Sales Are Down? Don’t panic. Do this instead.

– “Gill, I’m worried. My traffic is down. My list isn’t growing. I don’t see as much engagement on my posts. And the sales are down, too.

Before, I used to just wing it – write about what I want and do my marketing as I pleased – and my digital products and courses were just selling themselves. 

And now… it’s just not working the way it used to.

What do you think I should do?

Should I change my website tagline and create more landing pages?”

– “I don’t know.”

– “Or rebrand myself?”

– “No idea.”

– “Or maybe start a membership site and offer premium insights?”

– “No freaking clue.”

– “I know a marketer who grew his list to 20K on LinkedIn and who’s swearing that this is the way. Should I do that?”

– 🤷

– “Wow, Gill, you seem pretty useless for someone who helps people sell more through their websites. Do you know anything at all?”

– “Yes. This 👇

What to do when sales are down

How to stop panicking about a decline in your online sales and leads, and come up with a clear plan to get your business running like a slick lead-generating machine (again).

Before we talk about what you can do, let’s talk about the exact opposite.

What NOT to do when sales are down

You may have tried all of these ways and noticed that they don’t help you get your sales back up but rather make you panic even more.

But just so we’re on the same page:

  • Don’t throw stuff on the wall and hope it sticks:  Don’t make random changes to your web copy and landing pages just because you read about them in a “10 must-have elements of a great landing page” post. Creating a website that generates leads is much more than following generic tips. 
  • Don’t blindly follow a strategy of some guy who claims they were able to earn millions / grow their list to 100K / retire at 30 with his “magical method.” There is much more to succeeding with a strategy than just blindly following the steps you don’t even know are complete.
  • Don’t change your strategy too often, without giving it time to start working properly.
  • Don’t follow any strategy you aren’t comfortable with (even if others swear by it). There are always ways to generate enough business by loving what you do / without compromising your principles. 

Instead, do this to get a clear plan on how to increase your sales & leads

The drop in sales you’re observing has three possible reasons:

  • Wrong audience you market to
  • Wrong places you market at
  • Wrong ways you market

There may be only one reasons that applies to your situation, two, or all three.

Yes, I know.

The way you did things in the past used to work. But there was also one time in history where this planet was populated by dinosaurs🦖🦕🌴

Things change:

  • Your niche may have changed, and new competitors who cater to your audience better may have entered the market
  • Your loyal fans may have outgrown your content, and you haven’t acquired enough new ones
  • Third parties you relied on (Google, social media) has changed their algorithms, and your content doesn’t get the same reach now, etc.

Here’s how to figure out why you’re losing sales and leads, and what to do about it.

#1 Imagine you were starting from scratch

Pretend that you:

  • Already have all these products and services you’d like to sell
  • Don’t have an email list or following
  • Don’t have a website
  • Aren’t doing any marketing

Now, think about the people who’d be thrilled to buy from / hire you:

  • Who are these people: what do they do, where do they live, what interests do they have, etc.?
  • What problems do they struggle with that your offers help solve?
  • Are they actively looking for a solution? If they do, where and how?
  • Who are your competitors? How do their websites look like? How do they do their marketing?

Not sure how to define your target audience? Or if you defined it right?

Check out my online course Business Soul Searching that will help you:

  • Clearly define your target audience
  • Understand which benefits of your services your prospects value most
  • Decide what services to focus on
  • Uncover your unique value proposition
  • Understand what it’ll take to make your website stand out

…and create copy that resonates with your prospects and consistently generates new business.

Tell me more!

Once you (re)defined your audience, a one million dollar question to answer would be:

How does the audience you just defined compares to the audience you’re currently targeting?

It’s possible that you’re:

  • Attracting the wrong people (too wide, too narrow, completely wrong targeting)
  • Looking for your ideal clients at the wrong places
  • Failing to convert your (successfully attracted) ideal audience because of a mismatch between their needs and the messaging on your website

#2 (Re)define your focus

After you went through step#1, it should become evident to you whether you need to pivot: Start attracting a different audience and/or change the focus of your website accordingly.

Or maybe not. Maybe it’s indeed the “climate change” that’s causing a decline in sales, and you’ll just need to adapt.

In any case, before thinking about radical measure, there are some low hanging fruit to reap.

#3 Find the low hanging fruit

Do this ONLY AFTER you completed steps #1 and #2.

Often, it’s easier to fix an existing strategy than come up and execute a new one.

For example, it’s easier to:

  • Tweak your email marketing than start a membership site.
  • Improve engagement on a social network you already have some following than start building an audience somewhere else from scratch.
  • Optimize your existing content for search than to write a bunch of new posts. 

What are your low hanging fruit?

If you do email marketing

  • Don’t have a welcome sequence? Create one.
  • Have a welcome sequence? Analyze it to see whether:
    • The order of the emails make sense
    • There are emails that are clearly underperforming (Could it be too long, too short, not relevant enough? Could the email subject or call-to-action be improved?)
    • It makes sense to make your welcome sequence longer / shorter
    • It makes sense to add a couple of more promotional emails dedicated solely to your paid offers
  • Start segmenting your audience:
    • Ask them to actively self-segment in one of your emails in the welcome sequence
    • Segment them automatically based on the links they click in your emails

Results: Decreased unsubscribe rates, better engagement with your emails (and premium offers you market via email). 

If you have many articles on your blog

Hire an SEO consultant and ask them to:

  • Analyze all the content on your site and tell you if optimization for your focus (whatever you decided in step #2) will bring any results.
  • If your existing content doesn’t fit your new focus well enough, what kind of content is still missing that you’d have to create.
  • Start optimizing your content for your new focus as soon as possible.

Results: Increased targeted traffic from search – more people who are already looking for what you offer landing on your website, ready to give you their money.

If you market on social media

Think if you want to continue.

You’re already a small business owner who wears many hats. Do you think it’s worth investing your precious time into third-party websites where you have little control over who gets your posts shown in their cluttered feeds?

Or can you imagine spending your time on something more useful and transparent? Because it’s possible that you may never get enough sales from social media that would justify the time and money you spend on it.

This survey of the digital marketing activity of 500+ small and medium businesses in the UK showed that social media isn’t as effective selling channel as many assume:

Data chart: How time and money spent on a traffic source translates into conversions
Survey results of 500+ small and medium businesses: Here’s how time and money spent on a traffic source translate into conversions.

If you decide to continue, think of how you could achieve the same or better results with less effort:

  • Repurpose your blogs and email newsletters for social posts
  • Repackage the content you already shared (that’s what I do with The Copy Cat)
  • Diversify the way you present your content: text-only, image-only, image + text, slides, a short video etc.

If you feel like you’re repeating yourself, don’t worry. Especially if your engagement is still low, there will be way more people who haven’t seen that piece of info than those who did (and they won’t mind, either).

Results: Building your audience faster with less effort.

#4 What now?

It’s hard to tell what to do after the steps #1-#3. At least not as a “one-fits-all approach.”

Maybe you won’t have to do anything. Because after you’ve:

…it’s possible that your online sales and inquiries increased, and are happy as a cucumber.

In case it still didn’t help, it is probably time to try new things. Which ones depends a lot on your particular situation.


A quick reminder to you, a ridiculously talented and skilled professional whose products and services are making the lives of their customers SO much easier (but who still feels uneasy about marketing themselves) 👇

Your prospects want you to be more direct about your offers. Because you aren’t selling. You’re solving their problems for money.Click To Tweet

Leave a Comment

2 thoughts on “Sales Are Down? Don’t panic. Do this instead.”

  1. Gill, I really appreciate your transparency and honesty here. It is encouraging (at least!) to know that it is not our stupidity that doesn’t make us 6 figures as easy as all those gurus out there (claim that they) make. Repurposing content is such a strong advice. Thank you!

    • Thank you very much for your kind words, Kate 🙂 Happy to hear you found the article useful. And no, it’s certainly not our stupidity that doesn’t let us make 6 figures a year as easy as they claim it should be 🙂

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