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The holiday season isn’t just exciting for little kids – for many businesses it’s the busiest, most profitable time of the year. Just a few days later, January starts and it’s often bleak, cold and grey – that is, when a lack of sales aren’t pushing you into the red. Below you’ll find some of our top tips to help you sail through the January slump.
We say this a lot, but that’s because it’s truly essential. Internet marketing, social media and your own website provide you with plenty of data to analyse so if you’re not doing the bear minimum, it will cost you dear. If nothing else, find out which social networks your target demographic are most likely to use (and don’t guess!); check that your PPC advertising and sponsored posts are providing a reasonable ROI; and make sure that the pages for your business are all in your control (claim your Twitter handle, even if you don’t use it, your Google Business page and so on).
The January sales are a British national institution. If they were a building, they’d be owned by the National Trust – even Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple mentions visiting sales, elbows out for some new glass cloths. This means that the entire country is primed to look for bargains in January, making it an excellent bandwagon to jump on. Choose your offers carefully as you will be in competition with the larger firms, some of which have been see-sawing prices since Black Friday.
Spreading the workload can be an issue for small and medium sized businesses. If you’re expecting a quiet February after a frantic December, make your January sales offerings do double duty by booking in customers to receive their goods or services later in the year. Now is an excellent time to start taking orders for Valentine’s Day, for example. One way to frame it, if you know your audience, is to offer to ‘help get a job done early’. Rather than hunting for a gift at last minute, wouldn’t your customers feel better knowing their carefully selected gift would be delivered at the right time, and for less than they’d usually pay, if only they gave you money in January?
If Dry January is making your customers switch from wine to water, why not launch a range of detox (possibly virgin) cocktails? Or invite your local running club to finish their after-work jog with a healthy meal at your restaurant? Local charities will also appreciate support at this time of year, as they also experience a slump after the goodwill overdrive of the festive season. The most common resolutions include: to exercise more; lose weight; eat more healthily; learn a new skill or hobby; and quit smoking. Social media will be buzzing on these topics throughout January, so if any of them are relevant to your business, make it a cornerstone of your internet marketing strategy.
Conventional marketing wisdom suggests you may have to present your pitch up to 20 times to a cold contact before they buy. In the age of instant gratification, we’re all hoping for the customer who lingers long enough to read the product description before automatically inputting their credit card details, but the truth is that in many industries the sales process begins long before the customer visits your website, and takes more than one visit. A quiet January is the ideal time for improving your sales funnel and building your reputation with existing and potential customers. Aim to move a lot of your clients a few steps further towards a sale, particularly if you offer a service which is rarely an impulse buy, and you’ll reap the rewards later on even if January remains quiet.
December tends to be a social whirl, with many people focussing on treating everyone they know well while neglecting themselves. Help them reverse the trend by encouraging them to come to you for a bit of rest and relaxation, a touch of pampering, or a treat. Using targeted voucher codes you can reward loyal customers or while encouraging them to browse for their next big purchase or refer a friend. Focussing on encouraging word of mouth recommendations from existing customers is a great way to build your business base while also tackling a slump. In internet marketing terms, word of mouth can include Twitter retweets, Facebook shares and other social media connections.
The tips above are designed to provide a short-term internet marketing boost to help you get your business through a temporary downturn. If your business – or your industry, or your region – regularly experiences a lull in January, then it’s important to ask yourself if you really need to worry. For many businesses, having a chance to step back, take stock of their situation (and, you know, literally do stock taking) can be very valuable. It might seem counter-intuitive, but if January (or February, or August) is naturally a quiet point in your year, then focussing on employee training and morale, on-boarding new hires and reassessing your existing processes could be a great use of your time. We’re not going to sugar coat it though: your internet marketing strategy should be one of the things you consider, as it’s essential in this digital age. If you think it’s time for some fresh ideas, the boxChilli team are on hand to take your call.