It’s November already which means Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Before we can blink, it will be Christmas! Is your small business prepared for the holidays? The holidays create a huge revenue opportunity for businesses. For some businesses, the holidays may be peak season and you don’t want to miss out! If you haven’t started planning, we want to discuss some holiday marketing tips you can use for your small business.
Here are some tips for marketing your small business during the holidays.
The Early Bird Gets the Worm
The most important thing your business can do is to begin marketing for the holidays early. The earlier the better, as it will provide you time to be creative, add new inventory, test strategies and re-evaluate if necessary. You aren’t scrambling to come up with ideas for a campaign and hope it is successful. Don’t try to shoot a bull’s-eye in the dark. Planning ahead for the holidays will help your business be more successful during the holidays.
It seems that every year brands start advertising for the holidays earlier and earlier. Your business doesn’t want to wait until the last minute to begin your holiday marketing. Take this time to grab their attention. Many companies are planning for the holidays during the summer months in order to launch by October. According to a survey conducted by Experian Marketing Services, about 49% of marketers launch their holiday campaigns before Halloween.
Goals & Campaigns
Just like with other marketing campaigns you run throughout the year, you will need to establish clear goals for the holiday campaign(s). Do you know your audience? For a successful campaign, you need to have a good understanding of their needs and interests. Research your best customers to learn what has worked well in the past. What didn’t work?
How many campaigns will you launch? Consider only launching one campaign per week. What channels will you use to promote? The more channels you utilize for customers to seek information about your offer, the better. Don’t just limit yourself to an email. You should consider your website, social media, blog, app, in-store (if applicable) and telephone. Will you have a backup plan?
Do you have a promotional schedule planned? This might be hard for some but Christmas isn’t the only holiday. You can consider Election Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Day. As a small business, I would definitely want to promote Small Business Saturday.
What is your offer? The goal should get consumers/customers interested enough that they take action. People love good deals and this is especially true during the holiday season.
Are you able to offer free shipping throughout the holiday? Offers such as free shipping will incentive customers! However, as a small business you may not be able to financially offer this. You might instead offer free shipping over a certain amount, such as all orders over $75.
Don’t forget to pamper your loyal customers! During the holidays many of us give gifts to one another. This is the perfect time for you to give gifts to your loyal customers. The gift does not have to be expensive but it should be something that shows your appreciation for their business. You could offer them a discount for their next purchase or offer early access to new products. Whatever you choose to do, your customers should feel valued and important.
You’ve Got Mail!
Do you have a newsletter? If not, MailChimp is an email marketing service we would recommend. It is a free service, as long as you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers and send no more than 12,000 emails per month. With MailChimp, you can select from a variety of holiday-themed templates for your newsletters.
You will want to consider the amount of clutter your customers receive in their inboxes during the holidays. What will make them open your newsletter? How will you stand out? What holiday promotions will you have included in your newsletter?
You may also want to mail physical holiday cards to your customers. If you can spend the time to create and send cards to your customers, it will stand out to your customers. Personalize each holiday card (perhaps even hand-written) and take the opportunity to thank them for their business and support. It’s not very often we receive hand-written letters. Make your customers feel special this holiday season.
Are you in the holiday spirit on all your platforms? To help reflect the holidays you can swap out your social images. You might consider updating your cover photos on Facebook and Twitter to promote your holiday promotion or a holiday theme. You can also update your website to reflect the holiday season. Making these changes will enhance the overall experience when visitors come to your website or social media. If you have the budget, you might even consider updating your logo to get in the spirit too.
If you are in e-commerce, be sure to increase your website bandwidth during peak times. (Example: Black Friday or Cyber Monday) If you aren’t prepared during these high traffic times, you will find some very unhappy customers. Don’t let this happen to you!
Making a Difference
Is your business making a difference in the community? The holidays are the perfect opportunity to get involved in local events or volunteer work. Involvement will help build relationships and can lead to growth. After all, it is a form of networking. Community involvement creates brand awareness to both potential customers and investors.
During the holiday, your business might want to participate in a local food drive. You can promote this on your website and social media for your customers to see. Or perhaps you will donate a percentage for every product sold during the month of December. Whatever projects your business participates in that reflect your mission, your audience will notice. People connect with businesses that are not only involved in their community but also passionate about making a difference.
Staffing & Excellent Customer Service
Do you have enough staff during the holidays? You want to make sure you have enough help for not just customer service but all departments such as sales or orders fulfillments. If you don’t have enough staff to help during the holidays, consider posting job openings. Get the word on out social media, your store front, or website.
As a small business owner, your customer service is extremely important. Not just during the holiday season, but all year round. Sometimes we are so busy we can forget about delivering customer service that shines. This is your time to go above and beyond your customers’ expectations.
If you have new staff, ensure they understand the company policy and are well trained to handle difficult customers during the holidays. Your staff, whether permanent or seasonal are your customers first impression of the business. Ensure they are representing the company in a positive and professional manner.
Is your inventory ready? You need to make sure you’ve projected the demand for your products during the holiday season. How can you avoid inventory shortages? As a small business owner, you have access to data. Look at your sales from last year to review trends, the current stock on hand, and the success you’ve had throughout the year.
What products are your best sellers? If you have new products that will launch during the holidays, are you prepared? Don’t forget to utilize automation tools for your inventory. It will help avoid human error and increase efficiency, thus saving your business money.
Examples of Brands Already Marketing for the Holidays
Brands like Starbucks, Amazon and American Express are already marketing for the holidays. Brands aren’t just marketing on their websites, they are using email, social and SMS. Perhaps you have already noticed the holiday spirit from certain brands.
How does your business prepare for the holiday? Share your ideas in the comments below!