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An Entrepreneur’s Secrets on Dealing with Downtime

Use slow times to revisit marketing plans and drive sales upward.

At some point – and depending on your industry – your business may experience a slow season. While seasonal fluctuations can be frustrating, they present a great opportunity to train your team and revisit goals by reshaping your marketing plan. Here’s how to make the most out of this time and stay motivated by driving sales with new lead generation methods.

“When you’re not selling a lot, this is an opportunity to sit back and go, ‘OK, what are we going to change?’” says Rieva Lesonsky, co-founder of SmallBizDaily, a website dedicated to entrepreneurship and business. “‘What’s working, what’s not working. What’s new out there?’”

Marketing Plans for Lead Generation when Sales Are Slow

Before launching the site in 2008, Lesonsky served as senior vice president and editorial director of Entrepreneur magazine for 26 years. Both at the magazine and now with her own business, instead of giving into what feels like an inevitable slump after the holidays, she embraces slower periods as a time to prepare for busier times. Both she and Cathy Sexton, a productivity expert who runs her own consulting business (The Productivity Experts), offered these tips to keep energy up and weather the ebb and flow of business.

Offer training. “Employees are motivated when they’re asked to do more,” says Lesonsky. “Cross-train employees so they can learn what’s going on in another department.” This isn’t the time to let your team go into “slump mode,” Sexton adds. Exposing them to another part of the business gets them more invested in the business. Sexton schedules lunch-and-learn sessions and encourages her team to share how things are going. Creating a culture of open communication shows your staff that their input is valuable and it can give you some insight on how to do things differently.

Send out surveys and call your customers. Checking in with customers and clients when things are slow is incredibly valuable, says Sexton. Finding out more about them and their needs can spur development of new products and services and bolster business in the long run. You can offer them a coupon or gift card in exchange for completing the survey.

Measure and review goals. A common problem that small business owners face is not measuring return on investment, Lesonsky says. “This is the time to look at what you sold, what it costs you to sell, your actual cost of goods and cost of sale – and to create ways to improve those areas of your business.”

Brush up on industry news and innovation. When Lesonsky worked at Entrepreneur, every few weeks during quieter times she would ask her art director to go to the newsstand and buy every magazine that seemed interesting, inspiring or in their professional wheelhouse. Then, she and a small group would discuss what stood out to them, or inspired new ideas. “Think about involving [employees] in the process of ‘what should we do?’” says Lesonsky. “Have they read anything we should know about? You can have a meeting, but not the boring kind. You’re not assigning tasks, you’re just learning. ‘What do you see? What do you know? What’s changing?’”

Fundamentally, a seasonal slump can be an opportunity if energetic leaders approach it with open arms – and some savvy planning. “These are the times where you start asking yourself a lot of questions, and then start looking for the answers,” says Lesonsky.

Remember to Review Your Business Insurance Needs

Making your way through those periods of lean sales gives your staff a chance to shift focus and explore new ways to make sales. After you’ve spent some time exploring the ways your business can benefit from a little down time, contact your agent and request a policy review. Because, over time, your business insurance needs will change too. With updated coverage, you’ll have greater peace-of-mind knowing that your investments — and your employees — are well protected.

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Related Topics: Business Growth , Finance , Marketing , Digital