NOT do what is obvious: ask for a referral from a customer right after you perform the service. And I don’t mean just hand out your business cards willy-nilly in the hopes that they might by chance fall into the hands of a new customer and not the garbage can (I’m betting on the garbage can). What I am telling you is to ask for NAMES. Nine times out of ten, most people are more than happy to give you the name of a friend who might use your service too. But you have to ASK!

• What are you doing every week…. month…quarter…to engage your regular customers? Do you have a newsletter packed with valuable information for them? Are you offering them special discounts to come back again? Can you contact them? You have that information, right?

• What services can you add that would be a natural extension of your current service packages? Are there any seasonal opportunities? If you do extend your service packages, just make sure it is a natural extension (makes some sense based on the services you currently offer), has some immediate demand level, and has a profitable rate of return.

• My comments to the retailer apply here too.

Summertime sales blues? Bah humbug. Oh…that’s a different season or is it?

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