How to Make Your Store a Holiday Hit

caron beesley small business administrationWith the holiday shopping season upon us, now is the time for you to connect with your customers in new and effective ways. Caron Beesley, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Blogger, offers several tips that you can easily incorporate into your holiday marketing plan.

If you haven’t already, start by decorating your website and social media pages with festive graphics and designs. Social media is a great tool to promote your products and services, and it’s important to listen and interact with your fans on social media and generate community around your brand. For expert tips on how to utilize Facebook, click here.

Organize your goods so that it makes it easy for buyers to find holiday lines with options such as “Gifts for Him” and “Gifts under $50”. Use email, blogs and web banners to make gift suggestions, such as “10 Gifts for Dad,” and to highlight popular lines. Offer ideas for last minute impulse purchases and use your site to drive people in-store.

Another popular and effective way to reach your customers and prospects is with email marketing to an opt-in list, such as a monthly eNewsletter. These consumers have asked to hear from you and they are interested in what you have to offer. To keep your email out of spam, avoid over use of punctuation (!!!), and words like “free” and “special offer,” in the subject line. Use your subject line to tease, and give something away but not too much. For more tips on email marketing, click here.

For businesses that sell non-seasonal products, get creative and position your goods as suitable holiday gifts. You could offer a portion of the price of your product to charities and make people feel they contribute to this charity themselves. Try a special offer like “purchase one product and get the other at half price” or “purchase one product and get another free to offer as a gift.” These types of special offers can very easily increase your sales volume.

Price is often considered a key driver of holiday sales, so look at your market and tailor your pricing strategy to it. Make a list of pricing categories in your business, think about who buys your merchandise, friends or family members, and consider setting the budget to appeal to those people. Consider bundling lower priced items into gift sets. Gift certificates are also a great pricing strategy to catch last minute shoppers. Don’t just go for money certificates, though. You could offer gift certificates for specific purchases such as a family portrait. Look at which high margin lines have holiday appeal and bring those to the forefront.

Use shipping deadlines as a motivator and clearly state shipping deadlines on all emails and on your website. Use this as an incentive for customers to take action. As December 25 and other holiday deadlines approach, offer upgrades on shipping services. For example, you could upgrade five-day shipping orders placed on December 17 to two or three day shipping at no extra cost.

If you have a brick and mortar store, make customers feel welcome by greeting them with a smile. Offer a festive treat like a cookie, eggnog or warm apple cider, or hand out product samples. Consider offering free gift wrapping. You can purchase inexpensive gift wrap and ask a student or volunteer to wrap the gifts. You also can hand out wish list cards and ask customers to list their favorite items from your store and follow-up with them in a week by email to remind them that their items are still in stock.

Remember, many of Beesley’s suggestions apply across industries and can incorporated today. Be sure to check out SBA’s resources to help you market your business around the holidays and all year long.

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer and marketing communications consultant. Beesley works with the team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter @caronbeesley