Education

Six ideas to drum up business and cut costs at the start of the year

11 Feb 2022

Once the Christmas and New Year rush is over, many businesses enter a lean period that can last until Spring. Lots of us overspend at the end of the year, so it’s not surprising that customers wait until their finances are back on track and under control before spending on non-essentials or luxuries. It’s not just retail businesses that can suffer in this lean time; service industries also experience a lack of orders, particularly B2C service businesses who rely on consumers digging into their pockets to pay for installations or perhaps building work on a house. But here’s the good news, you don’t have to sit there and wait for the customers to come through the front door, to call or fill in your online enquiry forms. With a bit of imagination, some basic techniques and graft, you can quickly get proactive and drum up business. So, let’s get creative and look at your options.

Sales can be all year round

Many businesses make the mistake of thinking sales must get tied to a seasonal event. It’s your business; you can have a sales promotion any time you want, and it only needs a snappy title and a bit of imagination to put in place. 

Do you ever get those “payday” emails from retailers? These monthly initiatives concentrate on bargains to tempt consumers the day they get paid. The thinking is crude; “get them to spend with us before they run out of cash”.

We’ve all experienced that “too much month at the end of the money” phenomenon. But payday sales can be a win-win if your clients need something you’re selling or get tempted by a bargain. So why not consider what sales initiatives to promote? Here are a few examples and suggestions.

  • Can you offer a “dad and lad” discount for haircuts or suggest a seasonal restyle at a discounted rate?

  • Can you print out or email discount vouchers for early new year birds to cash in later if they spend with you now?

  • Can you serve two hot drinks for the price of one in the colder months?

  • Can you use a seasonal discount to close your client on building work at their home if they commit today and the work starts this month?

Put the Pareto principle to work

Numerous studies have concluded that 80% of business comes from 20% of customers. This basic interpretation of the Pareto Principle mightn’t be relevant to all businesses, but it’s a valuable concept to consider and maybe put into practice.

Your loyal clients are likely to order from you again or recommend you. Can you contact them to ask how they are, when you’ll see them again, or ask if they could recommend any friends or family? You can quickly and cheaply compile an email to cover these points.

The critical point is this; it’s probably best to concentrate on where you’re more likely to get a positive response during the lean times rather than casting your net wider to catch new business. You want the orders in over the next few weeks, and longer-term marketing strategies can wait.

However, if this process works, it can form part of the foundations of your bigger marketing plans later in the year.

Promotions often work best when you have time on your hands

There is nothing to gain from worrying or scratching your head if the orders and customers aren’t coming in. It’s time to work on the various cost-effective promotional strategies you can use to raise awareness and improve turnover.

You must remain positive and use your spare time effectively. You have the ideal opportunity to research and develop new online skills. 

For example, if you have a basic website package hosted by one of the leading domain registrars, the platform might allow you to create an introductory email to send to your database of clients.

You might have an email facility as part of your package if you’re paying monthly hosting fees. Think how quickly you could reach out to your client base to generate new business during quiet times.

Let’s say you have 2,000 clients listed in your database, imagine if you only get a 2% response rate leading to a sale. That’s 40 sales you wouldn’t have had, and the cost of generating the response through email is as low as it gets.

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Get social media savvy and active

We can be guilty of taking social media resources for granted and not using them to their full potential. Expanding on the spare time mentioned earlier to develop new skills and reach out to clients should extend to social media use.

For instance, if you’re a restaurant that’s just created a new dish, why not take some perfect images and tweet them to your followers with a discount if they book in response to the tweet and retweet it? Instagram is ideal for this image led promotion too. Use Facebook to change your headline image to the new dish.

Or, if you’re a builder or central heating installer, why not take some photos of the process from start to finish? Share the stories with quotes from satisfied clients and ask your followers to share and like the updates. Again, these are no-cost initiatives that begin engagement with your clients.

It’s important to note that if you’re going to be active on social media, it’s essential to stay consistently active. A lack of contact or activity can be associated with a failing business.

Spend money on marketing and advertising while rates are cheap

During the first quarter of the year, your industry is not alone in suffering a lack of sales and orders; most industries will feel the pinch. So, today might be the perfect opportunity to negotiate with agencies to buy yearly exposure, including buying ad space on social media resources.

Buying ad space can be a short-term cost that creates long term gains. If you need to consider borrowing, many lenders will consider helping finance a marketing and advertising initiative.

Analyse your costs and complete an internal audit; where can you make cuts?

The first quarter of the new year may require financial cuts for your business to break even and remain viable. You need to be proactive and face up to this challenge.

You might have to make some tough decisions regarding staffing levels, and you may have to temporarily shrink your spending across the wide range of services and goods you buy each month.

You could begin to evaluate your gas and heating bills. Why not begin a comparison to see what’s available if your current energy contracts have ended? 

The quicker you grasp the thorns and complete an internal audit on all your business spending to eliminate waste, the better it is. During the course of your examination, you might discover some available cutbacks that escaped your attention previously.

Finally, after introducing modest cost cuts across the business and fresh marketing and advertising drives, you might discover that it’s time to reorganise the finances through loans.

For instance, you might want to consider a short-term overdraft to tide you over a short trading period.

Whatever your funding requirements, we have the options you need. Our dedicated team of business finance experts are always on hand to discuss your situation. Click here to begin the dialogue.

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