The Holidays can be a wonderful time for small businesses like ours. But if you’re like me you’re always looking for new ideas. Well, we’ve got them — including tips on holiday sales promotions, employee and client gifts, greeting cards, banners and shipping.
A few weeks ago I helped with a Twitter chat as part of the FedEx Office Tweet chat series. Below we share some of the great tips from the Twitter community during that chat (#SMBHolidayPrep).
If you’re still planning for the Holidays, what is the first thing you should do?
“I always buy large clear containers to put all of my holiday Christmas decorations in.” @tatas782000
“Start today, no matter how small the effort. Don’t get analysis paralysis.” @robert_brady
“Figure out what all of your deadlines are and make a list so there are no surprises!” @aogable
“When you create a Holiday plan for your business, you will feel more in control, less stressed.” @laalicia
“Make a list and check it twice before shopping.” @kpswagger
What should your Holiday business plan include?
“Time and money management!” @nessa0322
“Emergency contingency plans!” @CreateWithJoy1
“Schedules down to the day! I need to be specific to get things done. I also need a detailed budget.” @momUNblogger
“A follow up plan to retain new customers from your holiday promotions.” @BrightlyBranded
“Current customer demographics, proper products, free shipping, rechecking site usability.” @PayProBusiness
“I always do free shipping (for my customers) on the holidays. It’s attractive and competitive.” @momUNblogger
What are some marketing activities you can still do for the Holidays?
“Consider direct mail for holiday promotion. Make sure to have an online follow up for additional engagement.” @BrightlyBranded
“Utilize Twitter!” @aogable
“Offer giveaways, get your name out there for the holidays!” @szarsang
“Newspaper Ads, Social Media, Email existing customers, Signage.” @UNpluggofer47
” (like @AdWords) is always available for online mktg. I have $100 vouchers if anyone wants one.” @robert_brady
” should see to it that their websites look and work great on mobile devices.” @PeterHimler
What about retail shops? What should they be doing?
“They should be offering credit (gift cards) back with a certain amount of purchases.” @xxkimhcxx
“Plan special shopping events like sip and shops RT @fedexoffice: Q4: What about retail shops? What should they be doing?” @laalicia
“Putting out some great ads for Black Friday and sending flyers and coupons in the mail.” @kpswagger
“They should major advertising, putting ads on benches, on fliers, in mails outs, having in store giveaways.” @tatas782000
“Retail shops should have inviting + interesting window fronts to catch attention from passerbyers.” @PayProBusiness
“Coupons, sales, entice shoppers into their store with extras – shipping or wrapping svs.” @misaacmom
“Make customers have an enjoyable shopping experience, have the store like a Christmas party.” @islandkimmi
What about Holiday flyers?
“I love to do flyers. However, many communities have code restrictions on passing them out.” ~ @UNpluggofer47
“They’re good for reaching customers who are not necessarily tech savvy.” @aogable
“Holiday flyers are great because it lets me know what offers are out there via the mail.” @kpswagger
“I love Holiday flyers. I like to post Xmas cards to so everyone can see.” @hollielyn69
“I like flyers if you can present them back to business for special discount, or chance at a prize.” @islandkimmi
“Either paper or virtual holiday flyer, have a design/promotion that’ll trigger an emotion!” @PayProBusiness
What about client gift giving?
“Branded and something USEFUL as a client gift that can be kept and remembered fondly.” @PayProBusiness
“Free gifts are the best way to build customer loyalty and trust – be sure it’s something that truly overdelivers.” @tiroberts
“I think its a great idea to send clients a basket of cookies or candies, let them know their business counts!” @hollielyn69
“When giving gifts, you should make sure that it is something the whole office can use.” @kpswagger
“Client gifts show your appreciation & loyalty. Also a great tool if used as a customer re-activation strategy.” @BrightlyBranded
“Sometimes loyal customers get peeved at the incentives new customers get. Easier to retain than get new ones!” @PayProBusiness
“I like to do client product swap Where appropriate. Buy products from 1 client and give to other.” @DIYMarketers
Let’s talk about shipping packages for the Holidays
“Packages need to be packed securely inside, no jostling, leaking, or spillage.” @UNpluggofer47
“Always use @FedExOffice, think about the small details of your brand for package. Tissue color, TY card, coupon.” @BrightlyBranded
“We make sure that everything is wrapped and packaged securely – no accidents en route!” @CreateWithJoy1
“Make sure the packing is attractive. Enclose a pretty festive note. Use a great shipping company.” @stblissout
Speaking of websites, what else should you do to get it ready for the Holidays?
“People appreciate holiday resources, tips and schedules on your site!” @CreateWithJoy1
“I’m going to put a Santa Hat on my pictures 🙂 festive and fun. Decorate your logo.” @DIYMarketers
“Create a festive webpage, add graphics to highlight promotions and specials, make sure all links work.” @UNpluggofer47
“Free your site of additional clicks and roadblocks that could impact a sale.” @BrightlyBranded
“Set up your ebay holiday items business should be boomin.” @nicholemckinnon
What other things can you do to prepare for the Holidays?
“Have a HUGE giveaway!” @tatas782000
“Send out friendly, non spam emails.” @kpswagger
“Plan some time away to enjoy the holidays with friends and family! We all need a break!” @laalicia
“Take time to be grateful!” @stblissout
“Make sure to take notes throughout the season for what worked and what didn’t for your preparation next year.” @BrightlyBranded
“Train employees on different holiday traditions so they can better assist each customer.” @UNpluggofer47
“If you never had holiday music playing on your website, add that to keep customer entice when browsing.” @SheriffEld
“Have enough staff, extend hours for more convenience, 🙂 have an ugly xmas sweater party.” @islandkimmi
“Be realistic. Don’t be so ambitious about the Holidays that you burn yourself or your team out.” @TheBlanketLady
If you’d like to see the entire chat, view the transcript provided by FedEx Office  (PDF). Note: the above tweets have been edited to remove redundant information such as question numbers and hashtags.
Disclosure: FedEx Office compensated me to participate as a small business expert during the FedEx Office Tweet Chat program and write this post. The ideas in this blog post are mine and not ideas or advice from FedEx Office.
Holiday Shipping  Photo via Shutterstock