It's early December. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday have passed. Do you feel like your small business needs continued to push to market for the holiday season? Maybe you have more inventory than you're comfortable with, or your bottom line is not measuring up? There's still time before Hanukah (though not much), Christmas, and Kwanzaa is here! There are still last-minute marketing strategies to get more viewers on your website, people walking through your door, and attention for your businesses, without sacrificing this entire month of sleep. One article we found online lists "create a marketing strategy" as a tip, but if you're just now sitting down with a pad of paper and outlining your marketing strategy, you're a bit behind. Time for strategizing is short, time for action is now.
1. Lean on your most valuable customers to build buzz
Identify those customers who are regulars, who believe in your product or frequent your store. Reward them. Give discounts and incentives for word-of-mouth advertising. For example, develop a "bring a friend before a certain date for a 25% discount" policy, offer buy-one-get-one-free deals, or issue a coupon for $5 off after the holiday season if they refer new customers. There are many ways to reward your loyal customers for helping to build your business. At this point, to make an impact for the holiday season, this is much easier if you have a bricks-and-mortar shop, because you have the ability to talk to your patrons, and you can more easily track if new customers come in because they've been encouraged by a friend. Web and mobile referral software services, like the one offered by companies like InviteReferrals, create digital referral campaigns, by encouraging a customer to invite friends through a referral program, whether through the installation of an app, or making purchases on the web. Time is running short to set up an online program, but check out free trial periods on their website, or compare other companies that offer online referral services.
2. Email, but don't spam
You could send daily emails to your distribution list about why they should shop with you, but we don't recommend it. Daily deals are coming to buyers at an astonishing rate as we approach the holidays. Think of that one time you, not a pet owner yourself, bought a designer dog sweater for your sister's dog at an online boutique, and now you're getting daily deals to buy upscale food and pet toys for pet you don't have. Of course you can--and should--unsubscribe, but many don't and simply delete every time a marketing email comes through, perhaps with a smidge of irritation. If you want to email, settle on three messages you'd like to communicate to your customers now through December 24 (or beyond for Kwanzaa). Maybe it's a holiday gift recommendation list--for a particular person, or for a specific amount (gifts under $50 or $25). Maybe it's to promote a special event you've planned (an appearance by your town's celebrated dancing Elves! Or a simpler but effective free wine night). Share a testimonial, special deal, or photo of your festively decorated shop. Just don't spam.
3. Stop scrambling! Focus on the here and now
Maybe this is not a true "marketing" ploy, but it's probably the most important thing you can do now. Turn your--and your staff's attention to providing the absolute best service to each customer, whether they walk through your door or visit online. At a frantic and busy time, customers who walk away with exactly what they hoped for, or better, tend to repeat business. Get the order right. Make the customer feel special. Have available what you promised you'd have in an earlier sale flier or email. Rather than investing time into more, more, more, take special care of the customers you have now. They'll appreciate it and hopefully return with friends. Only you can decide the cut-off point for generating new ideas to boost sales for your small business. With social media, you can put out a new message every day, but remember, we can get wrapped up in over-spending and over-thinking every holiday detail. In the same way, you can get bogged down in the feeling that you haven't done enough marketing. Treat your customers like gold, and enjoy the holidays.
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