Let me ask you a question…
“Do you have a cycle of ‘feast or famine’ in your small business?”
Feast or famine in a small business is not all that unusual.
Sometimes when you are really, really busy and you think “This is great… it’s never going end!” then it does ends and you are rolling down into a low or slow season.
In slow times, when things start going sour and your sales start moving sideways (maybe even dipping straight down) you start to stress out, and think “This sucks… it’s never going end!”
But of course the hard times do eventually end. This is because most businesses have a natural up and down cycle (even during bad economic times).
Feast or Famine Cycles
A feast or famine cycle can be seasonal or take several months, even years for a company to go through the complete series of highs and lows.
At the start of an up-cycle. you are hunting down as much new business as you can find.
Then you are constantly running yourself ragged doing what you have to do in order to earn a living for yourself, your staff and to keep things going.
When your business is running at maximum, it’s hard take time away from your work to market your products and services because you’re always rushing around taking care of customers and doing what you like do do best.
You think this isn’t the best time for promote your business because … well, you’re so super busy!
On the other hand, during a dip in the cycle or during a “slow season”, you have more time to focus on marking and promoting, but since your cashflow and income is also throttled back, you might start to feel a little bit desperate.
Desperation is never good
And feeling desperate is never a good time to promote yourself, I know from painful personal experience… because desperation ALWAYS leads to bad choices.
- You will end up saying and doing things you wish you hadn’t. So you will agree to do work or to sell your stuff at prices that undercut your income goals.
- You will find yourself working with people you wish you hadn’t. When you try to force yourself just to make things work with customers (who just aren’t a good fit for you or your company), they end up leaving your business with a bad taste in their mouths.
- And if you keep doing this enough times, you will eventually become discouraged and miserable. Not to mention ruining your reputation as more and more disgruntled customers whine about you to their friends on their social media networks and on review sites like Yelp, etc..
If your business operates in a “feast or famine” mode, you might think that there never is a good time to work on marketing your business because you are always either too busy or too desperate. But what can you do?
So the Answer is … Never Stop Marketing!
This means the best time to promote your company – to get more new customers and grow your business is to always be marketing.
You must make marketing and promoting a natural part of running your business, so much so that the feast or famine cycle over time stops completely or is at least smoothed out.
3 Simple Things You Can Do to Stop a Feast or Famine Small Business Cycle
Define your ideal target market as narrowly as you can.
The quickest way to standout in your online promotions is to target a specific group of people to market to.
If you are a service professional or operate a brick and mortar business, you probably already “target” a specific geographic location like a neighborhood, city or region.But there are already plenty of other competitors fighting for that space. Showcase your differences.
For example, if you run a retail shop that offers more high-end items than your competitors, why not set yourself apart by targeting a more upscale market? Not every customer buys or hires for the same reasons.
If you run your company to appeal to an audience different than others in your area then say so! If you can offer different products or services then say so!
Position yourself as the friendly expert.
If you are running a small business, then the chances are you are either an expert or specialist of some sort. Else why would you go into business for yourself?
But for most people, who have never met you before, what you do might look every much like what others in your field or industry do.Now this dovetails with the tip above of marketing to a group of people.
This might seem like the first tip I told you about (targeting a narrow group of people) … but this is one about you matching your skills and talents to what customers are looking for.
Say you want more work as a business consultant. In a previous career, you may have gotten lots of experience working in sales and managing a sales department for a large retail chain.
But if you never position yourself as a specialist, by say offering “professional sales consulting services for retailers” – how will your potential customers ever know you are different from the millions of other coaches and consultants out there?
Singling out ‘retailers’ is how you narrow your focus on a specific industry but by saying that you are a specialist, ‘a professional sales consultant’, you also position yourself as being an expert within that particular industry.
Regularly share valuable insights and information with your potential customers.
This is a great way to share with people the reasons why they should work with you or buy from you. Most business folks forget that to consumers, each business is different.
Even something as simple as getting your car tires balanced and rotated can suddenly become a hassle depending on the auto repair website you visit. Recently I fiddled-farted around online looking for a auto repair shop near my neighborhood that would tell me how much balancing my tires would cost.
I found only one, (out of the 7 sites I found) and it was this one company that got my business. The other auto shops within also within easy driving distance but they either had no website, or ones that were little better than an online business card or the site never even mentioned if they even did tire balancing or not!
Okay you might be asking yourself why didn’t I just call them or drive by?
I was very busy that day (lazy) and I HATE calling auto shops for fear that whoever answers will say stuff like “Hmm, well you will have to come by and let me/us/them look at it…” UGH!
I thought I could save time learning about the various companies online before I left my house and drove through heavy traffic just to let them “look at it”.
By sharing a simple bit of information (an estimate) of how much this type of repair normally costs on their website, won this company my business… over other companies, even ones I had used in the past.
Publishing helpful information that your customers want to know (and that your competitors don’t want to share) is a wonderful way to grab people’s attention when they are busy and stressed-out.
Now the most affordable and effective ways that I know, that can help you continuously position yourself as an expert, stay in front of your ideal customers, is to share your expertise using a lead generation website.
A lead generation website uses both core web content pages (that pre-sell your products/services) along with regular blog posts to attract people. It allows you to promote your business – all year round – no matter what part of the feast or famine cycle you’re in.
With a properly optimized lead generation website you don’t have to spend hours and hours on messing around on ‘Flakebook’ or posting thousands of tweets on Twitter to just to attract the fleeting attention of a handful of followers… who never buy from you.
Instead, a lead-generation website is like having a “24/7 sales team in print”.
Using the right web content will pull just the right people to your business, position you as a trustworthy expert and persuade them to do business with you.
If you would like to know more about my services or discover how to turn your current website into a powerful lead generating machine, I invite your request a free consultation here.