Have sales been slow? Does your business seem as though it has been in a down-turn? It happens to every business. Running your own business is like taking a roller coaster ride — there are always ups and downs. Sometimes it seems as though things will never pick-up. And, sometimes, they never do. So, what can you do to ensure that the slump your business is currently in is only temporary? Well, there’s a number of effective methods that have been utilized by business owners since time immemorial. What you shouldn’t do, however, is just keep doing things as you have been doing them and hope that things will magically turn around for you. Sometimes they will, yes. But, a successful business owner NEVER counts on it. A successfully business owner ALWAYS gets proactive and works intelligently and effectively to make sure things turn-around in their favor! They put in effort to make sure that this latest dip in the roller coaster ride isn’t the end of the ride itself.
Here’s some tried and tested methods that you can put into action right now:
Take some time out, sit down, and create a short-term marketing plan for increasing sales. Do it as soon as you finish reading this article. Grab yourself a pen and paper, sit down alone, and work it out. I’m not talking about a long-term plan that focuses on the coming year or longer — I mean work out a marketing plan of what you can do over the next week to increase your visibility and increase sales. Think about the immediate future. Very often, when sales are in a slump, it is at least in part due to the fact that you’re not being as active as you should be in your promotions. Putting some effort into thinking up effective ways of becoming more active, and following through with those efforts can sometimes go a long way into motivating you and getting you working to increase sales. Try to figure out four simple strategies or plans of action that you can spend a small amount of time each day putting into practice.
Then, of course, pick one of your four strategies and put it into action. Concentrate on spending time on just one of them each day for the next week. Then, work on implementing the second in the following week, the third the week after that, and finally, the fourth in the last week. Be sure track your efforts and any results you may achieve as closely and as meticulously as you can. At the end of thirty days you should have a pretty good idea of what your most effective strategy was. Spend the following month concentrating on what was effective. If none were particularly effective, go back and start over with four new plans.
When you do find a short-term marketing strategy that works well, log that one as a keeper. Then, go back and figure out three new ones. Test those results and, again, pick what works best. You can do this as many times as you wish — the goal is to find the most effective strategy or strategies. Once you’ve located something that works, you’ll have the confidence to devote your time to putting it into action, and the confidence to invest money into putting into action if need be, knowing that your investments have a high probability of paying off.
Here are some things you can try:
1) Spend some time on targeted internet message forums. Find an internet message forum that has something to do with your product or service. If you sell widgets, for example, search Google™ for forums where widget collectors hang out and discuss collecting widgets — you get the idea. Try to spend at least an hour a day talking to people on these forums. Don’t spam the forums with ads for your product — that will usually just get you banned from the forum. Instead, actually engage people in real conversations. Actually become an active member of that on-line community. If people are asking questions that you can answer, answer them! Contribute to the conversation. But, DON’T come off as if you’re just there to promote your product or service. Most forums allow you to add a “sig” to your posts. Simply put an unobtrusive link to your website in that sig. If you’ve targeted the forum properly, and you’re active on the forum with posts that people find valuable, you WILL get hits without pushing your product or service — and hits from HIGHLY targeted and motivated visitors.
2) If you don’t have a subscription newsletter START ONE! If you do have one, now is the time to figure out a way to increase your subscriptions. Do a search on Google™ for companies offering to sell PLR (private label rights) products. There’s a great one here: http://master-resale-rights.com That I often use, but, you should be able to find a few of them. Try to find a PLR product that your target market would find valuable — An e-book, a piece of software, a video series. Just make sure it has a reasonable level of perceived value. Often you can find such products for very little money — sometimes even just four or five dollars, or even less! Make up an offer to give this product away for free to anyone who signs-up for your newsletter. Make sure to make your offer time sensitive! Let’s say you sell widgets, and you’ve got a bi-monthly e-newsletter you send out. Let’s also say that you’ve located a company that will sell you the private label rights to the “Proper Care and Feeding of your Widget” video series. Put up an offer giving away this FREE video series to anyone who signs-up for your newsletter by the end of the month. Make sure that it’s clear to them if they don’t sign-up by the end of the month they will not receive the FREE video series.
3) Buy a targeted mailing list and send out postcards! Have some custom postcards made for your business and send them out to targeted addresses! Companies such as VistaPrint will make up custom postcards for you relatively inexpensively. And, you can use their on-line tools to completely and easily design a custom post-card. Remember: This is a test strategy you’re doing. You don’t need very many. If your test proves that such a strategy works for your business, you can roll out a bigger post-card promotion any time with the confidence of knowing before hand that you’ll get results. Look to send your test mailing out to perhaps two or three hundred addresses. If you pull good results, you can later roll out a mailing to two or three thousand! Companies like DirectMail.Com can provide you with targeted direct-mail lists. But, if you search the internet, you should be able to easily locate many such companies.
4) Design a new funnel-page for your product or service. If you don’t already have it, go here, and get yourself some inexpensive, quality web-hosting. Design a simple, SEO friendly, single paged website to funnel visitors to your product or service’s main page. Put some effort into optimizing the page for search engines. Next, go here, and sign-up. Spend about 20 minutes each day using that service to get the ball rolling in driving some hits to your site. Also, make sure to submit your new site to directories and search engines.
5) Develop two or three new, simple ads for your product or service. Purchase ad space for your new ads on targeted websites and/or e-zines. Track these ads carefully and see how they work.
6) Write an article having to do with your product or service. The article shouldn’t be a sales pitch — it should be an informative article having to do with subject matter related to the specific nature of your product or service, or be of interest to people who would likely buy your product or service. Once you’ve completed your article, search the Internet for blogs that are targeted to your product or service and e-mail the blog owners offering to let them publish the article on their blogs if they keep your by-line (which contains a short blurb about you, your product/service, and a link to your sales material) Do the same with targeted e-zines and article directories.
See if you can’t come up with some other simple strategies on your own. The possibilities are almost endless. There are e-mail “safe-lists” out there that you could submit to, “top-sites” traffic exchange programs… the list goes on and on. The idea is to think of things that you can put into play easily over the next week. Get four of them, then spend a week doing each — spend some time every day putting them into practice. At the end of thirty days you should have a pretty good idea regarding what works and what doesn’t. Once you do, you can concentrate your efforts on that. If the postcard campaign worked – Buy a bigger mailing list, get more cards made, and roll out a post-card mailing assault. But, if the post-card thing was a miss, but one of your ads in a particular e-zine saw a good return, buy a bigger space in that e-zine, and/or roll out your ad to many other similar e-zines.
The idea is, when sales are slow, you get active. You find ways to get the roller-coaster out of that valley and back up to a peak. Very often, your business is in a slump because YOU’RE in a slump — you’re doing the same old things over and over. It gets to be routine and boring, and without even realizing it, you’re actually not putting in the effort that you once were — even though it feels like you are. Make an effort to think up new plans of attack. If you come up with, and put into action, new and fresh approaches, it will feel like you’re putting in half the work for twice the results and you’ll get and stay active in promoting your business. And, very often, that’s exactly what’s needed to pull your business out of the sales rut it’s in.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dustin Ward has almost twenty years of marketing and product development experience, with more than fifteen years of Internet marketing experience. He has authored a number of books and has published hundreds of articles. He is currently a featured contributor at: Http://Blog.EarningInternetIncome.Com which features daily insider marketing and money-making tips and a host of valuable resources for anyone who’s interested in earning income from the internet or running a home business.
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