Happy December! ‘Tis the season to practice generosity, remind your friends, family, customers, and teammates how important they are to you, give for the sake of giving, and, yes, drive up your business sales. Time to put the elves to work!

 

Many small business owners get caught up in the assumption that the holiday season is busy and lucrative by default. While this notion is true, it is also a time when there is a lot of competition you’re up against.

 

During this time of year, there are still a lot of people who have yet to do their holiday shopping. Where I live, there is an open-air marketplace that has an annual “Festival of the Last Minute”. Open through December 24th, it is always super crowded this time of year.

 

In a similar vein, today we share some strategies to make you stand out and snag those very late, last minute shoppers.  

 

1. Reach out to customers, right now: Given all the chaos and noise that surrounds the holiday season, you should make a point to remind your customers that you’re always there and ready to help:

    • If you have a subscriber list, increase the frequency by which you send out emails. Most retailers increase their email rate to subscribers by 50% during November and December. Make your subject line catchy and noteworthy so that it gets opened.
    • Whatever you usually do on social media, do more of it. A lot more. Follow people, reply to all tweets and messages, and advertise.
    • Send holiday cards to your customers in the mail. People always appreciate the personal touch of handwritten snail mail.

 

2. Never underestimate the power of e-commerce: Online shopping is an incredibly potent source of profit, especially during the holidays. If your site isn’t running quite right, call your tech today. According to a report from 2015, 57% of users will click away from a website if it doesn’t load in under three seconds, so make sure your business’s website provides a seamless shopping experience for customers.

Additionally, make sure that your site is advertising your holiday sales in a bold and festive fashion.

 

3. Not everything is digital: Remember the days before the Internet? Yeah, I hardly do either. In all seriousness, social media marketing and the digital space are not the only keys to your small business’s success. You should absolutely give just as much of your energy to your store’s actual in-house experience. In terms of holiday marketing, this might mean:

    • Getting festive. Put up some more holiday decorations, play Christmas music, and show your holiday cheer.
    • Selling yourself. Remember that face-to-face time with customers can be one of your most valuable marketing tools. Customer service is hugely important to any shopper, so get personal.
    • Hosting a fun holiday event in your store for the community. If you advertise free cookies, hot chocolate, and Santa, people will come for sure.
    • Offering free samples make a huge difference.

 

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4. Discounts, price reductions, and sales – oh my!: Almost everybody is searching for the best bargain this time of year, so when in doubt, come up with some exciting deals and rewards for shoppers. And most importantly, let the whole world know about it! Here are some ideas:

    • Make your own “Black Friday”
    • Include a free gift with each purchase
    • Limited time only sales – emphasize the sense of urgency
    • Offer small gift cards or coupons to customers who post photos or otherwise advertise their shopping experience on social media
    • Sell gift cards (which is the gift that is given the most)

 

So make your list, check it twice ... and keep selling!

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

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