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Overcoming Slow Periods: Tactics Every DTC Leader Needs

Deep insights on how to survive sales slumps

Hey everyone,

Welcome back to another bite to chew on.

Today we’re going to talk about something that every DTC founder or operator dreads. 

Slow periods. Sales slumps.


No matter how great your product, how slick your marketing, how cool your brand…

You’re going to hit them. 

Sometimes it’s seasonal. Everyone in the game has points on the calendar that are hot.

And others that are not.

But sometimes it comes out of nowhere, too. 

It’s impossible to grow evenly day after day, week after week.

Every company has those peaks and valleys, plateaus and nosedives.

But slumps can hurt. Droughts can impact cash flow and profitability.

Here’s what we do at Obvi when we hit a random slump…

Or know when the calendar has one in store for us.

Step zero - see the forest for the trees

Alright before you do anything, let’s take a step back. 

You should be tracking your sales and ad spend, daily. 

Even if it’s as simple as a Google or excel sheet that you fill out every morning.

(Which btw – we’re coming out with a template of the cash flow tracker we use at Obvi

Stay tuned…)

Ok back to it - 

This running tally gives you a sense of the variance in your revenue, cost of acquisition (CAC), contribution margin, and net sales. 

If you don’t have this intuitive sense of your natural “up and down”,

Or at least an easily reviewable history,

It can be easy to misunderstand a random hot or cold day. 

So you should be arming yourself with the “base rate” of your daily sales and key marketing ratios. 

Step One - don’t panic 

Every entrepreneur and founder is familiar with it. 

The fear. 

No matter how many sales you have under your belt. 

How rapid your growth.

How many 5-star reviews on your store.

There’s that fear that the music will just…stop one day. 

That people will no longer buy.

That the business is doomed. 

That’s what every sudden cold snap can conjure up in us. 

A presage of doom.  

But….unless you are still fighting for product market fit,

Or something really fundamental in your market or business has changed,

Then THE FEAR is usually unfounded. 

Remember - everyone has slow periods.

Of course, this absolutely doesn’t mean do nothing at all. We are not voting for complacency.

(The fear is what keeps a lot of us sharp and hungry, after all.) 

So, first thing to do after NOT panicking is - check the macro environment. 

Is there something happening - beyond your control - that may be impacting your customer’s buying behavior?

Natural disasters, emergencies, Meta bugs, Black Swan events…with this stuff you usually just have to ride it out. 

Just make sure to adjust your ad spend accordingly.

You should also check your historical trends. Is this one of those “scheduled” dry spells we talked about? If so, skip down the page…

Okay - it’s a real drought

If you’ve eliminated macro and seasonal influences, the next option is to take a closer look at your funnel. 

Look at key results, starting with your acquisition (ie; ads).

Then work your way down through your website, UX, cart, and retention flows.

Question: is there an uncharacteristic drop-off somewhere? 

Dig in to see if you can find pinch points or friction. 

Sometimes it’s as simple as an element in your tech stack not working. 

  • A quiz that’s glitching. 

  • An email flow on the fritz

  • A PDP add to cart button that doesn’t, you know, “add to cart”

Think - when’s the last time you refreshed your ad creative? Is it starting to fatigue? Do you need to find a new audience?

Also, here’s a quick cheat to test your funnel - send your high-traffic PDP or LP to someone you know (neighbor, friend, relative) and ask them to make a purchase. 

Just to see if they stumble on an issue or if there is something they struggle with. 

You’d be surprised how often a sales blip can come down to some element of your user experience or funnel that is suddenly causing huge friction. 

If you see drop off or pinch points in your analysis

Simply take some time to test and check each element, top-to-bottom. 

Tool of the Week

Speaking of reviewing your funnel – 

If you’re in DTC and not using server-side tracking these days, you’re basically flying blind. 

Tracking customer events has become super difficult over the years. 

Not only do you have to worry about your website, but all of the various touchpoints (and devices!) customers use to interact with you.

Think about it. You have Google Ads, GA4, Meta, Klaviyo/email/SMS, TikTok , etc…

All begging for clean, accurate data in a post-ios14 world. 

That’s why we moved to Elevar for our server-side tracking a while ago and we haven’t looked back since. 

They guarantee (and deliver) 99% or better customer journey accuracy. 

In fact, our match rate and conversion accuracy data improved by almost 40% right after we put Elevar to use. 

And, best of all, they send all of this attribution information back to your various channels, making your analysis (and their algorithms) a lot more accurate. 

Given the improvement in retargeting and abandoned cart revenue we’ve seen since we added Elevar 

We can say it is one of the highest ROI additions we’ve made to our tech stack over the years. 

The good news is, they offer a 15-day free trial just in case you aren’t sure. 

Need help with expert implementation? They do that too. No reason NOT to check them out, right?

Alright, let’s get back to talking about overcoming your slumps…

Step three - squeeze the sponge

Maybe your funnel is intact. Everything seems to be humming along, but people aren’t buying.


You’ve been collecting emails and phone numbers, right? (of course you have).

Your list can be a valuable way to drum up sales during a slump. 

No doubt you have your evergreen or business-as-usual (BAU) flows and campaigns up and optimized - 

But sometimes it takes a clever campaign or segment-specific offer to break up a dry spell. 

This is probably not the time to blast your whole list, so try to narrow down a target and create a clever or bespoke offer for them.

Discounts are a no-brainer and the easy go-to -  

But it doesn’t have to be that basic (especially since they erode your contribution margin).

There are other options - 

  • A personal message from the founder

  • An exciting sweepstakes or contest

  • A limited-time product drop or bundle

  • A free gift with purchase (FGWP) if you buy spend X or buy within Y time

Or even some mix of these. 

Naturally, be sure to tie the campaign/offer to the nature of the segment as well. 

Be it new customers, existing VIPs, product-interest specific or persona-specific, etc. 

A campaign that resonates is more likely to convert. 

And it will seem more interesting/special, making it more likely to evoke excitement or FOMO.


Be aware that you are “squeezing the sponge” with this tactic.

Meaning - you’re exploiting a portion of the in-market/bottom-funnel demand that you have built up. 

You can’t do this all the time because it can squeeze the sponge dry. 

Or you may train customers to constantly “wait” for the next cool offer. 

But it is an option in a pinch.

Step four - Mapping your marketing calendar

This is something you have to do in advance, but…

It can pay to review your monthly, quarterly, and annual trends. 

Understand the recurring soft spots in your calendar. 

And then plan to do something about them.

Sure, that can mean restricting your marketing budget or avoiding big-ticket investments.

It’s intuitive to build your calendar around the hot spots.

But you can also aim to drive awareness and interest in the off-season. 

Create reasons for customers to engage and buy.

Think of Amazon’s Prime Day - 

A shopping experience specifically made to overcome the doldrums of summer. It’s now one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

Or take a look at Ridge’s annual summer sweepstakes. 

Where they partner with a major automotive brand to give away a killer vehicle.

Another brand moment created to fight the summer slump. 

We know, we know…you probably aren’t as big as Amazon or Ridge. 

But you don’t have to be. 

Even relatively modest prizes or events, tied to something relevant to your audience,

Can help generate awareness, interest, or purchases,

When your market is typically quiet. 

Are you in the outdoor category? Don’t wait till camping and barbecue season to build killer campaigns. 

Get something going in March for the first day of spring - a time when your target market might be getting anxious to get back outside.  

Does your audience love sports? Find a big game or tournament on the calendar in the shoulder season. 

Tie a brand moment to that. 

Whatever you choose, just remember that you can sculpt your marketing calendar to both drive the peaks AND even out the valleys.

Take a deep breath

No matter what you do, it’s inevitable. 

Slow periods happen to everyone.

All we can offer is this survival guide to get you through - 

  • Be aware of daily sales (but don’t live and die by them)

  • Widen your view of your business to smooth out emotional peaks and valleys

  • Don’t panic. Review, interpret, test, and take action if needed 

  • Your email/SMS list can occasionally be “squeezed” to alleviate droughts

  • Don’t just plan your marketing activity around the boom times in your calendar

We’ll finish today with this -

Ever heard of loss aversion

It’s the human tendency that makes us feel the down times more keenly than the big wins.

Which is why fear of loss can often drive bad decisions. 

Just remember… 

You’re not alone. We all go through it. You know your business. You know your numbers. 

You’ve got this.

All the best, 

Ron and Ash