Optimizing your down time
Every business has lulls in traffic for various reasons, from seasonal to the condition of the Dow Jones. As a SEO specialist it's my job to get my clients (and myself) to the top of the search engines, a process that becomes more complicated and costly every month it seems. So once the site is optimized, sitemaps submitted, backlinks building, social networks joined and a partridge in a pear tree is all done, now what do we do when the phone is still quiet?
I may be a little old school, but I like to network with people in my down time. This can be done dozens of ways from the standard Chamber of Commerce network groups to joining a chat room, but I find that getting out of your box is the best way to make connections, without even trying to; and you can get much more than new clients out of it.
Take a walk
Some of the best people I've met in my city is in parks on walking trails. Albeit Manchester NH is one very friendly city, so if you live in one that isn't, skip this part. Look up parks in your area with walking trails and stretch your legs during the weekend or even a lunch break. Smile and say hi to others, but don't be creepy about it, and you just might meet another business owner or decision maker you can network with. If not, at least you'll make new friends, and that can also lead to new connections in your community.
I know it's during the day, but if you're just sitting there anyway, get on Facebook and Google Plus and look for groups and discussions that have to do with your industry. Answer questions or just join the conversation, without being a commercial advertisement. If it comes up, you should of course mention your business and maybe give a link to check you out online. You should post to your Google Plus page at least once a week, making sure you use relevant keywords to attract others to your posts.
Verify your web presence
Even though you've worked hard to make sure you business is listed correctly everywhere, many sites may have outdated information about your company. Check out sites like Manta, FourSquare and Yelp, and search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, MerchantCircle, Yellow and White Pages, CitySearch and Local.com. If you get a Yext Powerlisting, you can have them do most of the heavy lifting for a pretty good price.
Write in your Blog
If you have a Joomla or WordPress site (or other CMS) take some time to write a blog entry, If you don't have a blog on your website, get a free one at www.WordPress.org and then link it to and from your site. Blog posts should be entertaining, informative and engaging, so be creative, tell a story or solve a problem, and avoid making it into an advertisement.
Pick up the phone
Like I said, I'm old school, so when things get slow, I revert back to my roots and call some clients, old prospects in my notes or even just send out a newsletter to my existing clients with relevant news or information about web design and marketing. You'd be surprised how quickly my phone has started ringing with clients that were reminded that they wanted some web changes or something and got things rolling again.
Ask for referrals
If you have existing clients, it never hurts to ask them for referrals. Many people have friends that can benefit from your services, but don't think about it their daily activities. Reaching out and asking for help triggers a psychological reaction in the people being asked, and they instinctively want to help you out. Try sending out a mass email to all your 'satisfied' clients asking them for 5 referrals, with a reward for each that becomes a new client.
The best advice I can give is to relax! It can be hard waiting for the phones to ring, but stressing it will only make things worse, and make you sound desperate when the phone does ring. Use your time effectively, do your research and post about your services wherever you can online. After awhile, you won't have time to worry about what you should be doing in your downtime, you won't have any.