There come times in all businesses when things slow down, revenues drop, and customers don’t seem too keen on buying more goods from you. Thankfully, such phases are just that – phases – and they change for the better sooner or later.
As a business owner, there are a number of things that you can do to push the cycle from a downswing to an upswing with a little bit of imagination and a lot of persistence. Here are some time tested tactics that will help you turn the tide and get your business back to busier, more profitable times.
If nothing else, the one thing that is in your control about your business is the price at which you sell. Instead of going the boring route of pricing your products by simply adding a margin to your total cost; get a little creative with your pricing to attract customers’ attention and tempt them to buy more.
a. One-day sales
Pick a specific high margin product category and discount it deeper than you normally would. Announce that you will be having a one-day sale for this product category and promote it heavily across your store, local media, email newsletters, direct mail inserts and so on.
Often people stock up on products that carry a very deep discount even if they don’t need to use such items immediately. By limiting the discount period for just one day, you are creating a sense of urgency and playing on users’ fear of missing out (or FOMO, as it is now called).
Getting anything for free has a unique charm to it that a mere discount cannot match. Use the Buy One, Get One free tactic with items that have very different margins. By keeping a high value, low margin product at full price and bundling it with a high margin product for a BOGO offer, you’re protecting your margins while simultaneously playing into the users’ psychology of jumping for a free product.
Another approach is a Buy One, Get One half off. Here, a user sees the offer as a 50% discount on an item, which is a fantastic deal by most standards. However, in reality, all you are offering is a 25% discount on the two items put together.
Falling back on coupons to gain a quick sales boost is a time tested tactic. In 2013 alone, US shoppers redeemed $2.8 billion worth of coupons. This number shows us that given the option, there’s a huge market out there that will gladly use a coupon to save some extra cash. What really matters is ensuring that you target the right media for promoting your coupons. In 2013, 91% of all coupons were distributed through Free Standing Inserts (FSIs); while only 50% of redemptions happened through FSIs.
Build a larger bundle and offer deals on it
Advertising value discounts on high priced items makes users feel that they are getting a great deal, as compared to giving percentage discounts. For example, $100 off on $500 seems like a great deal, but saying 20% off on $500 does not seem all that attractive.
Promote higher value items and offer value discounts on them. This works in two ways. It makes the user think they’re getting a better deal than if you expressed the discount in percentage figures and it gets you a higher revenues by selling a higher priced item or bundle of items than just a single low priced item.
Partnering with a non-competing brand is a great way to reach out to new customers. Create special offers on your products especially for customers of your partner brands and use their promotion platforms to reach out to their customers. As a quid pro quo, offer the same benefits to your brand partner. That way, you gain access to a new customer base and entice them with a great deal, while your existing customers get an awesome deal on the products and services offered by your brand partners. A win-win situation all around!
Deep discounts to specific customer groups
Kill two birds with one stone. By offering special offers and deep discounts to closed user groups like your Facebook fans or your email subscribers, you create a need to belong among your users.
The deals and offers encourage more users to sign up and you get a higher uptake for your offers while simultaneously growing your mailing list or your Facebook fan base with people signing up to take advantage of your offer.
Target abandoned shopping carts
According to research by the Baymard Institute, about 67% of all shopping carts online are abandoned for one reason or another. Users who arrived on your site, browsed through your products, even chose one of them clearly saw something interesting about your brand and products to begin with. Whatever their reason for abandoning their purchase midway maybe, you can always tempt them to come back and complete the transaction with a timely abandoned cart win back email.
Typically such an email contains the item that was left ‘abandoned’ in the user’s cart along with a gentle reminder to complete the purchase. In the event of no response to the first email, a follow up email with a special discount will definitely nudge the most tightfisted buyers to complete their transaction and make a purchase.
People tend to form friendships and close relationships with other people who share similar tastes, interests and overall demographic profiles as themselves. If that is the case, the friends and family of your existing users are a goldmine of customers waiting to be tapped.
Offer special incentives to your customers for referring their friends to your service. Also offer a one-time sign-up bonus for the friend who joins you through a referral to sweeten the deal for both parties.
Repeat user offers
By now, we all know that it is WAY cheaper to retain and cultivate existing customers than to attract and convert new users into customers. Tap into your existing pool of repeat customers and offer them special deals for newer purchases.
Offers like ‘Get $X off on your next purchase’ push customers towards that next purchase a little sooner than they would have planned otherwise. Another option is to have offers that kick in on making cumulative purchases. For example, offering a completely free product when a customer turns in three used wrappers of your product is a great way on ensuring three purchases and offering a worthwhile gift in return to the customer.
Rewarding repeat purchases on a consistent basis tells users that you value their loyalty and often costs a lot lesser than what you would spend on marketing to brand new customers.
Social media activities tied to a purchase
Most brands carry out contests and interactions on social media to encourage engagement with users and build buzz. Unfortunately, most of these contests have very little to do with making a purchase.
Change that during tough times, by building contests that revolve around a purchase. The 2013 Share a Coke campaign was a clever way of making customers buy Coke cans with their names on them and asking them to share the pictures on social media. It got Coke some great engagement, brilliant buzz and amounted to being one of Coke’s most successful promotions (in revenue terms) in recent times.
You don’t have to have a huge multimedia campaign and pockets as deep as Coke to do something like this. All it needs is a great idea that resonates with your brand and its users, and you’re all set!
Promote your offers everywhere possible
As a business owner, your goal ought to be to provide maximum exposure to your business and brand. Self-promotion may not be something that you live by in your personal life, but it’s a necessary survival skill in the big bad world of business.
All the smart offers and coupons and discounts that you conjure up deserve to be seen by as many potential users as possible to maximize sales. Enable this by inserting your offers and deals on any available free medium around you. A coupon on your receipt or purchase confirmation email, a free sample with your delivery slip, a special offer on your thank you page or tear-away coupons pinned to community notice boards at your local library, supermarket or even Laundromat.
Upsell your products
Another great way of bumping up your revenues is by promoting your more expensive products instead of focusing your cheapest ones. People may be buying the cheapest version of your product out of sheer ignorance. Educate them about a better product out there, tempt them to buy it by offering a special deal on it. Keep in mind though that the expensive items you promote are not entirely out of the user’s league. Now that would be a surefire way of losing a willing customer.
Promoting an expensive product alongside a mid-priced one has another benefit – it makes the mid-priced product look a lot cheaper psychologically than it really is. This is a good way of promoting sales for the mid-priced products.
Break down your price
A lot of sales never happen because users often get scared away by the price tag of your products. While bringing down the price of your products may not be possible always, you can definitely work on the perception of price that your users have in their minds.
Break down your product price from an absolute value to a per unit price. A line like “Insurance that costs you just 50 cents a day!” sounds a lot more attractive than “Premiums as low as $180 a year” and breaks the perception that an annual plan will be unaffordable at this point in time.
Growing sales in a tight market is not easy. Every player in the business is up to his best tricks to pull his business out of the rut and you’re just one in a crowd of millions.
However, that does not mean that sales growth only happens in prosperous times. There are opportunities aplenty if only you’re willing to get a little creative with your selling and marketing.