Strong marketing and sales plans are critical for small businesses during the holiday season: According to studies by e-commerce strategists ChannelAdvisors, three-out-of-four retailers do at least 20% of their annual sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and 41% of businesses highlight Black Friday and Cyber Monday as their most profitable days.
These tips to maximize visibility, increase sales and grow your business using websites, email and text messaging, social media, and local events can be low-cost and flexible ways to drive awareness and sales for a profitable holiday season.
1. Optimize Your Website to Reach Customers Everywhere
Want a greater share of the $117 billion that the National Retail Federation predicts will be spent online this holiday season? If so, it’s imperative that your small business’s website is attractive, informative and easy to use.
Two-thirds of shoppers view items online before visiting brick-and-mortar shops to purchase them; conversely, half will check out potential gifts in stores before purchasing online. Take advantage of this by updating your website with holiday specials and promotions. Keep information current to engage buyers and remain competitive, and make sure that it’s easy for customers to find products, services and contacts. If your business has online-sales capabilities, ensure that your e-commerce platform is optimized for a rush of transactions. Or consider other online avenues for small businesses, such as partnering as a merchant vendor on Amazon, to reap the benefits of existing online marketplaces with wide audiences.
2. Streamline and Strengthen Email and Text Marketing
Consistent messaging to your customer base can positively impact brand awareness – and that can translate into increased sales. Where to start? First, if you don’t already have one, assemble an email and/or text distribution list. Then, send relevant sales information and promote your brand with messaging and images that are attractive and appropriate for each platform that you use.
3. Be Active and Engaging with Social Media
Publish valuable and creative content related to sales promotions, new products or services and any special events you’re hosting this holiday season.
4. Ensure that Your Business is Mobile-Ready
The 2016 Deloitte Holiday Survey indicates that smartphone owners will spend 34% more on gifts this holiday season than non-smartphone owners. While most customers use mobile phones to find pertinent information like store locations and hours, they’ll also spend time browsing for gifts and comparing pricing and item availability on their smartphones, too. It’s essential that small business owners like you capture customers by ensuring that your business’s website translates easily to smartphone technology.
5. Capture Information with Analytics
Tools like Google Analytics® can help small business owners learn a lot about how customers engage, so don’t forget to monitor your marketing efforts for valuable information about what attracts your customers and drives increased interest and sales.
6. Create a Loyal Base through “Shop Local” Campaigns
While shopping online is convenient, for many customers, the holiday season wouldn’t be the same without some store visits, too. If you have a brick-and-mortar presence, this is a great time to create interest and loyalty among your neighboring businesses and people throughout your community. Make sure your business is plugged into the “shop local” scene by collaborating with fellow merchants on holiday events geared toward local shoppers. It’s a fun way to increase sales and seasonal cheer, and to create goodwill among businesses and encourage area residents to visit local shops instead of hitting “big box” and chain department stores.
With thorough planning, the holiday season can be less stressful and more profitable for small business owners. Take steps to prepare your business for the shopping season and you’ll manage increased activity with ease while creating visibility and sales for your business. Visit Excelsior Growth Fund’s Small Business Holiday Planner for more great tips, too, like how to plan for holiday inventory.
About Excelsior Growth Fund
Excelsior Growth Fund (EGF) helps businesses in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania grow by providing streamlined access to business loans and advisory services. EGF’s signature product, the EGF SmartLoan™, provides up to $100,000 in fast, transparent, and affordable financing through a secure online platform. Larger loans up to $500,000 are also available. EGF is a nonprofit organization and is certified by U.S. Department of Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Learn more atwww.excelsiorgrowthfund.org.