Say Goodbye To Your “Slow Season” [Q&A With Mike Bal]

Most business owners have had to experience and overcome the challenges associated with slow seasons at one time or another. Some businesses experience slow seasons over the summer, some over the winter, and others deal with slow seasons or slow periods on a particular day every week.

If you’re a business owner and you’re tired of having no choice but to deal with slow seasons and the challenges and consequences that come with them, it’s time to start being more proactive. Slow seasons aren’t a necessary evil or an unavoidable part of owning and operating a business. They don’t have to exist. You can say goodbye to the slow season at your small business. Investing in social media is one good way to start being more proactive in your effort to eliminate slow seasons.

We recently talked with Mike Bal, a social and digital marketing thought leader currently acting as the Director of Client Success at a digital marketing agency called Single Grain. We asked Mike to answer a few questions in order to help business owners understand what they can and should be doing on social media to eliminate the slow seasons at their businesses. Read through our questions and his answers for ideas on how to get started, what to focus on, and what to expect:

What are some actionable social media tips you have for business owners who want to boost foot traffic during their “slow season”?

Mike: All of the following ideas can be announced and promoted via social. I recommend advertising them on Facebook by targeting your page fans.

  • Partner up with another local business to offer customers a fun deal. For example: If it’s winter and you sell ice cream try teaming up with a coffee shop for a coffee/hot chocolate and ice cream combo.
  • Focus on your environment instead of just your product/service. People are always looking for somewhere to go and/or something to do no matter what season it is. Give them an environment that appeals all year round and you’ll increase their loyalty and keep them coming through the door.
  • Get your customers involved in the business. Invite them to come try a new product or service for free and let them know their feedback will be used to decide whether or not you keep it.

Who can and should business owners be connecting and interacting with to help eliminate their slow season?

Mike: Business owners should focus on their customers, period. Loyal customers will come in all seasons of the year because they want to so it’s important that owners go the extra mile to earn that loyalty. This means knowing your customers, engaging them via social, and doing something above and beyond for them. A few ideas:

  • Random Freebies
  • Send them a hand written note
  • Send them a gift or gift card
  • Engage with them via social from your personal account and the business’ accounts

What is the number one thing every business owner needs to understand before investing heavily (time or money) in social media?

Mike: Social media can do anything or it can do absolutely nothing. You need to have a plan and vision for how it will help your businesses instead of just doing it because you ‘have to’.

How can a business decide which social media site they should be on (if they only want to start with one)?

Mike: If you’re a small or local business you need to figure out where your customers spend their time online and then develop a presence there. Take the time to ask them when they’re in the store and keep tally before you make any big decisions. Keep in mind that how they use those social networks is just as important as whether or not they’re using them. Your business needs to be relevant to your customers based on the experience they want in that channel. So, if they’re on Facebook for a laugh and a distraction they aren’t going to want to read a lot of technical industry jargon about your business.

What if a business owner has no social media experience or abilities? Where should they start?

Mike: The best way to do it is to create yourself an account and start playing around. No one loves and understands your business as much as you so if you don’t learn you’ll never understand what it can really do for your business.

What other businesses (big or small) can they learn from? Do you have any favorite examples of businesses or brands that we can send our readers to for inspiration?

Mike: I think the best place to look is within your own industry so you can get ideas that actually apply to your own business. Watching big brands like Coke doesn’t do you any good because their strategy is completely different from what yours should be. My personal favorites are Loot Crate, InsideHook, and Dollar Shave Club. They all have a really strong and consistent brand that comes through in their social media, which is one of the most important elements of successful social marketing.

What are some things business owners should avoid doing on social media during their slow season?

Mike: Try not to get desperate and just push random deals or coupons on your customers, give them a good reason to come in and they will. Also make sure that you don’t treat your business social media like you would your own. Your business’ social channels reflect on you and all of your employees as well as the brand itself.

How important is it for businesses to be authentic and transparent with followers on social media? Why?

Mike: That really depends on your strategy, your business, and your customers. ‘Authentic’ can mean a lot of things and I’ve seen a lot of really great social projects take on fictional personas to engage their followers. The more important element is consistency and purpose. If you know why your business is using social media you can manage your followers expectations. Do you want it to be the personal connection or do you want it to be a tool for engagement?

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 8.08.03 AMAny other good resources we can send people to for additional help or advice?

Mike: Buffer is a great social media management tool for personal or business accounts and I love using Feedly and Flipboard for finding interesting content.

Mike Bal is a modern day renaissance man currently acting as the Director of Client Success with Single Grain. He’s a husband and a father of one with another on the way. Aside from being a Batman fanboy, boxer, drummer, and former breakdancer Mike is also the founder of a project Called Creature of Content and the author of an in-the-works book project called Marketing Apocalypse: The Brand Survival Guide.

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