One of the questions I get a lot goes something like this: “I used to have a ton of sales but the have dropped off!”
The questions that I ask in return almost always get the same answer: (you can guess what it is now and I’ll tell you in a minute)
- Do your sales normally increase or decrease this time of year?
- Are there more competitors than there were before?
- Has any of your competition released new product lines lately?
- Were there any major changes in trends/styles in your market?
- Have you stopped/changed any of the tactics that used to bring in sales?
More often than not, the answer to all of these is “I don’t know.”
All of these are things you should be tracking. I recommend updating them at least once a month. That brings us to the first tip:
1) Know what’s going on around you
You need to know how many items you are competing against and where you are showing up. If a competitor just released a best-selling item that is taking over the market, you need to know that.
You also need to know what’s going on with seasonal trends, fashions/styles, the overall economy, and with each platform you are selling on and/or marketing on so you can make adjustments to your product lines and marketing campaigns as necessary.
It’s also important to consider where your product is in its life cycle. If it’s a new product that is still rapidly growing, seasonal trends should have less of an effect.
To do: Make market research part of your monthly business maintenance. Make sure you are keeping an eye on industry news, blogs, keyword trends, and style trends on a regular basis.
2) Start doing what you used to do
New business owners tend to go nuts running marketing campaigns, making new products, researching keywords, building a website… then they start getting orders and spend all their time working on orders instead of working on bringing in customers.
To do: Make sure you are maintaining your business (or as I often put it, work ON your business, not IN it). Update your website, start a new marketing campaign, take new photos, improve your descriptions, do your market research, check your keyword performance… these are the things that keep your business alive.
3) Standing still means moving backwards
I often hear “I didn’t change anything, why would my results change?”
It’s because, metaphorically, your business is not sitting in one place. It is like a boat trying to go up river (against the current). If you stop paddling, you start moving backwards relative to everyone else.
Business owners often forget that other businesses can see what they are doing. Your competitors probably liked your Facebook page, followed you on Instagram, joined your newsletter, and routinely visit your site to see what you’re doing so they can beat you. Some sellers freak out and start blocking people… others use it as an incentive to improve.
To do: Watch your competition. Look at their new products, their marketing campaigns, their reviews… and make sure they are not leaving you behind. Look for any way you can apply your unique skills and assets to get ahead in the market in a way that is difficult to copy.
4) Are you sure you didn’t break it?
A really common complaint is “I was working on my SEO and then all my traffic stopped.”
If you’re working on something, the goal is to make it better. The only way you can do that with something like keywords is to know how your keywords are doing first so you can remove the ones that don’t work and replace them with new ones (and keep the ones that do work).
Make sure that any keywords you remove are ones that don’t work (meaning they don’t generate sales or traffic).
The same can be said about photos, ads, or mailing lists. If you have a lead photo or an email call ot action that brings in a lot of traffic, be really careful about changing that photo.
To do: Like I mentioned in #1, make sure you track your keyword performance and your photos so you know which ones to replace. Only replace ones that are not working at all. If you want to make bigger changes, make a copy of the listing and experiment on the copy.
The recurring theme in all of these is that you need to stay up-to-date with what’s going on in the overall market and keep working on improving your business structure.
Your business’ performance is ultimately up to you. If you actively work on marketing and selling your product, you will either get the better results or find out which product designs and tactics don’t work in a specific market.
My other article on the Customer Journey describes the aspects of your business that you need to be constantly evaluating. If you are doing that on a regular basis, drops should be a rare experience for you.
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