Competition for the Christmas dollar will be very fierce this year as online shops and retail outlets go head to head.
With Christmas approaching you may think you’re ahead of the game. You know the ‘why’, you’ve planned out the ‘when’, and you’ve got a fair idea of the ‘where’. Now it’s time for the ‘what’ and the ‘how’.
Thankfully Christmas is an iconic, symbolic time of the year when people almost have an obligation to buy. Therefore local businesses have a great opportunity to customise and personalise certain elements of the operation that can grab attention where other similar small businesses are faltering.
Let’s assume that you’ve built a foundation for success by being organised enough, if necessary, to arrange extra elves – ahem, team members – and their hours. You know delivery and order dates, and your stock is in place or will be in place.
Here are several ideas to consider to make the most of the festive period.
Your store/premises should be welcoming for Christmas. Present mince pies on a lovely dish on the front table, and display banners outside telling people about them. Pop some business cards near the plate.
Do some research into decorations and make a front window display that grabs people as they walk past. If you’re buying decorations try and purchase them locally from a craft store – they might send some custom your way in return. Once people are inside, make sure your Festive offers are obvious, and that your stock is tidy and organised. Word of mouth will soon spread and before you know it the store will hopefully be fuller than one of the mince pies.
Much of this Christmas cheer can also be incorporated into your website, even if it’s just a case of adding festive graphics. Posting a brief video message may also be a memorable way of grabbing the attention of potential customers.
Local community events
Even if you’re not selling a product it’s worth having a presence in your community; get your name down early for events at town halls, markets and schools, where you can meet potential customers and also fellow small business owners. Remember to take lots of business cards with you, which of course, have your website and social media details on it.
A great way to drive new sales over the festive period is, of course, vouchers and discounts. Get clever with it, perhaps you could discount a different item for the 12 days of Christmas, or send one email a day to your customers mimicking an advent calendar.
If you need a quick bump in sales then perhaps consider using search engine marketing. It’s a quick way to drive people already looking for products and services like yours directly to your website rather than your competitors, plus it’s all measurable so you can work out how valuable the campaign has been.
Give your emails a little Christmas magic and promote yourself at the same time, perhaps using a template; examples include messages which resemble cards being opened, greetings written on baubles, photographs of staff in Christmas gear, and banners.
There are several ways of contacting customers, and bizarrely the traditional Christmas card is still probably the one that will actually grab people’s attention. You could personalise it – perhaps with a picture of your business on the front or even hand make them! A voucher to be used before Christmas or (early) in the New Year could also be a good inclusion.
Send out a message on social media to your followers throughout the holidays, thanking them for their custom. Don’t forget Christmas Eve/Day as well – schedule tweets or messages beforehand if you’re too busy to do it using a social management tool.
A final point
Christmas is about giving and sharing. Hopefully you are a warm and likeable business, so you should be engaging with customers because you want to, not because you feel you have to. False sincerity will soon be discovered – you don’t want to be seen as a Scrooge!
I love Christmas time, I’m still a big kid at heart!
Have a great day!