It seems like every year, the stores start stocking their Christmas items earlier and earlier, don’t they? There are barely any spots for the pumpkins and ghosts because they’re being crowded out by snowmen and evergreens already. If you’re a small business owner, this should be your warning sign: the holiday shopping season is already upon us! Are you ready?
In case this idea incites a small panic attack for you, never fear. We’ve put together some great survival tips for the holiday season, for business owners of every shape and size. So grab yourself a gingerbread latte and get to work!
Tips for Small Business Holiday Survival:
1. Spruce things up and invite your guests over for a treat.
Whether you run an online business or you work out of a brick-and-mortar location, it’s time to decorate for the holidays! For an in-person business, dust off your shelves and get ready to deck the halls: even just a few holiday touches can add a dash of personality to your shop or office space. Put out a plate of holiday cookies for your customers to enjoy while they browse, or brew up a batch of spiced cider to keep their hands warm on a chilly shopping trip. This will make your customers feel like they’re visiting a friend rather than shopping with an impersonal stranger.
If your business is online, you can still take advantage of this tip! Give your logo a holiday once-over; use a program like PicMonkey to add an overlay of snowflakes or Santa hats to your logo image and upload it to your web site. Give the site a holiday-themed background color or simply put a holiday greeting in your usual message to your customers. Maybe you can’t brew cider for your customers, but you can send them holiday cards if you’re very ambitious, or include a mini card or thank-you gift of candy or another treat with every purchase within a certain time frame. This little incentive can be enough to make your customers buy now instead of waiting, which will help to boost your revenue going into the heart of the new year sales slump.
2. Mark your calendar!
From the customer’s perspective, holiday shopping can be overwhelming. Advertisers from businesses large and small inundate customers with marketing messages from October through the New Year. Unless your product is 100% unique, chances are someone else makes a similar product, and they’re marketing that product to your customers. Help your customers avoid analysis paralysis and make the decision to shop with YOU. To do this, set an important date or a range of dates for a special sale or offer. Big-box businesses take advantage of Black Friday, but the Saturday after that is Small Business Saturday, which is your day. If you’ve got an online shop, you can even extend your offer to include the following Monday (known as Cyber Monday). You don’t need to break the bank for this – offer your customers a special discount code that is slightly higher than your usual sale, give them a free gift with purchase or the chance to preview a new product first in January if they make a purchase in December. Don’t get left behind in the holiday shopping hustle and bustle; give your customers an appointment to shop with you.
3. Use social media to your advantage.
The holiday season isn’t necessarily the best time to learn social media from the ground up, but if you’ve already been using a particular form of social media for your business with some success, keep at it during the holidays. Use this time to take photos of the special products you’re creating for the season, and post them to sites like Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Share your favorite family holiday recipe, and tell a favorite holiday story. If you’re a local business, promote any local events in your area, whether you’ll be attending them or not: this will make you into a one-stop information shop for your customers who are looking for local holiday fun. If you run an online-only biz, give your customer a heads-up about national happenings, including the holiday specials they might enjoy on TV or any new holiday music albums you’ve found and enjoyed. Keep in regular contact with your customers this season, but don’t make every post into a promotion or you’ll sound too much like a walking advertisement. Give your social media a personal touch during this season of light and joy.
Need more advice? Check out these articles on holiday survival in the small business world: