Does your business surge at specific times of the year, and lag in others? That’s typical for most professionals—there are certain times of the year when business is booming and other times when it is lacking. While it may be nice to have a break to catch up on those must-do administrative tasks, wouldn’t it be better to have steady business all year long? Of course, it would! So let’stake a look at some marketing ideas to grow your business and keep your clients engaged even during the off-season.
1. Off-Season Discounts
You know how hotels and resorts offer reduced room rates off-season to draw customers in? Take a cue from these businesses and offer discounts on your services to get your clients thinking about tasks they usually do at the last minute or are far down on their to-do lists. Whether it’s creating a living will or reconciling bank statements, offering a discount could be an incentive for your clients to be proactive (and also bring in money for your business).
Another marketing idea that can help grow your business is to keep in touch by email to let your clients know you’re still available to provide services during the off-season. Include a menu of items pertinent to your clients’personal or business needs. Write an attention-grabbing subject line for your email correspondence. Make it a limited-time offer and include a calendar of important deadlines, so your clients see the advantage of taking care of these tasks now. You can also follow up with a phone call to remind clients about the off-season discounts you’re offering and answer any questions they may have.
2. Promote Retainer Discounts
To keep the cash coming in all year long, consider offering your clients a discount for hiring your business on a retainer (or a monthly payment plan)instead of paying on a per-project basis. Play up the advantages they’ll enjoy from getting your advice year-round and the overall discount the monthly payment can bring them.
As a professional, you know the end of a project is never really the end. Questions and issues always arise where your client might need more help or answers to questions. Setting up a retainer contract can put your clients’worries to rest knowing you’re there for them when they need you.
To combat any reservations clients may have about a monthly retainer fee, you could sell them on the fact that you’re not only there for them when they have a question, you will also continually work on their business or portfolio to look for ways to improve their situation and offer advice. Come up with an individualized offering for each client detailing what you’ll be doing monthly for them. Be sure to be specific as to how this will help improve their circumstances overall. What you want to avoid is your client thinking their monthly payment is a waste of money if they have no issues or questions. If you can show them how you’ll be working for them every month, you can assuage their concerns—and earn the business.
3. Offer New Services
Is there a service your clients frequently ask for that you don’t offer? Do you find yourself referring your customers to another business for services you could be offering yourself? Brainstorm with your staff or peers to think of other services you could offer your clients. For example, CorpNet’s partner program makes it easy to offer business formation and compliance services to your clients without you having to do the work.
If you’re not sure what your clients would like to you to offer, conduct a customer survey to see what their needs are and what other services they are interested in. You can put the survey on your website or use social media platforms. There are plenty of helpful survey tools available such as QuestionPro, SurveyMonkey and Zoho Survey.
To get better results, don’t just ask participants to tell you what services they want—they may not think of any. Instead, ask about your clients’ goals and any problems they have come across they couldn’t solve. Then come up with services you can offer to help them reach those goals or provide solutions to their issues. The more you can find out about your clients’ businesses or personal situations, the easier it will be for you to develop new services to offer in the future and think of other marketing ideas to grow your business.
4. Make Connections
The off-season is a great time to ramp up your business connections by partnering with other businesses, volunteering in the community and networking at business events. Obviously, thinking about marketing ideas to grow your business is nearly impossible to fit in during your busy seasons while you’re under the gun to meet project deadlines. However, during slower seasons, building new relationships and strengthening existing ones is the best way to spend your downtime.
Ask your clients what other services they use, and see if you can meet with the other businesses to strike up a partnership. Perhaps you can co-market each other’s businesses to share in each other’s promotional efforts. Or you could offer your services together as a package deal to bring in new clients and increase revenues. You might be amazed at your success when you put your heads together to conceive marketing ideas to grow both of your businesses.
Think outside the box when looking for partners or places to volunteer. Local schools always need professional help; community events are always looking for sponsors. Even your local recreational baseball teams need sponsors. Having your name associated with a local team can be an effective marketing idea that builds your business as it helps raise community awareness of your business. Volunteering or offering your services to a women’s shelter or church organization is also a great way to show your local support and shows potential clients you’re committed to being a positive influence in your community.
5. Leverage Customer Satisfaction to Gain Referrals
Finally, use your offseason to work on getting referrals. Professional businesses are built on their reputations and need customer recommendations to survive. In the study, The State of Business Customer Referral Programs, both B2B and B2C business owners say the majority of their referrals come from social media (29%) and email (23%).
Have you checked your Yelp reviews lately? Be sure to include a link to Yelp on all your correspondence to encourage reviews. Online reviews can serve as powerful marketing tools that will help you grow your business. Follow up on all negative reviews immediately by reaching out to the unsatisfied customer and trying to make it right. Set up a referral rewards program. For every referral that turns into a client, send the referring client a gift card to a nice restaurant or store in your area (according to the referral survey, gift cards are the most popular referral incentive). Most satisfied clients are happy to refer their friends, family and business associates—all you have to do is ask.
By taking these steps you’ll be on your way toward boosting your business. Stay positive, get creative, and turn that seasonal slump into a time of success.