9 productive ways to spend your time when business is slow
When your business starts slowing down, it can be immensely worrying. Whenever this happens (and it happens to everyone) remember to take a deep breath, think rationally, and start planning.
24 June 2020 · 7 min read
When your business starts slowing down, it can be immensely worrying. It’s hard not to feel like you’re failing, which is completely demoralizing and can have real consequences. Whenever this happens (and it happens to everyone) remember to take a deep breath, think rationally, and start planning.
More often than not, a slowdown is temporary. It’s usually the result of some unexpected change in seasons, market expectations, or competition, which will require you to adapt or simply wait out the slow period. Right now, most businesses are emerging from or still experiencing a slowdown due to Covid-19.
Sometimes a slowdown is caused by getting too comfortable and not searching for new areas of growth. At times we go through the motions without investing in or revitalizing our brand. Perhaps your website hasn’t been updated in a few years, or maybe your business has simply been less proactive than usual.
How to speed things back up when business is slow
Being active in your business can be stressful and exhausting, making settling into a rut all the more tempting. However, this can lead to your business dropping off. To get things back up to speed, you’ll need to reinvigorate your business, processes, and marketing to reestablish yourself as a fresh, exciting business to work with. Here are some proven ways to achieve this.
Improve your website’s SEO
One of the best ways to speed things back up when your business is running slow is to invest in search engine optimization. SEO is one of the most important and cost-effective ways to grow your sales in today’s world, and it’s also one of the easiest areas of your marketing to neglect.
The most popular way to revitalize your SEO is to post new content, like articles, blog posts, landing pages, and guides that will help your business climb the ranks in Google’s search results. But this is far from the only way to improve your SEO.
Aside from adding new content, you also need to update old content. Revisit old blogs to make sure the information is still relevant, add new sections, double-check that all of the links work, insert new links, update the metadata, and so on. Updating old content is fairly easy, but extremely important, as there are lots of studies suggesting that older content has a better chance of ranking highly on Google than new content.
Generate new leads
A business slowdown is a good time to focus on lead generation. Unlike content creation, which is fairly straightforward to implement, lead generation is a slightly more difficult marketing strategy to execute. As such, it can fall by the wayside.
The standard lead generation process involves getting a prospect’s attention via email, social media, or through a blog post. From there, the prospect clicks a link to a landing page with a form that aims to convert them to a lead and eventually, a sale.
When business is good, lead generation is taking care of itself; you’re focusing on operations while customers steadily pass through. When business is slow, it usually means that lead generation has fallen behind, and suddenly you have smooth operations and high-quality products, but no customers to offer them to. All you need to do is shift your focus back to lead generation, invest in marketing, and drive new leads until you bounce back.
Boost your social media presence
If you’re a small business owner, you’re probably focused on activities that are more important than your social media presence. But when it comes to growing your business, social media isn’t something you can participate in passively.
A slowdown is a suitable time to start working on a social media campaign. This means hosting giveaways, posting regularly, figuring out who your social media account most appeals to, and either targeting that audience harder or expanding to attract a new audience.
Every business’ social media strategy is going to look a little different, but if you’re a consumer-facing company, you need some form of social media engagement. It inspires brand loyalty, generates leads, and adds a human element to your business, strengthening the relationship customers have to your brand.
Reach out to previous customers
Even when a slowdown is temporary, it can spell trouble for your business. After all, you’re in business to make money, so watching that revenue shrink is nothing to take lightly. And while marketing is a reliable way to increase sales, it can drain your budget in the short-term, which you likely want to avoid.
A cost-effective way to increase sales during a slow period is to connect with previous customers. Send out a weekly newsletter letting them know you still exist, ask if they need your services, and maybe even seek out testimonials.
Building an audience through marketing takes time and money, which are two things that become even more valuable during a slowdown. By reaching out to existing customers, you’re building on an audience that you already have. This significantly reduces the work needed to secure sales from these individuals, making it an ideal way to make a slowdown productive.
Offer sales, referrals, and discounts
Our final strategy for speeding business up during a slowdown is one that you should use carefully. Sales, referrals, and discounts are usually pretty good at bringing new and old customers back to your business. However, they also reduce the profit you make from these sales, so the risk-reward needs to be calculated beforehand. Otherwise, you could end up increasing your sales without actually increasing your profits.
Warnings aside, these types of initiatives, along with customer loyalty programs, will certainly renew interest in your brand, especially if a slowdown occurs due to a weakening economy. And if your margins are particularly high, you may realize through a sale that the reason business has slowed down is because your products are priced too high.
How to invest your time online when business is slow
While you work to speed business back up, you can take advantage of the slowdown by using your newfound free time to invest in things you normally don’t have the time for. Below, we’ve listed effective ways to stay productive when work is lagging.
Create or update your website
By now, you’ve probably heard of the benefits of having a website a thousand times. However, investing in a website, particularly if you’re not the most tech-savvy, can seem like a daunting and costly endeavor. And besides, if you’ve never had a website, why do you need one now?
As current events have shown us, a digital storefront is more than an added convenience for your customers. It’s one of the cornerstones of modern business, an essential facet if you want to succeed today.
If you don’t already have a website, a slowdown is an optimal time to get one up and running. Not only will it start to bring in additional sales, but the launch of your website can generate excitement for existing customers. And if you already have one, now may be a good time to update it with the latest features or move to another platform altogether.
If you’re interested in a website platform that gives you the choice to DIY or work with experts in web design, SEO, and copywriting, learn more about B12’s one-of-a-kind approach.
Increase your content marketing
Another solid way to spend your time during a slowdown is to increase your content marketing. Content marketing is one of the most effective (and cost-effective!) forms of marketing, generating three times as many leads as paid search and outbound marketing. Businesses that invest in content marketing receive 126% more lead growth than those that neglect it.
In other words, content marketing provides you with the biggest bang for your buck. If you like to write, you can even get away with doing it for free. Blogging is time-consuming, but it’s well worth the investment. And if you want to outsource the work, B12 offers plans that deliver monthly blog posts written by professionals and full of keywords that support your SEO strategy.
Articles aren’t the only form of content marketing that counts, though. Videos may actually outperform written content (though they can be more costly to produce), and podcasts are worth researching too. Using your slowdown to launch a new content campaign is a worthwhile path to growth.
Update your online presence
A refreshed website and a content campaign are only a few aspects of your overall online presence. What do we mean by online presence? Your online presence is essentially all of the different channels, accounts, links, pages, and appearances that represent your business online. This spiderweb of marketing, content, and branding forms your online identity.
If you do a lot of your business in person or over the phone, it can be easy to let your online presence fall by the wayside, but now is an excellent time to broaden your online presence and increase your leads.
You can boost your online presence by creating a Google My Business page, updating your old logos and social media profiles, making an appearance on podcasts, blogs, and more, and launching a social media or email marketing campaign.
Sharpen your skills
Last but not least, another fantastic way to spend your time when business is slow is to work on your business-related skills. Is there a book you’ve meant to read? An online class you’d like to take? A webinar you keep putting off?
Sharpening your skills during a slow period provides you with multiple benefits. It’s a productive use of your time that will lead to increased productivity later. And you can use the skills you develop to grow your business during the slowdown.
This is also a great time to work toward any certifications that will help you progress and legitimize your business. Seeking out challenges like this will help you stay motivated until things pick up again.
Turning a slowdown into an upturn
Business slowdowns are no fun for anyone. They generate stress, uncertainty, and demand action from business leaders. However, you can use this as a wakeup call to take charge and improve your business in meaningful ways. This will not only carry you through the slowdown but also make your business even more successful afterward.
For more information on building your business and improving your online marketing strategy, check out the rest of the B12 Resource Center. You can also read about how B12 customers are adjusting to Covid-19.