I was chatting to a lady the other day and she said ‘Claire, this business is bad for my nerves and my blood pressure. One day it’s fine, I have money in the bank and then within days it’s all gone on staff costs, supplies and other bills. Then there are days when sales are GREAT and other days and weeks when nothing I do works, nobody buys. I feel like I’m always playing catch up – why can’t I get a steady stream of customers and money coming in, so I’m not always in this position?
I totally understood what she was talking about – it’s the unpredictability. Wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to predict the future and know who will buy, and when? To know you have enough money coming in to cover your costs, pay yourself a salary and have some left over? But as you probably know, it’s harder than it looks. Business is like a rollercoaster, where you lurch from highs to lows, seemingly with no control over what’s happening.
It’s a real challenge, because when your business behaves like that the only way to stop that rollercoaster effect is to change the way you do things. You have to smooth out the bumps and level out the ride and that takes time and effort, but once you get there it’s SO much easier (and better for your health).
So, How Do You Stop Those Frightening Ups And Downs?
The ups and downs are caused by a few things.
By not having a steady stream of clients, by not having a steady stream of money coming in and by not having a plan to keep sales moving all the time. So, what can you do about it?
Well, there is one thing you can do that will change the way your business behaves. It will smooth out the lumps and take out the quiet patches. And yet, hardly anyone does it. And even when they do, they hardly ever do it properly and consistently and yet, it could TRANSFORM their business for the better.
What is it?
Build Your Database!
This is one of the most under-rated areas of business EVER!
So many people don’t bother building their database or collecting email addresses – or worse, they collect them and do nothing with them – and yet it could be the ANSWER to most of their business rollercoaster problems!!
Let me explain.
When someone visits your website, they might take a look around, find a few things they like but they don’t buy – why not? Because it’s not the right time for them. Either they are looking for something they don’t need right now, but are just researching (think gifts for upcoming birthdays or other celebrations) or they aren’t in a position to buy YET because they are saving up or need more information or to talk to someone else about it.
So, although they LOVE your stuff, they decided not to buy today. So they go. Forever. And then they forgot what your site was called so even though they vaguely remembered how lovely it was, after a quick Google it didn’t show up so you lost them.
What are you going to do about it?
“What do you mean, what am I going to do about it?” You ask! “I can’t MAKE them buy, I can’t MAKE them come back!” I hear you say. Well here’s the thing: you can’t make them buy TODAY but do you know what? You CAN make them much more likely to come back and buy when they are ready.
You can get them into your database (or onto your mailing list, however you want to describe it) and you can build a relationship with them.
You can send them your regular e-newsletter, packed full of things they will love and find useful. You’ll share new product information, you’ll tell them about any sales or offers you have, you’ll talk about the business, you’ll suggest ways to use your products and services and you’ll include lovely testimonials from happy customers. Every month.
That way, they get used to seeing you in their inbox.
They start to look forward to getting your emails and hearing from you. They look out for your sales and offers. They become familiar with your name and your business and your products and services.
A Transformation Takes Place
They change FROM someone who loved your stuff but wasn’t ready to buy, so they left your website never to return INTO someone who looks forward to your monthly email and buys even when they hadn’t planned to because you put such lovely things under their nose all the time.
You go from being a lost opportunity TO being the business they think of when they need what you sell. And when they are ready to buy, they will buy from YOU. It’s like magic. But it’s actually quite simple, really. You just need to stay in touch, keep sharing stuff they love and keep adding value.
It Just Keeps Getting Better
Not only do they get used to seeing you around in their email, they also start to get to know you (and people buy people, remember?). They learn about your business.
If you’re clever, you’ll have videos and images on your website and social media pages of you and your team so customers know who they are dealing with – it will bridge the gap between you being an ‘untrustworthy stranger’ to being someone your subscribers feel they know. And you can direct people from your newsletters to your website to find out more about you and your team.
People are much more likely to buy from you if they feel there is a ‘real’ person behind the business who loves what they do and can help them if they struggle with a purchase. This is where you have a HUGE advantage over the big faceless corporates who can’t manage that personal touch.
Smoothing Out Cashflow Lumps
And remember we talked about that lurching rollercoaster feeling of ups and downs in sales and money coming in? Well building your database and keeping in touch with your subscribers via regular e-newsletters is an antidote to that. It smooths out the big lumps. It steadies the ride.
Think about it. Most businesses rely on potential customers finding them on Google. If those people visit their website and don’t buy there and then, they have lost them. What a waste.
Not you though, you’re clever and you’ve got this covered. You know now that you need to get them onto your email list and keep in touch with them.
And you’re sending them lovely newsletters packed full of things they will find interesting, useful and valuable.
And then once a month you send them a BIG DEAL newsletter. A newsletter with a FAB offer they can’t resist.
Do you think they will take notice? Well, they will probably take far more notice of YOUR offers than those of any other random company who happens to tout to them. What will actually happen is that you’ll have control over your sales. Let me just repeat that in case you didn’t get it.
YOU WILL HAVE CONTROL OVER YOUR SALES
Because 80% of your newsletters and newsletter content will be non-salesy, added value loveliness, when you DO send out an offer your subscribers will take notice. And BUY.
This is what I do with my business. It’s what ALL successful businesses do – because it works!
It takes time to build your database and build those relationships. You have to put some work in to establish your monthly newsletter and work out what your subscribers love to see and read. But once you get the recipe right, it really works.
When you send out offers, the people on your growing email list will buy.
That counteracts seasonality. It flattens out those horrible rollercoaster peaks and troughs. It gets rid of the stress and the fear of NO SALES. It works whether you have a physical shop or premises, or you’re totally online. Quiet times are a thing of the past. You just need to plan your e-marketing in a very simple way and you’ve got it covered (eg. January Sale, February Valentines, March Spring Offers, April Showcase, you get the idea)
So let me just recap:
- Build your database (another blog coming next week to tell you HOW to do that)
- Keep in touch every month
- Share information that’s topical, useful, valuable and interesting but not SELL, SELL, SELL
- Once in a while, on a regular basis, send out a BIG DEAL OR OFFER newsletter
- Watch the sales come in
Are you up for a challenge? The sooner you start building your list and e-marketing, the sooner the magic will start to happen. I can’t wait to see how you get on!
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Claire Mitchell is a best-selling author of the Awesome Marketing Planner and founder of The Girls Mean Business, a mum and business owner. She has been featured in Marie-Claire, The Guardian, Closer Magazine, Essentials, The Huffington Post and on the BBC.