by Christina R. Green
Sales could always be better, right? Here are a few tips on how you can turn things around fast.
Are you dissatisfied with the number of customers that you have? No, this isn’t some sort of infomercial selling a sales technique. The number of customers you have, or lack thereof, may be directly attributable to something you are or aren’t doing, not because your business isn’t viable.
No blaming here. I’m simply saying there could be a quick resolution to getting you more customers. Here are a few ideas:
If your business hours are inconsistent or inconvenient, customers may not do business with you. This is true whether you are a brick and mortar store or you’re operating online. If they don’t know when you’re open or they can’t get in touch with you, the average person will go elsewhere.
You need to ensure your ideal audience knows when you’re open. But it’s also important that you are open when they need you to be. Think of this as a new way of personalizing your offerings to them. For instance, if you sell something that busy working parents need and it’s the type of object that they would come in and pick up on the way to school, you may be well served to open early. However, as convenient as those early hours are for working parents, if you don’t market them they won’t know that they can stop in at seven in the morning to pick up that last-minute item.
If it is difficult to find parking around your place of business people may decide not to do business with you. While circling a block for a parking space may not seem like a reason to forgo doing business with someone, when mega-retailers like Amazon can deliver something the same day (sometimes within two hours of placing the order) it is difficult to convince people that looking for a parking space is worth the effort.
Another factor that may be limiting your business is having to pay for parking. Some businesses with paid parking validate. A shopping area near Dallas took a cue from tech companies and has paid parking meters that use the pay what you think it’s worth idea. There are no tickets issued. Visitors just pay what they want. This type of creative parking brings in revenue without people feeling like they had to overpay.
The virtual side of paid parking is a slow website. A slow website is a deterrent to doing business with you online.
Again, what’s a little wait?
But to the customer who wants to get something done in a hurry, this is bothersome. Whether they are circling the block looking for a parking space or sitting on their phone waiting for your site to load, these situations detract from your offerings and make them want to go someplace where they can purchase goods or services faster.
Nobody Knows You
Marketing is essential to all businesses. However, the kind of marketing you use is important too. You need to market your business but you also need to encourage word of mouth marketing by your existing customers. That means making it easy for them to talk about you.
You can do this by asking for reviews, by creating QR codes that you place on business collaterals so people can scan them and be redirected to a popular review site, or you can send out an email campaign after someone purchases from you and ask they review you.
Another popular tactic is to listen to people talking about you online. When they do, thank them for mentioning you. Regardless of whether the comment is complimentary or critical, you should always thank them for their review. If there’s something that needs to be addressed do so in a semi-public way. For instance, if someone complains about your service, thank them for bringing it to your attention and ask how you may contact them to help remedy the situation. That way everyone who stumbles across the conversation can see you handled it without seeing the details of the solution.
Nobody Knows What You Do
Most of us have a personal and professional network. But you might be surprised by the percentage of those groups that don’t know exactly what you do. They may know that you have something to do with catering or they may know that you have some sort of store. But they may not know the details of what you do and who you best serve.
It is not bragging to talk about your business. You could be in a position to solve a problem for your network so you should make sure they know what you specialize in.
It can be hard to talk about yourself. If it feels that way, show your network what you do. For instance, consider sponsoring an event for a group you are involved with like your child’s sports team, the PTA, the Chamber of Commerce, or a community event. By doing so, you are bringing attention to what it is that you do and you’re showing that you care about your community. People want to do business with those they know, like, and trust. These types of local sponsorships are a good way of establishing those success measures.
Do you provide something of value to your ideal customer? Are you giving them a product or service that is different than the competition? For example, some stores offer childcare while the parents browse. Several grocery stores offer a free snack for children as their parents shop.
These types of examples help solve a problem for their ideal customer–parents of screaming children can’t shop. Providing childcare or a snack is a small price to pay for their ideal customer to be able to spend some money in the store. These types of benefits bring their ideal customers into their store even if their prices are slightly higher than the competition because these stores do something to make their ideal customers’ lives easier and solve a problem (what to do with the kids when you need to shop). What can you do for your customers that makes your business invaluable to them?
If you’re unhappy with the number of customers you currently have you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars in advertising to remedy this. In today’s market that may not even be the most effective way to reach your audience. Instead, look for reasons why they may not currently be doing business with you.
Most businesses’ initial reaction to a slump in sales is to lower prices. However, if you do something that no one else does for them (and that they need or like), price becomes less of a factor. Before you lower your price, see if these easy adjustments don’t help you increase the number of customers you have.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, Event Managers Blog, and WritersWeekly. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com.