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How to Grow … When Business is Slow


When the going gets tough, the tough gets creative.

Expected or unexpected, downtime and lulls happen in business. Maybe you’re been humming along for months, and suddenly, your leads just start to plummet for no reason. Maybe your business is seasonal, and you have little choice but to ride the waves. 

Maybe there are larger forces at work. 

During the current situation with COVID-19, many of us who work predominantly in-person are finding our schedules shifting. Customers are deciding to cancel — or not schedule in the first place — to reduce their potential exposure. Though this might be the right thing to do, it can be a huge shock to your business. 

As if these challenges aren’t enough, add in some unexpected new co-workers!  Many of us also now have our children at home. Feeling like you don’t have any time to focus on your business?You are not alone.  We encourage you to drill down and identify high-impact methods to stay connected to your customers and continue to grow your business.

Because now is the time to find the positives where you can, and create a plan to take advantage of this downtime.

“A fall is never final unless you stay on the ground.” — Marie Forleo, Everything Is Figureoutable

Whether you are experiencing downtime due to seasonality or factors outside of your control, maximizing this time can build momentum that will continue to grow your business. While a lull can feel disheartening, view it as an opportunity to reframe and focus on important levers that will help your business attract more customers into the future.

Here are our top strategies to deploy when business is slow:

  1. Reach out to past clients

    Ask for those testimonials. We know that the strongest tool in your marketing arsenal is the testimonial of a happy client. If asking for them hasn’t been a part of your system, you might not have many endorsements in place. Take this time to make a list of some of your favorite clients and reach out to them.

    Send a quick message to ask if they will share a quote about their experience. Don’t forget to ask for a photo to go along with the testimonial if you have a website. Having a face to go along with the quote will increase readers’ trust.

  2. Focus on securing return customers

    While you’re talking with happy past customers, and they’re thinking of how wonderful you are, let them know that you’re currently available! It’s easier (and less expensive) to keep a customer than to acquire a new one. Reach out to your past clients, find out their current challenges, and suggest how your services can solve their needs.

    This is a unique moment in history when it’s okay, even expected, to show vulnerability. A quick email to your list to say, “Hey, business is slow because of COVID-19, and I have availability this week to do online sessions,” can go a long way. Or infuse a positive spin into it: “I didn’t plan on having this week free, but here’s a chance to get some additional help on your X project!” Offer help where you can, and remember to ask for a lift where you need it.

  3. Ask for recommendations and referrals

    Past customers can be great sources for referrals to expand your network and find new leads. You could also consider offering a referral bonus (such as, for every referral you get $10 off your next purchase). 

    Now that you have a few extra hours in your week, you can spend them chatting online with new people. Even if they don’t turn into clients, you can learn a lot about what your audience is looking for. The more you listen, the more easily you can suss out what your audience’s problems are. That’s how you come up with a solution.

  4. Take a look at your marketing

    How recently have you reviewed your website, Pepperlane profile, and social media pages to make sure they are up to date and accurate? When business is slow, take the time to ensure all your links work, that new photos are updated, and that your services are correctly listed. Consider refreshing your language or swap out an older testimonial for an updated one.

    Take an online marketing class or Pathway to figure out your best next steps. Need some help with a social media plan? Grab our 15 Minutes to Social Media Success guide.

  5. Make time for self-care

    There isn’t much time for yourself when you are a small business owner. It can feel tempting to panic and hustle when things are slower, but don’t forget to slow down a bit and make time for self-care. This will help the creative juices flow, and help you bring renewed energy to your work. Take a walk if you can. Read something not related to work. We need you for the long haul.

    When business lulls, it is natural to feel some concern. Your power lies in your ability to turn that concern into action. These simple strategies can be fit in at any time to allow you space to focus on what matters most.

#1SimpleAct - Join an online boost
Need to bounce an idea off a real, live colleague? Join an online Boost session. Your first Boost is always free. Engage in worthwhile conversations and walk away energized. 

Even while you’re staying at home, you don’t have to be isolated. We can figure this out together.

Written by Team Pepperlane

The Pepperlane team is a group of women who are leaders, entrepreneurs and mothers.

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