As the holiday season approaches, experienced freelancers and small business owners know all too well that there will likely be a slump in new business. It’s a time when clients are busy with holiday parties and end-of-year closing duties, in addition to taking extra time off.
But most growing businesses can’t afford to spend the month surfing the internet and waiting for the first week in January, when everyone jumps back in. Here’s how to make the most of the downtime to position your business for growth.
1. Reach out to former clients.
Over the course of doing business, clients will inevitably drop off your radar. But there’s no reason you have to write them off permanently. Use the holiday season as an opportunity to send greetings and mention any specials you’re offering in the new year. Offer to take the old client out to lunch in the new year and get caught up.
2. Develop an email marketing push.
Ex-clients aren’t the only ones you can contact during slower periods. Take advantage of the spare time to prepare an email marketing campaign, designed to deploy once the holiday chaos is over. Use personalized marketing techniques to improve your success rates. And most importantly, avoid spamming potential customers – be honest and up front about what you’re offering and making it easy for customers to opt out of future emails.
3. Update your website.
If you’ve been thinking about redoing your website, the slow holiday season is the perfect opportunity. Not only will you have spare hours on your hands, but your customers likely won’t be visiting during the time you may need to take your existing site offline. You can pay a professional designer to do an overhaul or move to one of the website builders available. If you choose the latter, you may still want to pay a designer to develop important graphics like your logo.
4. Attend networking events.
The holiday season is a great time to network, since parties are everywhere. If your office building hosts a tenant-appreciation event, don’t skip it. You may find your next client works in your own building. Also, check with your local Chamber of Commerce to see if there are any business-oriented networking events that you could benefit from. Or if you’re a freelancer, look for local events using sites like Meetup.com. You may not only meet potential clients, but also find a new support system to help with the many concerns you face every day.
5. Host a customer-appreciation event.
In addition to attending events, the season offers an excellent reason to host something of your own. If your customers are local, hold an open house where you invite everyone in for an after-work or lunchtime party. For more remote client bases, use the holiday season as an excuse to send a thank you gift, such as offering a discount for services or a promo item with your branding on it.
6. Mail out promotional calendars.
This one involves some pre-planning, but the end of the year sends everyone scrambling for a desk or wall calendar. This is your chance to fill that demand. Make your calendar something customers will want to display, with beautiful scenery, useful recipes, and other information that appeals to your target audience. Your branding should be included, but not be the sole focus of the calendar.
7. Attack your to-do list.
Chances are, there are items you’ve been putting off throughout the year. Use this time to clean out your desk, organize your email inbox, and update your contact databases. Make a list of these items and tackle them during the slow holiday months. You’ll start the new year ready to take on fresh challenges.
For freelancers and small business owners, the holiday period can dramatically impact earnings. But you don’t have to sit idly. By putting the slowdown to good use, you’ll actually find that it’s something you look forward to each year.
How do you make the most of the holiday slump? Share your tips in the comments below.