Slow times give you the perfect opportunity to grow your small business.
Even if you have been marketing your small businesses for years, I’m certain you will find a few new ideas you haven’t thought of before. Pick out a few ideas from the list below, the ones you think will give you the most bang for your buck, and get working. Slow times are a great time to grow your business!
Pin or bookmark this list and any time you’re sitting around with “nothing to do”, or you’re wondering how you can grow your business, refer back to this list. My tips will get your small business back on the right track to have a stellar year and make more money.
1. Round up some testimonials from your favorite clients.
Send out a friendly email to your favorite customers asking them for reviews, or search your business name and Twitter handle using Twitter Search, and see what people have been saying about you.
Did you know that you can embed any tweet in your website? Simply click “More” on the Tweet you want to embed, then select “Embed Tweet”. Copy the code that pops up and place it on your Praise or Testimonial page of your website. Just like that you’ll have some instant and irrefutable praise for your business.
2. Revamp your website a little.
Is it time for an updated sidebar, new buttons, or a different layout? Do you need to add more valuable links within your posts to direct your visitors to additional helpful content within your own site, and other sources around the web? Does your website/blog include a sales marketing strategy? All of this will help you market your products like a pro.
3. Write an actual business plan.
Be honest now, did you actually ever write a business plan? No? Just do it now. Even if it’s only a few pages long. Every successful business owner needs to have a plan in order to evaluate the odds of success.
4. Get yourself a good book on business, social media, etc.
Any time is a great time to sit back, relax and read a book or toe. This year instead of only reading romance novels or the latest thriller, add a few educational books as well.
5. Host a giveaway for your business.
Nick runs a giveaway every Holiday season for his bottle crafting community. Why not have one in the middle of summer, in the fall, or when the mood strikes you, and promote the heck out of it. It could be a free consultation, an email-delivered gift card to Amazon, or a small product or service you offer. Just have fun with it!
6. Organize the files on your computer.
I try to stay organized by saving files in the appropriate folders, but even I need to re-organize from time to time. Clear the clutter on your computer and the home screen and it will help you stay focused. My home screen (screenshot below) only holds short cuts to the programs I use most often and an empty garbage can. Everything else is stored away in the most logical folder for it.
Keeping my computer desk top uncluttered is important to me.
7. Make a wishlist for big ticket items.
It helps to make a financial plan to save up for that next big item (camera, laptop, software) you need for your business. Nick and I are at the moment saving up for a new Canon camera and wide angle lens. It always surprises me what we’re capable of financially when we plan ahead and save up for it.
8. Check your Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools.
Find out which posts and pages are your most popular and write more content about this information. Are there any pages with an extremely high exit rate/bounce rate? Try to figure out why and fix the problem.
If you haven’t already, now is a good time to start taking advantage of everything Google has to offer from understanding Webmaster Tools to Google Analytics.
9. Audit your blog posts.
Check your blog posts and website pages to make sure all of your links still work properly. Check that all your images are displaying correctly and that all the information you share is still relevant and up to date. Add new information when necessary, and do everything you can to continually make your blog content awesome.
10. Optimize for search engines.
Make sure all your posts and pages are optimized for search engines. If you use WordPress, check out ‘All In One SEO’ a free search engine optimization plugin. On page SEO so your website will get more search engine traffic is not that difficult as long as you know the basics.
11. Become a researcher for a while.
Find the top three blogs in your industry you can learn from. Or, find your favorite 10 blog posts about a certain topic and share the links to them from a new blog post on your site. Explain in your own words why you think your readers would benefit from them.
12. Volunteer to a charity, business, or random organization.
It will be good for the world, good for your portfolio, and good for you to keep working and staying busy. You will most likely be able to make new connections and maybe even new friends. Consider making a few hours of pro-bono work a giveaway that people can nominate themselves or a friend to win.
13. Get some new photos.
Freshen up your marketing with some new photos of yourself, your products, your office, your people at work, or your customers enjoying your awesome products. Stunning images can make the difference between a sale and getting lost among your competitors. Have you noticed that you’re way more excited about promoting something when you have an awesome image of it? Hire a professional photographer or learn a few product photography tricks.
14. Make new social media cover photos.
Use a free tool such as Canva, Pixlr.com, or PicMonkey to make your new graphics. I change my cover photos about every season or when I come across a great image that begs to be shared in a special way. Twitter cover photo dimensions: 1500 x 500 pixels; Facebook cover photo dimensions: 851 x 315 pixels.
15. Find a peer group.
Look for people you are comfortable with so you can talk about your business ideas. Find people who can encourage you, people who understand you and who live a similar small business lifestyle. Look at your network of friends, check out online communities and blogs. Try to talk with your peer group once a month or once per quarter, often enough to keep you on going when things get difficult.
16. Create free resources.
Everyone loves a freebie. Creating a few free helpful resources that your visitors will love you for doesn’t have to take up a whole lot of your time or cost a ton of money. You can use an online program like Visme to create interactive info-graphics and online presentations. If you end up with a bunch of great ideas for free resources or downloads, create a Resources or Reviews page to delight and help your customers.
17. Revamp your email marketing.
Setting up a bunch of follow-up emails isn’t a one time thing. I know it takes time to create follow ups, but your marketing message will probably change over time and so should your follow up messages. Keep your emails fresh and create outside-the-inbox email marketing campaigns that keep your audience coming back for more.
18. Create some standard reply emails.
You probably get a bunch of emails asking the same questions over and over. Create some standard replies (saved in your drafts folder) you can quickly personalize whenever a potential client emails you. Maybe your emails should contain a link or downloads of the awesome free resources you made in #16.
19. Write out your project/client workflow.
Create a flow chart from the moment a client contacts you to the moment you deliver their goods or services. What should happen? How will you manage the project, how long should your client wait between steps, and so on.
Write out the whole process to ensure it flows and then try to follow the same steps each time. This will help you to not miss anything and will make sure that each client gets the same high quality experience from you.
20. Show your picture on all your blog comments.
Create a professional avatar if you run a WordPress site or blog. It’s easy to do with only a few steps, visit Gravatar.com to get started. An avatar is great for branding purposes, and if you are the owner of a blog then it makes your comments and replies much more personal and real for your readers.
21. Get new printed materials.
Have you made any changes to your logo, website url, social media profiles or address lately? Don’t forget to get new printed marketing materials. We just ordered new business cards for our Care Taking Specialists business last week.
Print marketing is still a great way to reach potential customers in your local area and other geographical markets. Traditional brochures and business cards printed professionally by Vista Print are a good choice for price and overall value. If you want to look like a big company and make a great first impression, it is better to spring for the premium business cards rather than the free designs.
22. Try a different style of writing.
Plan out your next blog post and try a style of post you’ve never written before. You do have a blog, right? If you’re at a loss for what type of post to create, try one of these 51 types of blog posts.
23. Identify areas to save money.
Can you give up cable TV for a while? Find a less expensive phone plan? How about looking for cheaper car insurance rates online? Try to live without buying Starbucks drinks on a regular basis and make coffee at home. Nick and I bought an inexpensive Espresso machine several years ago and have saved a ton of money since.
24. Do something creative.
Do something that is not directly related to your business to get your creative juices flowing. Paint a watercolor, write a short story, blog about something that’s entertaining to you instead of what’s important to your customers, cook an awesome home made meal, take a photography class, etc.
25. Revamp your marketing materials.
Take a close look at any and all of your marketing materials and find out if they would benefit from a change. It’s a good idea to do this before you go ahead with #21. Design the new marketing materials yourself, barter with a local designer friend, hire a professional designer, or use a site like 99designs.com for inexpensive work.
26. Stay ahead with social media.
Upload your Buffer queue or HootSuite account with one tweet each month for every blog post or free resource you have on your website. It’s so much easier when you have some spare time, instead of trying to remember a post you wrote a year ago when you’re looking for something to tweet. It’s easy to forget about social media when you’re busy making sales.
27. Create useful content you can sell.
Passive income is the life! Writing a whole book or creating an online course sounds intimidating, but when you plan it out chapter by chapter and pace yourself, you can share your helpful knowledge with the world. Most likely you already have a ton of content on your site that you can organize into a book. It took me about nine months (or the time it takes to grow a baby) to write the Craft Marketing Book By Silke Jager. Just remember, if you never start you will never get it done.
A quick favor: Please share this post with other business owners or freelancers, so that they can be inspired during lulls in their business as well. Thanks!
Do you have any small business tips you would like to share? Tell us about them in the comments below.