With Halloween almost here, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday aren’t far behind. For small retailers, that means it’s time to gear up for your holiday marketing moves.
Like last year’s, this is a short holiday shopping season (just 26 days between Black Friday and Christmas, compared to the more typical 31), so you’ll want to make the most of it. Here are some steps you can take to make your shop stand out from the crowd.
Planning ahead will give you an edge, enable you to budget better and ensure you don’t miss important dates. This year:
- Thanksgiving falls on November 27
- Black Friday on November 28
- Small Business Saturday on November 29
- Cyber Monday on December 1.
Create a marketing calendar working back from these and other key dates, breaking down the actions you’ll need to take to meet deadlines. For instance, if you want to send a direct mail piece to arrive before Thanksgiving, when do you need to design and submit the ad?
Use Holiday Cards to Put Your Business Top-of-Mind
Send early holiday cards (such as a Thanksgiving card) to give thanks for your loyal customers’ support all year long. Better yet, invite them to a special event or sale, and sweeten the pot with a discount or free gift offer.
Help Shoppers Out
Prepare to provide great customer service with little touches like free gift wrap or a gift-wrapping station, a personal shopper to help customers select gifts, or displays with pre-wrapped gifts for certain recipients such as “teacher gifts,” “gifts for Mom” or “baby gifts.”
Hold Events at Your Store
Choose an event that’s festive for the season, but also relates to your store, such as an author signing or reading at a bookstore, a musical performance of holiday songs at a CD store or a cookie-decorating demonstration at a gourmet food store. Events attract crowds and spur spending.
Sell Gift Cards or Use Them as Promotional Items
In 2013, gift cards were the number-one gift shoppers planned to buy, according to a Nielsen survey. Vantiv and eCard Systems are two companies that offer gift cards for small retailers; you can also see if your bank offers gift card options. Gift cards aren’t only for gifts; consider doing a “give one, get one” promotion where customers buy a $100 gift card or $100 worth of merchandise and get a $25 gift card for themselves.
Appeal to Shoppers’ Selfish Sides
With many Americans still watching their wallets, lots of shoppers wait for holiday sales to treat themselves to things they want or need. Window signage or ads promoting two-for-one; buy one, get one half off; or outright encouraging customers to treat themselves are very effective during the holidays.
Show Some Sense (The Five Senses, That Is)
Engage customers’ senses with colorful decorations, festive holiday music, seasonal scents like pine or cinnamon, and refreshments to keep shoppers from dropping. Music or scents that waft outside your store can attract foot traffic.
Turn your business neighbors into marketing partners by creating promotions, contests and special events together. For example, hold a “12 Days of Christmas” giveaway where 12 retailers in your shopping center each give away a prize a day for 12 days. (Be sure to check into what your local business association is planning, too.)
Take Part in Small Business Saturday
Last year, 71 percent of U.S. consumers said they were aware of Small Business Saturday, and nearly half (46 percent) actively supported it by shopping at a local small business. The result: $5.7 billion in sales. Visit the website to get marketing tools, collateral and ideas for making the most of Small Business Saturday.
Holiday Shop Photo via Shutterstock
Check out our Business Gift Giving Guide for more tips about holiday trends.More in: Holidays