This post is for online stores, local shops, and all the small businesses out there…
First, Kabbage has an excellent page: 30 Creative Ideas to Promote Your Business for the Holiday Season. Make sure you check it out. That said, I’ve got more to add.
“Kabbage puts the power of business growth back in your hands by giving you instant access to funds. Enjoy ongoing access to your line, and take the funds you need day or night. Pay only for what you take and draw against your line as often as once a day.”
Kabbage has a variety of options to get cash for your business. I have not worked with them personally, but after some investigation, the results look good. I also called their sales office and asked questions: lots of good answers with ZERO PRESSURE sales. They are quite passionate about helping small business owners. You can find them at kabbage.com. Frankly, when I’m in a position to take out a loan, I intend to work with them. I like what I see.
The problem for most small business owners: we’re doing almost EVERYTHING. We can’t afford to outsource or hire people, especially if we’re just starting out or in our “dry season”. Or you’re like me and you’ve hired a virtual assistant, have a few subcontractors, and that’s about it. But YOU are doing the PR, project management, ordering inventory, working on a website (or with a web designer), doing advertising, and more.
Being a small business owner is not an easy job. We don’t sleep a lot. We’re ALWAYS on call. And as Hopper said, in It’s a Bugs Life, “First rule of leadership: everything is your fault” (which, frankly, I prefer to working for someone else and dealing with their mistakes). It takes GUTS to run a business (or you just have to be my kind of crazy).
So to improve holiday sales, a few pointers:
1. Make a Calendar of Holidays
Mark when you should start preparations. Use something like Google Docs or EverNote to make a list of everything you need. Prep 3 months in advance, minimum. Especially if you are going to have to wait for:
- print jobs
- web designer’s schedules
and other variables.
2. Make a List of Holidays
Most businesses do the Federal and State Holidays. But what about your local demographic? Big Muslim or Hindu neighborhood? Run sales on THEIR holidays. Throw in some for the Christians too, who are still the dominant religion in the U.S. Just don’t forget that your demographic, like mine, may be VAST. My customers, that I know of, are:
So one thing I’ve started doing on social networks is just at least sending a shout out for their holiday. Just so they know that I recognize and respect them, and remember them. Not sure when all those holidays happen? If you use Google Calendar, there are calendars for everything on the planet that you can plug into your calendar.
3. Advertise the Sale in Advance
Don’t wait until the last day. Or even the week before. Start a month out, just a mention that it’s coming, is good. Then: two weeks out, to remind people.
Promote it on social media, if you use it. Put up signs in your store. If you have a newsletter for your business, send out a notice 1 month before, then 2 weeks before, then the week before. Then: on the day of the sale. Tell them to mark their calendar’s! Better yet, if your newsletter service has a way for customers to embed a Google Calendar reminder: go for it!
Just don’t get TOO spammy with all the newsletters. That’s why you want to space them out. When it comes to newsletters, more is NOT better. You’ll just piss off your audience and they’ll unsubscribe due to the sheer volume of email from you (that is likely all saying the same thing).
And remember: tell your customer’s what’s in it for them.
4. How to Compete with the Big Dogs
Tell your customers WHY you are better than the big box stores. For example,
- Personalized service
- Friendly, relaxed atmosphere
- Stress-free shopping
- You get to know your customers by name
And so on. A lot of people like to shop local for these reasons, and more. So remind your customers why you ARE better than the big dogs in the marketplace. Advertising by the Big Dog’s makes it easy for your less loyal, less regular customers to remember you.
To sum up:
1. Make a Calendar of Holidays (Plan in Advance)
2. Make a List of Holidays (More: Plan in Advance)
3. Advertise the Sale in Advance (and know when and how)
4. How to Compete with the Big Dogs (tell everyone why YOU are better)
Got more questions? Get in touch! Also, check out my book for website owners: Website Wonders Made Easy: Websites Unwoven – A Guide to Creating a PROFESSIONAL Website, in Plain English. (Also available on Kindle and Nook.)
The book is NOT about how to make a website. It covers ALL the mistakes I’ve watched people make in the past 15 years. It covers law, website promotion, terminology, how to find and work with a web designer, newsletter best practices, site promotion, and more.
And as always, if you have questions, get in touch! You can also subscribe to the book email list (see right sidebar) for future Q&A sessions, whether you’ve bought the book or not. And I have communities for website owners where you can get your questions answered over on Reddit and Goodreads.
Happy ALL the holidays to you! Wishing you all a PROSPEROUS 2015!