How can I get my small business ready for the holidays?
Updated: Nov 14, 2019
We all know the drill...
Walk into most stores this time every year and decorated Christmas trees, huge inflatable snowmen, and aisles of red and green wrapping paper line the aisles. Ready or not - the holidays are coming, and they are coming quickly. (plus, in South Florida we have the double whammy of our busy tourist season!)
If a small business owner asked me, "Hey Steph, when should I start working on my company's digital marketing for the holiday season?" My professional (yet, super, unhelpful) answer would be, "Well, last January". But, wait!
Before you stop reading because all hope is lost - have no fear! Yes... the holidays are a few weeks away, but there is still time to set your business up for a great season of holiday sales.
These 3 easy steps will get your small business ready to take on the holidays!
1 – You know how you have been avoiding social media? It's time to get over your fear or irritation. Today is the day to start building brand awareness and momentum on social media.
Let this sink in: Almost 90 percent of marketers say their social marketing efforts have increased exposure for their business, and 75 percent say they’ve increased traffic. (source: Small Business Trends)
If you are a small business owner, your audience IS on social media - and you need to be there too. Social media is an effective, relatively inexpensive way to find potential holiday customers. The key is that you have to get serious about your social media - starting today. Why? A customer that is familiar with your brand will be more likely to purchase from you vs. your competitor.
Let me give you an example -
There are two online companies that sell the exact same shoes, at the exact same price. However, they have very different approaches when it comes to social media.
Company A has an active social media presence and shares helpful interesting content consistently on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. On their Instagram, they share the story of how the family started the business, display beautiful images of cool shoes, give helpful tips on choosing the perfect shoes for an outfit, post fun videos showing their team members having fun at an off-site event, and have occasional contests for their fans. Plus, they reach out and comment on their customer's feeds & even feature their fans posts.
Company B also has a Facebook & Instagram page. But because they are not comfortable with using social media, they post occasionally - usually when they are having a promotion. They don't interact or share valuable content with their audience.
Let me ask you - when there is a huge holiday sale from both local businesses - which one would would you purchase the shoes from?
The lesson? Start building meaningful, authentic relationships with your community on social media - before you even thinking about introducing any holiday marketing. It will pay off with engaged fans that will happily give you their business when shopping during the holidays.
“The best marketing strategy ever: Care.” - Gary Vaynerchuck
2 - Get to work building your email list!
I know... building an email list seems difficult and isn't as "sexy" as other types of marketing. But, before you throw in the towel, consider this - email is a "significantly more effective way to acquire customers than social media. People who buy products marketed through email spend 138% more than those who do not receive email offers." (source: McKinsey & Company)
See what I am saying? Email marketing is the "king of the marketing castle." A simple and effective email newsletter campaign will allow you to share upcoming holiday sales, events, offerings, or other happenings. This strategy allows you to continue building relationships through the holiday season and beyond. Like social media, it is cheap to execute and keeps you on the top of your customer's and your potential customers mind. Like they say, out of sight, out of mind!
Start here: Mailchimp is a FREE service that helps you manage your email / newsletter campaigns. Click here to learn more!
(By the way, I am going to write another blog in a few days giving more specific information about building your email list using free guides and one page websites. Join our email list to be notified when I post it!)
"When your headlights aren’t on, the best rearview mirror available isn’t likely to improve your driving.” - Martha Rogers
3 – Yes. You need a holiday marketing strategy.
Small business owners are visionaries. We want our customers to love our product or service, to be regarded as the "best in class" and to stand out among the competition. All of these things are achievable.
However..... (guys, I need you to listen closely... this is tough love because I want you to break the bad habits of holiday's past!)
For the love of all things holy, if you don't have a strategy aligned against set goals that are focused on your target audience's wants and needs, you will walk into the holiday season "flying by the seat of your pants", without clear direction or clear objectives.
The holidays arrive - and we all know what happens, as small business owners we get super busy. We try and manage the increased customer traffic - and jump from one marketing idea to another marketing idea, hoping that by some Christmas miracle, our unplanned approach results in record-breaking sales.
But this year will be different! Let's set your business up to have a crazy successful holiday - start getting to work creating a simple marketing strategy.
When developing a holiday strategy, here are a few questions to consider:
Who is your target audience?
What will be your holiday sales goal?
How will you accomplish the goal?
Will you offer a special holiday product or service? Will you offer special discounts?
What holiday promotion strategy will you use?
Social media, newsletter, in-store events, digital ads? All of the above?
Will you create any social media campaigns (for example, a "12 Days of Christmas" campaign - with cool gifts & surprises for your fans)?
If you have an e-commerce business, will you need to create promo codes for sales?Who will help you make the marketing plan happen?
Do you need money or special resources to execute?
For local Florida small business owners - how will you manage the holiday planning and the busy tourism season?
Are there any holiday trends unique to your industry that you should plan for?
“Without strategy, execution is aimless." - Unknown
4 - Bonus tip! Be sure to sign up for "Small Business Saturday"
In 2010, American Express launched Small Business Saturday - a national event set aside to celebrate small businesses in your local community. Each year, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the company encourages people to "Shop Small" and spend their holiday dollars within their own neighborhoods.
The company spends millions in their own advertising dollars to launch a campaign designed to honor & support YOU - you amazing local hero you!
If your business accepts American Express and qualifies, you can be listed on the company's "Shop Small®" map. To confirm your eligibility, review the merchant FAQ section. If you qualify, login to your merchant account to make sure your business is listed and everything looks correct. Be sure to check the box "Get Free Exposure". (Need more incentive? According to American Express, In 2018, nearly 17 million people received recommendations on where to shop from visiting the map online.)
The company also offers free resources and marketing materials, including social media assets, custom flyers, and signs. Take a look today and don't miss this great FREE opportunity for brand exposure!
These tips WILL work - if you actually do them!
We would love to help your small business set & achieve your holiday goals. Some of the services we offer include: social media strategy, social media management, content marketing (including blog writing), newsletters, local marketing strategy, SEO, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Google Ads, landing pages, and more.
If you would like to see if we can help create a holiday strategy, book a free 30 minute discovery session with me. (I love, love, love working with small business owners!)
So, let me know what you think! Drop a comment or jump over to our Facebook or Instagram pages and join our community of local small business owners!
All the Best!