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How to Compete as a Small Business During the Holiday Season

October 30, 2014 by Ed Becker

  • Prepare your staff and consider seasonal help
    Training your staff a little extra before the holiday season can teach them how to handle rushed, stressed out customers better. You want to have the absolute best customer service possible during the holidays in order to retain existing customers and attract new customers for the future. Consider hiring seasonal help for the typical holiday rush of shopping.
  • Leverage Existing Customers
    Go the extra mile to entice existing customers to shop with you for the holidays. Existing customers have a 60-70% chance of purchasing again from you, where you only have 5-20% chance of gaining a new customer. The cost of acquiring a new customer is 6-7 times more than retaining an existing one.
  • Showcase your local-ness
    Use your local reputation and history to draw in new and existing customers for the holiday shopping season. Customers are often looking to support a cause, which includes supporting local and small businesses. Pump up your “About Us” webpage with your history and any local charities or community groups that your business supports. Let the town know you’re a big community supporter. Hang photos of local charities or groups that you support in your store. Draw business to your door by:

    • Running a fundraiser for a local charity
    • Have a drive drop off at your business
    • Host an event for a local shelter
  • Watch profit margins
    Since it’s likely your profit margins aren’t comparable to that of Amazon, you probably don’t have the wiggle room to slash prices to gain an edge over your competitors. You can still offer incentives and promotions as long as you are watchful of your profit margins. You do not want to risk losing money in an attempt to win customers over competition.
  • Increase order values
    For online or in store purchases, you can increase order or sales values by offering incentives. You can offer free shipping deals with a minimum purchase amount online. You can also offer a gift card of a small amount for orders over a certain amount. In store you could offer a raffle- 1 ticket per $10 spent, or something similar.
  • Promote Holiday Spirit
    Have fun! Make your store or website fun. Dress it up, deck it out. Encourage your staff to dress the part, or pass out Santa hats to everyone. When customers are more relaxed and festive they tend to spend more.
  • Market for the Holidays
    Change up your marketing for the holidays. Show your Holiday Spirit. Advertise your support of local charities and drives by helping them advertise. Use some marketing ideas that you may not have tried: blogging, e-newsletters, e-cards, postcards to local residents, flyers or local newspaper ads. Be creative. Holiday or calendar magnets are great to pass out with sales.
  • New and Specialty items
    Choose your inventory wisely. It is good to bring in a few new and specialty items, but don’t go overboard and then find out that you picked a dud for the season.
  • Send Holiday cards
    Send out Seasonal cards to your existing customers, wishing them a safe and happy holiday season.
  • Take full advantage of social media
    Use social media to its fullest throughout the holiday season. Post your sales, your holiday hours of business, fundraisers, drives, and any other community events to engage your audience.

Enjoy the season, don’t get caught up in the craziness of it all. Plan wisely and in advance, then enjoy it! When it gets stressful, reflect on why you started a small business. Always keep in mind that the customer you serve today could be the reason the next ten buy from you.

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