410.235.7070 Join Our E-Letter
businessGPS Taking You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Go.

How to Increase Sales in a Slow Economy

How to Increase Sales in a Slow Economy

April 22, 2008

I love what I do, but I just get so frustrated at times.

If you're like me, I save my junk mail (my wife loves that!) and I look through the magazines and newspapers scanning the ads as much as the headlines just to see what others are promoting and how they're positioning their business. But lately, I just want to tear some of them up or even pick up the phone and call the business owners of those ads and ask: "What are you thinking?!"

As the economy continues to slow down and everyone complains about the prices of gas, bread, cereal and everything else going up, it seems as if deep discounts are the only answer to adding revenue. "Save 20%." "Discounts up to 50% now available." "Limited time offer; save 15% on your purchase." Those are just the headlines from today's mail!

Deep discounts seemed to be the only solution during the last slowdown after 9/11 in 2001. Who can ever forget the automakers' 0% financing deals? Deep discounts were the answers in the 90s, the 80s, the 70s and so on.

It reminds me of the time I took several years off to travel around the world. I lived out of a backpack and ate out of a Frisbee. I played for a semi-professional ultimate Frisbee team in Europe.

I went on a spiritual journey for quite a while and gave up everything I had in America. I became a devout Buddhist. I lived in a Buddhist Monastery. I shaved my head and changed my name. I stopped eating for a week. I stopped moving for a week. I lived blindfolded for a week so I could see what it was like to be blind and I stopped speaking for a week. I've had quite a few adventures in my life.

I traveled all around the world because I figured the corporate world would still be here waiting for me when I got back. Guess what?

It was still here and going strong.

Discounting isn't the only solution!

And I'm sure deep discounts will still be the answer for many business owners during the next economic slowdown too. But that's not the only way to add new revenue. Yet, very few business owners see it that way.

There are 3 methods to increase revenue:

1. Add new sales. This is what most business owners are doing as they try to compete on price and offer incentives just to get more traffic through the door.

2. Increase the price on existing sales. This takes some guts but the idea is that you sell just as many or even fewer items but you increase your revenue per item selling each at a higher price.

3. Increase sales with previous customers.

The most overlooked opportunity

The last method is the one I want to focus on. It's absolutely the most overlooked marketing segment among business owners. I don't understand it. Most spend all their time and money chasing new customers (Method #1). Why spend all that time and money cutting your prices trying to get new customers when you can go back to your existing customers and ask them to buy again?

You already have a qualified buyer (they bought from you at least once before). They already have a need for your product or service (they demonstrated that the last time they bought). And they already know and trust you.

What more can you want?

The secret in marketing to your existing customers is to give them as much information as you can about their last purchase. Remember, you're in a relationship. Your customers spent their hard earned money and time with you once before so be sure to recognize that when you go back to them, and then tell them why you think they should buy from you again.

Amazon.com does a terrific job of this. I've bought quite a few marketing and sales books (go figure!) online and any time a new sales or marketing book comes out they immediately send me an email letting me know that it's available for me to order.

"We want you back!"

The more successful magazine and newsletter publishers do this too. In fact, they even send marketing pieces to people who didn't renew their subscriptions. Some call it the "we want you back promotion." Imagine going back to your customers who said they didn't want to do business with you anymore. Does it work? You bet. Those promotions usually outperform all others by 2-5 times the standard promotions sent to prospects.

So next time you plan to send a promotion, send one to your past customers asking them to come back. You'll be amazed at the response. Who knows, you may not even have to offer a deep discount either!

Always taking you from where you are to where you want to go,


Jon Goldman