Connecting Customers With Christmas: Holiday Advice for Small Businesses
The holiday season is the most important part of the year for many businesses, and for a great many, particularly retailers, it’s make-or-break time. In fact, the holiday season accounts for 20 percent of the retail industry’s annual sales. So having a proactive, dynamic plan of attack for the holiday shopping season is more than just an opportunity – for many it is a matter of survival. The cumulative buying power of online Christmas shoppers and on-site customer traffic comprise the best chance a small business has to meet and exceed sales goals for the year. Here are a few marketing strategies and “in-store” suggestions aimed at influencing customer behavior and maximizing your bottom line this holiday season.
Promotions and incentives
The holidays are the optimal time to reach out to customers with promotions and incentives. Remember that holiday shoppers will be inundated with online deals, so you’ll need to jump in with both feet in order to stay competitive at this crucial time of year. For online shoppers, make sure your website is tasteful, holiday-focused, easy to navigate, is fully functional (all links should work) and not overly commercialized (which may put off some customers). For in-store shoppers, consider offering buy-one-one deals or a free gift with purchase. Those little things can go a long way toward sales and snagging a customer for life.
Bang the drum through social media
Social media is one of the most cost-effective ways to get the word out any time of year. It’s particularly important during the holidays when your advertising and in-store expenditures tend to increase. For many people, social media is how they interact with their favorite businesses, keeping tabs on new offerings and special offers.
There are many ways to utilize this important marketing venue. For example, you might give away gift cards to your followers who leave notable and creative messages concerning your products on other pages. It’s a simple and inexpensive way to build customer loyalty and generate revenue at an important time of the shopping season.
As a business with a physical storefront, the last thing you want is to be the only retailer in your area without Christmas decorations. It makes you look disengaged and aloof, and customers may wonder why your business is the only one that isn’t in step with the holiday vibe. Decorating should be a no-brainer, a promotional tactic that can be done inexpensively. Remember, you don’t want to be notable for not having decorated for Christmas.
Email outreach is another easy and inexpensive form of marketing you can aim directly at customers. It’s effective because it gives you a personalized way to communicate with people on your email list with holiday sales and special offers that seems tailored just for them. These messages should have a special holiday look and feel. Remember, you’re trying to make a direct connection with your clientele and prospective customers.
Everybody loves a party, especially during the holidays. For a retailer, it’s a way of saying “Thank you” to customers. This could be a catered event with entertainment and special gift giveaways, discounts for attendees, and special promotional offers. Consider adding a grand prize gift giveaway to wrap up the evening. One important objective of such an event is to generate buzz online and create word-of-mouth in the community, especially if you plan to donate any proceeds from your big event. If you choose to make a donation to a local community charitable organization, you might want to announce it at your holiday party and send out a press release with a formal announcement.
Be targeted and strike the right balance with your holiday marketing efforts. Your website and social media outreach efforts should be targeted and Christmas-focused without being tasteless or overly “salesy.” The best online marketing efforts connect customers directly with your products or services in an entertaining and compelling fashion.
So roll up your sleeves and jump in. The holiday season can be a roller coaster ride, but it will be worth the effort for your bottom line and to boost your customer base. Good luck and happy holidays!
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