It’s the most wonderful time of the year, especially for small business owners!
Whether you own a retail store or provide handyman services, the holidays represent a time where you can make a LOT more money.
Just how much money, you ask? Well, it varies based on industry, but SCORE estimates that in 2017, holiday spending was up by 33% from 2016, with the majority of spending happening online. And a lot of that spending is happening at small businesses, with an estimated 43% of Americans shopping or dining at independently-owned places on Small Business Saturday.
All this means that there’s a lot of customer money out there that’s up for grabs - and if you want to get your hands on it, check out these five ways to get holiday-ready ASAP!
5 Ways to Get Holiday-Ready ASAP
Fire up your social media.
One of the very first things you should do is fire up your social media accounts and start sharing info about all of your holiday sales. I’m talking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever social media you have; if your business isn’t sharing updates on sales, promotions, and special events, you’re missing out on customers.
Play around with Facebook events or maybe even use paid advertising to boost a special sale in your specific region. Make sure to create 1-2 posts about your special sales each day, tweaking each one to target a different message or customer type. It can be a little intensive, but social media is still one of the best ways to get word out about your small business as quickly as possible.
If you work directly with customers at their homes (dog walker, handyman, cleaner, etc), consider going a step beyond Facebook and advertising your services on a site like NextDoor.com.
This free social media site is community-based, meaning folks who live in a specific neighborhood can all go online and chat with one another. One of the biggest benefits to NextDoor is that it sends out an email blast to people in the neighborhood every day. That means if you post something about your services or a holiday sale, it’s going to be emailed out to hundreds (potentially thousands) of people.
Not too bad for one post, right?
Double-check your website’s health.
Picture this: You’re surfing online when suddenly you see an ad featuring a sale with some pretty steep discounts. You’re intrigued, so you click through on the ad and land on the website…
And wait. And wait some more.
It’s pretty frustrating, right? I’m also willing to bet you probably don’t stick around too long when a website takes forever to load. SCORE has the stats to back up this behavior, as studies have shown that conversions fall by 20% for every second it takes to load your website.
That’s right - 20% per second.
If you haven’t already, double-check your site’s performance to make sure you’re not accidentally losing customers. Test My Site is a free Google program that tests your site’s speed and provides you with recommendations to improve it if the site is loading slowly.
Throw an event.
If you have the time and it makes sense for your business, don’t hesitate to throw a special event in your store or online. The key to throwing a successful holiday event is making sure you’re giving your customers something worthwhile; for example, if you’re only offering a small discount, your customers probably won’t really respond to your event invites.
Go above and beyond for this special event. Think doorbusters, steep discounts, 2 for 1 deals, and contests to win some of your most popular (or expensive) items. Keep track of what deals do best and which items your customers buy more of. That way, you can use this info for sales throughout the year, or you can plan out your next holiday event with a lot more know-how.
Offer free shipping.
Free. Shipping. Is. EVERYTHING.
Seriously, there’s a ton of research ton of research that shows free shipping is a powerful purchasing incentive for customers. If you’re not quite convinced, I’m willing to bet that you’ve abandoned more than your fair share of online shopping carts because the shipping was a little too pricey.
Whether you run an online store or offer to ship from your brick-and-mortar location, consider promoting free shipping to your customers. It’s a tried-and-true method for increasing conversions, plus it could be so successful that you might want to permanently implement it.
Give the customers what they want.
This technique is best saved for the days leading up to the end of your holiday season when you’re getting down to the last few sales.
Don’t Forget To…
Don’t try to change who you are as a business just to try to increase sales. Customers respond better to an authentic experience. If you’re trying to replicate another business’s holiday strategies, it’s likely they’ll notice.
Keep track of what you’ve learned.
Consider this holiday season to be a learning experience, where you’ll have the opportunity to try out new sales tactics, talk to customers about what they want, and even test-drive some promotions. You’re definitely going to find out a lot - but all that learning experience will go to waste if you’re not keeping track of what you’ve learned!
Make note of what went well, what didn’t do so hot, and how customers responded to your holiday sales. Keep track of this info so that when you start prepping for next year’s holidays, you’ll already have a strong indication of what you can do to get more sales.
Remember the reason for the season!
The holidays can be incredibly busy times for small business owners, so it’s tempting to put in as much time as humanly possible. Plus, there’s always that nagging in the back of your head that tells you the more hours you work, the more money you’ll have to spend on presents for friends and family. But don’t forget that the holidays are about spending time with the people who love you - and if you’re constantly working, they won’t get to see you.
How do you prepare your small business for the holiday season? We want to hear about it!
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