By Heath Starkey
As a small business, budget is always a concern. Finding ways to increase sales is the top priority of every small business. However, according to BrighTalk (2015), roughly 80% of marketers feel what they are doing is only “slightly or somewhat” effective.
This means that most people that sell a product feel that what they are doing isn’t working. Do you identify with this? Do you feel what you are doing just isn’t working?
Whether you feel you are behind the curve, or just feel as though you can or should be doing better, here we have compiled 10 of the most effective ways you can boost the sales of your product for little or no money at all.
How to Increase Your Sales (On a Budget)
1. Quality Control
For starters, Quality Control is either a singular procedure or a set of procedures that are put in place to ensure the product in question meets a certain standard of quality through adhering to specifications, requirements, or criteria BEFORE the product is sold or otherwise transferred to the purchaser.
These procedures are initiated throughout the development process so by the time manufacturing or production is complete, the product has met all standards set forth through advertising, licensing, or the like.
Quality Control is something that should not be taken lightly, let alone overlooked.
For example, food products undergo stringent QC before being packaged. Companies like Coca Cola, Whole Foods, or Chili’s would be out of business virtually overnight without these procedures in place. Without them, their products could harm or even kill someone. To exemplify this point, just take a look at Chipotle. While it looks as though they are rebounding from their major E-Coli outbreak that plagued their business for months, if it wasn’t for millions of dollars spent on PR and actually fixing the problem, they nearly lost everything.
For smaller businesses, a product that is found to be defective or otherwise not as advertised, and without the money it would take to get through a slump in sales, it could very well mean everything.
So, strict Quality Control measures should be put in place whether you sell digital goods or a physical product. And this generally doesn’t cost a cent to implement.
2. Meet Market Needs
It is one thing to believe you have found an amazing product and entirely another to have found a product people want to buy. This concept also applies to market over saturation.
Meeting market needs sounds pretty basic, right? Find something people want, and give it to them.
Easy? Not so easy.
For an in-depth look, let’s go to Instagram. I’m sure you have probably heard of Wraps. Women use them to shed pounds, or rather, give the appearance of fast weight loss. Now, I’m not going to get into the details of whether or not the product works. And no, I’m not going to review it.
I am, however, going to get into its inception and eventual over saturation. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people still making tons of money through this product. It’s just that it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to break into this niche. Unless you have a record of recommending great products, have hundreds of thousands of followers, you probably won’t make much money off this product.
Why? Over saturation.
If you are not there to ride the initial wave of a new trend, jumping on the tail end of it will probably leave you washed out. This is why you should focus on trends. This can be done through social media. Watch what’s happening. Track trending hashtags, and jump on the wave as it’s just beginning, not when it’s about to break against the shore.
Oh, and meeting the demands of your clientele should already be a part of your business model, so it shouldn’t cost you a cent.
Already have a product that carries the ability to sell? That’s great! Go home. Just kidding. Meeting market demand still applies to you. You just fall more in the category of trying to better market your product. Everybody wants more business. Unless you’re Coke. Then you’re doing fine. If you’re not Coke, move on to the next section.
3. Boost Brand Recognition
Brand recognition is when a consumer can identify your brand without being exposed to your company’s name. This is usually done through visual components such as logos, but sometimes slogans, as well.
Sounds easy, right? Boost brand recognition! Easy? Not easy.
But it is doable. Especially if you sell a niche product. However, for mainstream products and mainstream audiences, you are going to have a fight on your hands. But again, it is doable. Just not easy. Especially for a small business.
Creating brand recognition requires several things. As noted in an article by Forbes, you need to stay present in your circles. This means sending regular email campaigns, newsletters, and promotions to your existing subscribers or customers. Word of mouth is strong, believe it or not.
The article also strongly recommends blogging. There are a million and one reasons why you should be blogging if you are not already, but I’ll leave them for another blog (see what I did there?). However, I will say that blogging is one of the most powerful inbound marketing tools available to you. What does inbound marketing have to do with brand recognition? Everything! Let me explain.
The most essential component of establishing brand recognition is having a logo that is simple, catchy, and easy to identify. For a prime example, just look at Apple. It’s literally just an apple. With a bite already taken out of it. A used apple. BUT, it’s a multibillion-dollar corporation. So, there you go.
A logo that provides the ability for easy recognition? Check! Getting that logo in front of your target audience? Not so check (it’s a thing). This is where the blogs come into play. Blog posts are a fantastic way to get targeted content out into the world. Each post should be optimized with keywords and long-tailed keywords that your target customers will most likely type into their favorite search engine to find more information. When done correctly, your blog will appear. When the searcher clicks on your blog post, it will whisk them away to your website, where they will see your logo.
Now, if the blog post rocks and provides them with awesome value, your logo will be remembered. You have just created brand recognition. Blogs can be easily marketed for a larger crowd using social media. But I’ll leave that for another post, as well.
By the way; you can write your own blogs for free, but I wouldn’t recommend it. And not because I want you to by a blog subscription from us. Well, not only.
It’s because I am of the opinion that your time should be spent doing other things for your business. I believe that you should automate as much of your day as possible, leaving you with more time to discover ways to make more money.
4. Talk with Current Customers
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many head slaps we get with this one.
Even though it is always important for companies to identify new customers within their target market, it is also important to engage with those who are already buying your items. If you want to increase the sales of your product or your line of products, you need to understand whether your current customers are satisfied and if they have any suggestions regarding improvements or changes your company could make.
These changes, once implemented, not only affect the way your current customers perceive your company, but it will inevitably affect the way potential customers look at your company, as well.
This can be done through surveys, polls, or even a simple feedback form. You may also want to consider using a free gift or offering some kind of discount to entice your customers to provide you with this feedback. Yes, giving something away or giving a discount may seem to be counterproductive to making more sales, but it isn’t. Not by a long shot.
You see, the more feedback you get from people who know your product or service and are not related to the company in any other way, the more power you have. Yes, knowledge is power. And the more knowledge you have about your product, website, or business model as a whole, the more power you have to make critical changes to increase customer satisfaction.
Some questions you should focus on having answered are:
Are you satisfied with the product you received?
Do you feel the product you received was as advertised?
How was your experience on our website?
Do you have any suggestions to improve our website?
There are countless things you could ask, but the best feedback you can get is going to be from direct, short questions.
The money you can make from making changes to your existing business model, website, products, or distribution method can literally change the way you live. Some of these changes may cost some money upfront, but the money you could make in the long-term is well-worth the investment.
5. Bundle Products
We have seen how successful bundling can be from the way it is done by most cable and internet companies. They will bundle services customers may want, bringing down the price of each service, thus providing value to the customer and increased sales for the company.
The trick is, creating more than a reasonable value for the trade-off.
For example, if you sell furniture, you’ll probably be pretty familiar with this concept. Let’s say you have a matching couch, love seat, and recliner. You mark them for sale separately at say, $500 for the couch, $375 for the love seat, and $350 for the recliner. Separately, the total cost is $1,225. You would make the prices for each very prominent.
But there would be a fourth price tag. The price tag would say “Bundle Deal”. Buy the complete set for only $900!
This deal ensures that you will move this set quickly, allowing for another set to be put in its place. Once the prospective buyer sees how much money they can save on the deal, they will be quicker to buy. As I mentioned, cable providers are famous for this concept. They have to be to stay competitive.
However, bundling products also help sales in another way. It’s called the “Happy Hour” concept. This concept can be (and should be) applied at multiple intervals, but this one will work as a simple concept for now.
In a bar, they have a bottle of alcohol. This bottle costs about $30 retail. They sell each shot for $6. There are about 30 shots in this bottle. The math would then go, 6x30 = 180-30 = 150. So, we established that the profit is roughly $150 per bottle. Pretty good, right?
If it takes about 8 hours to sell this bottle, that means a rough profit of $150 per every 8 hours.
Now, during Happy Hour, the price goes down to $3 per shot. Half price. Everybody in the establishment has waited for this one hour to really get their money’s worth. So, the crowd will jump on this deal and extinguish the bottle before the deal runs out. Now the math works out to 3x30 = 90-30 = 60. So, now we have established that the rough profit is only $60. Pretty big drop from the $150, right?
Wrong. You made more money.
That’s right, you made more money than you would have otherwise. Let’s look at the math again. 150/8 hours is $18.75 per hour. In the second example, Happy Hour, we made roughly over 3 times that amount in one hour.
You have now witnessed how standard belief can be wrong. And your math.
What does this have to do with bundling? A lot. If you take something that costs X and it would normally take 24 hours to move, and you change the price to B and it takes 12 hours to move, you made more money and faster. Bundling allows you to do this at a greater advantage because of the increase in value.
Now you simply repeat this process over and over and cha-ching!
6. Limited-Time Offers
In this instance, you can also apply the Happy Hour concept. But since we already covered that, let’s take a look at some other options available to you.
But first, let’s cover the core concept of Limited-Time Offers.
Limited-Time offers mean just that, you give the prospective buyer a limited amount of time to make a purchase at a deeply discounted price before the price returns to full or standard. I’ve seen so many companies try this, and fail. Horribly. Tragically. Hilariously!
No really, I don’t laugh at the misfortune of others, but you can’t help but at least think, “There is so much free information on line. What were you thinking?” Seriously, there is enough free information out on the web that even a little research can get your ideas at least off the ground.
Anyway, here is a brief method of converting from Limited-Time offers.
On the navigation bar, you can simply have a button that says, Pricing. Next to that button, a message that says, “Receive 50% Off” along with a countdown timer. Now the potential customer understands that in order to get 50% off, they have to press that button in the time allotted, or they miss out for good.
You have just combined the Happy Hour concept with the Urgency concept. Remember, you didn’t lose anything, you made more because you did it faster, and possibly more than once. So, if it normally takes you several hours to make a sale, you just made two in one hour, minus 50%, equaling one sale in one hour.
See? You made more, faster.
There are a million ways to implement the Limited-Time offer method of increasing sales, but your product, production costs, overhead will generally dictate the precise concept you implement. I would cover them all, but I’ll leave them for some training courses coming up.
7. Promote a Product Online
As we mentioned in the Brand Recognition section, online marketing is a very important option that small businesses should be looking into. Aside from promoting your entire business, using social media, video streaming sites, SEM (paid search), and SEO (organic search) to promote a new product can be very effective.
This can also be done in a number of ways. We’ll take a look at several of them.
Using social media to promote a product can work great, depending on the product in question. Remember, over saturation. Unless your audience is built in, you’ll play hell trying to promote vitamins. Why? Because everyone else and their mother (literally) have been doing that for several years, and to profound effect.
Like I said, unless you have a built-in audience or a big budget for marketing, you’ll want to either stick to niche items, or market to a niche crowd.
Promotion through social media does really depend on audience size, or followers. If you have 40,000 followers on Twitter with great engagement, then marketing your product through this platform should be a breeze.
If you don’t, start building now. No, seriously. If you’re not sure how, we’ll have a training course coming up on How to Grow Your Twitter Following coming soon. In fact, our company was never big on social media use because our search engine growth was fantastic without it. Maybe we lucked out, but we were able to grow at a rapid rate through providing business solutions to companies all over the world including first-rate content writing services. If you’d like to get a leg up on your social media growth, you could always use something like LinkedInfluence for a quicker bump.
However, we are now embarking on growing our Twitter followers and are using several very effective methods of doing so. We are also doing this through organic means – no paid ads. So, the process may be a bit slower, but it feels very natural.
Video streaming sites can be a very lucrative endeavor, but again, you are limited to your built-in audience. Yes, hashtags and such expand your reach and are, in fact, invaluable. But you must keep in mind that if you are using a hashtag that has about 30,000 posts made with it, your post will only go so far. Also keep in mind, that people love video and its popularity will only grow.
Paid search, or SEM (search engine marketing), is another option that can be very effective as long as you have two things: A) A big budget, and B) a killer landing page.
When I say landing page, I’m not talking about your home page or even your product page. You should have a unique landing page for every campaign, especially a search engine marketing campaign. If you are going to invest in SEM, you better have a destination that will convert the traffic, otherwise it was a waste.
Finally, organic search, otherwise known as search engine optimization or SEO. This is when you optimize your product’s description and surrounding page content with natural keyword use. This will give your content, and subsequent product, a boost in organic search rankings. This will help drive traffic long-term. You can research them with great depth yourself with fantastic results using software like Long-Tail Pro, or you can have your content writing service do this for you, if they offer this service. We offer keyword research and full optimization free with every order.
In any case, marketing your product online may seem pretty obvious, but when you start breaking down your options and methods, you’ll see there is actually a lot to it.
8. Create Loyalty Programs
Many small businesses look at loyalty programs as though they are some type of money sinkhole. But the truth is quite the opposite.
With a loyalty program, customers are able to feel as though they are getting rewarded for staying loyal to a company. Besides, you don’t actually have to invest cash for this method. You just have to do something that one of your customers would want. Make them feel special.
This can be done through providing a customer with a discount, something free, there are literally countless ways you can make this happen. For example, if your customer buys five items, make the sixth one free. Simple.
But remember, what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander. This means, what’s right for some may not be right for others. In other words: Test.
Loyalty programs are not and should not be fly-by-night offerings. They should be carefully constructed and tested repeatedly. And with the rule of testing, test small but test frequently. If you test too many components at once, you’ll never truly know which aspect was the trigger.
That’s why you test small: Make minor changes that you can track. Making too many changes all at once makes it more difficult to find what worked.
Test frequently: The more you test the more you learn about your customer’s behavior and the effectiveness of your campaigns.
Never lose sight of the goal, which is very simple. Make your customer feel special for choosing to give you their business. One big aspect of rewarding customer loyalty, is providing outstanding customer service all the time. No, this isn’t a Loyalty Program, but it is something you can ensure right now that can have a real and lasting effect.
Always try to keep in mind that your company is not the only one out there. And never believe that because you charge less that you have some leverage over your customers. It simply just isn’t true. Many people would choose to pay more if the experience was better, and that is a fact.
All Customer Loyalty programs begin with the service you provide your customers each and every day. And this part won’t cost you a cent.
9. Create a Referral Program
Never underestimate the power of a referral. While referrals are by no means guaranteed money, it doesn’t hurt to have a lead that was provided by an existing satisfied customer. If that doesn’t already give you a leg up on closing the deal, I don’t know what will.
If you have a loyal batch of customers who are buying your products on a regular basis, providing discounts in return for referrals should be a top priority.
While referrals are generally looked at as a customer referring someone to your business, you can expand its definition to include a wide variety of methods.
For example, regular customers can provide video and written testimonials about the quality of your product, along with writing reviews on sites such as Yelp, Amazon, and even your own website. Testimonials are a very powerful tool you can leverage to increase the sale of your products, and it doesn’t cost you a thing. Most people now will not make a purchase without significant reviews and positive feedback. You could pretty much regard every testimonial as a referral, when you look at it that way.
Or you could make things even more interesting and let your customers white label your service.
While these are stretching the definition of referrals, it all comes out in the wash. In the end, you are still getting increased sales from the help of your existing customers.
And the price? Free.
10. Diversify your Product Line
When all else fails, your company may need to look into diversification to increase the sales of your product. Even though diversifying is much harder for a small business than a larger company, it is still a possibility, but heavily depends on your business model and existing product line.
First off, diversification is always a good idea no matter what you do or where you are.
Think of it like this. If you are playing the stock market and you invest in a new startup, and that startup does well, you made money. Right? Right. So, why stop there? Take the money and split it between two different industries. Now you have an investment in a startup and investment in forex. Once you make more cash, split that. Now you have investments throughout startups, forex, Big Pharma, and whatever else you can put your two cents into.
See? Diversification. While diversifying in any capacity does carry with it a measure of risk, it is always a good idea. Why? Because staying inside your safety net means you will never grow. It means you will never have that big breakthrough.
Now, I’m not saying go bet your house on a new stock option. What I am saying, is you have to take certain gambles in life or you will never make it where you want to go. This couldn’t be more true than for small business owners.
If you are stuck in a rut, diversify your product line, diversify your management staff, or diversify the way you think. They’re all good options.
By diversifying your product line, you are essentially expanding your customer reach.
By diversifying your management team, you are introducing new ideas into the mix. I suggest speaking with lower-level employees. You might be surprised how a fresh perspective can change things and make you see things in a whole new light. Then give that person a promotion! They’ve earned it.
By diversifying your thought process, you are allowing yourself to see things from a different angle. Sometimes we all need to do that. We need to look at something differently to change. And change, my friend, is growth. It can lead to financial growth as well as personal growth.
In conclusion, try something new. If you aren’t happy with the way things are going in your business, try a new approach. You never know. It just might be the change you were looking for.
If I missed something, or if you have a suggestion, let me know in the comment section. If you enjoyed this blog or if you learned something new, don’t forget to like and subscribe!