How to take advantage of the holiday season & get more business

Young Woman Sitting on Couch Holding Christmas Present and Wearing Santa Hat

Dear M & M:

How do I take advantage of the holiday season to get more business in my store?

– Carol

Dear Carol:

Regardless of your industry, the holiday season holds many effective and engaging marketing opportunities. Whether you’re sending an email campaign or targeting mobile users, it’s about connecting with key audiences in a casual, fun way. The holidays are a time to finish the year out strong and prepare for the New Year. Take advantage of the seasonal trends and get your marketing in the holiday spirit. Here are a few examples to generate more sales during this peak season.

Host an Open House: Open early or stay later. An open house at your business is a perfect way to celebrate the season with new and old customers alike. You provide the snacks and the space, and the guests will take care of the rest. Of course, you can advertise your open house via social media and post pictures and videos of it afterwards.

Support a Charity: While this may seem old-fashioned to you, running a holiday food drive or a raffle for a worthy cause makes a lot of sense during the holidays. Not only are you doing something good for the world, but you are involving your customers in the endeavor as well, which creates goodwill. Use images and updates on your charity doings on all of your social media pages. Creating space outside your store or somewhere inside might generate additional traffic from people who support them.

Partner with Another Business: Set up a photographer to do photos of pets if you are a groomer or sell products people with pets like to buy. Let’s say you love the idea of an open house but you run your business out of your home office. You would be reasonable not to want strangers traipsing through your home, but you can still reap the benefits of an open house this year by partnering with another business or organization. A local restaurant, for example, has the space. Partner with them to host a holiday open house that will allow both businesses to shine. Another idea is to get involved with any of the many events already being held in your town like the Festival of Trees, Christmas Parade, Tree Lighting in the Park, etc.

Go the Extra Mile: Always have someone on hand to greet your customer with a smile. Offer a token festive treat like a cookie, candy cane, warm apple cider or hand out product samples. Think of ways to go that extra mile for your customers, for example, free gift wrapping. Purchase inexpensive gift wrap and look for a student or volunteer group to wrap the gifts. Why not hand out wish list cards and ask customers to list their favorite items from your store and for a chance to win a prize and have them resister using their email accounts – then follow-up with them a week or so later by email to remind them that their items are still in stock or at a minimum thank them for visiting your store.  Let them know you are generating an email list to send to preferred customers discounts and coupons for savings or special offers. You are on your way to be able to market to them next year. You might have something they want to buy in July.

Mobile Opportunities: The trend toward mobile devices takes no time off for the holiday season, 12% of visits to retail websites were made from a mobile device. Consumers are constantly using their phones during the holidays to compare prices, get product reviews, and make purchases. This trend not only serves as a key reminder for businesses to be mobile compliant but creates a great opportunity for mobile advertising.

Be Ready – check inventory, staff-up, and think of ways to keep everyone in your store happy and motivated. Look back at last year’s holiday season and at the trends for 2013 so far. What products have been your biggest sellers? What marketing efforts have led to the most successful measurable results? In some ways, replicating past campaigns with a few changes can lead to positive outcomes. Take the time to track your sales trends and tie them back into surrounding events. The time to start your holiday marketing efforts is now. It’s estimated that between October and November 40% of Americans will start their holiday shopping.

 -M&M

To ask your questions: Call the Small Business Development Center(SBDC) at Cochise College (520)-515-5478 or email schmittm@cochise.edu or contact the Sierra Vista Economic Development Foundation(EDF) at 520-458-6948 or email  hollism@svedf.org .

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