During the holiday season, consumers know that promotions and sales are coming. Almost every business has a promotional calendar where they plan to market aggressively. You see them in the paper, in your mailbox, on the TV and radio, almost everywhere you look businesses are advertising for the holidays. So, as a small business owner how can you compete and stay ahead of them all? Think about your customers, when they go out shopping, most of them are looking for things that they didn’t see last year. They are looking for unique and creative gift ideas, not to mention, the best deals and offers they can’t pass up. If they are looking for creativity, why not give that to them through your promotions? Think about it, if you keep getting the same promotions, offers, and discounts every year, would that look more attractive than an offer you have never seen or been given before? Coming up with creative and unique promotions will attract more customers, and people will appreciate you and your business even more. When you are planning your holiday promotional calendar this year, we encourage you to try to include a few of our favorite creative ideas.
A Special Day That Is Uniquely Special to Your Business
Create a special day for your business during the holidays other than Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. Choose one day that is only special to your business and runs a promotion on that day as well. Try to think about a day in your business that is special during the holidays. It could be your business anniversary, the day you graduated college, yours, your son’s or daughter’s, or one of your staff member’s birthdays. Whatever it may be, creating unique special days for your business not only sets you apart from the rest but shows your personality as a business owner where people can relate with. It is something different that not many other businesses do and it gets people’s attention. Your promotion could say something like, “Our owner’s birthday is December 5th, and he wants to celebrate with you. Join us to celebrate and receive and extra 20% off your purchase.” These types of promotions will be sure to attract attention.
“12 days of…” Sale, Event or Contest
Ellen DeGeneres is probably the best gift giver for the holiday season, with her incredible giveaways but it’s not easy to be Ellen, and no one is telling you to be. However, as a small business owner, you can learn from her generosity and play on her giving nature. The point is people like free stuff whether it is as big as an iPad or as small as a box of chocolates; customers will appreciate your open-handedness and will remember you for it. So try giving away something for free every day for 12 days. It doesn’t have to be big. And if you are unable to giveaway things, then offer different discounts on different items each day, or just do a raffle to give away just one gift basket on the 12th day, these approaches will work too.
Your Windows Can Shout
With the rise and availability of plate glass in the late 1800s came the famous notion of “window-shopping.” Although many consumers occupy their eyes on the glass plate of their phones these days rather than any store window, there is no doubt that beautiful, creative and eye-catching window displays will gather crowds and invite people in for a visit and potentially a sale. Whether you’re a retailer, restaurant owner, beauty salon or have a professional practice, deck out your store front and windows with holiday themed decorations. Don’t ever think that you’re too small to a business to play the same game that the large businesses play. Decorate your heart out and gain the returns.
Don’t Forget Your Website
When you decorate your store’s windows and displays don’t forget about your virtual window—your business website. Try to incorporate the same décor on your website as you do in your store. This way if someone visits your website then visits your store they will see a relation between the two triggering them inside. And it also goes the other way. Make sure to update your holiday extended hours and special offers too.
Free Gift Wrapping that Benefits Your Business
People love free gift wrapping. It saves them time and money and not to mention many hand-cramps. Many businesses offer this during the holiday season, and customers love them for it. A unique way of doing this is not only having your own creative gift wrapping ideas but also making it a marketing tool by adding your business’ name on it. This could be your business card or a sticker or ribbon with your business’ name and logo on it. With this creative approach, you are sure to keep the customer happy and potentially gain even more.
Entertainment That Gains Attention
People love being entertained so use this to get people through your doors. If you have the budget, hire musicians to play holiday music inside or outside your store or restaurant. Music is a mood changer, so choose the appropriate music for your business that will attract the right people. If you plan to take this approach, don’t forget to get the word out. Create signs and posters telling people that you will be having live music on a particular day or days, especially if you are a restaurant owner.
If you have a TV in your store or can get one, run favorite holiday TV shows or movies during the holiday season. This will be sure to attract customers; they could walk in watch a few minutes and start browsing your store or come in and grab a bite to eat at your restaurant. It is also a great way to keep kids busy while their parent’s shop.
Food is Man’s Best Friend
People love food; it is the number one pleasure in life. Play off of this and have one of your staff members give out cookies or beverages to helps shoppers keep energized. Shoppers are out all day burning calories, even if they didn’t expect to work out today, they are sure getting a work out while shopping. They are tired and hungry, so show them that you care and keep them on their feet. Some businesses even hire masseuses to give shopper’s free foot messages or shoulder rubs in their stores for anyone who purchases something.
If you’re a restaurant owner, create a special holiday lunch and dinner menu. Create signs outside your door and windows to promote your new menu so that people passing by can see that you are preparing something special for the holidays.
Word-Of-Mouth Is Still #1
We all know that word-of-mouth marketing is the best and works the best. The more people know about your business, the more people will talk about your business. This approach is without a doubt the best approach, so why not make it work even harder? One great way of thinking about this more creatively is partnering with other business owners around your neighborhood or district to get the word out about your business. Creating a community with your fellow business owners is a great way to network and gain new customers.
Here are just some ideas you can approach them with:
Have a weekend “side-walk” party, where all of you come together and offer the same type of promotion, have musicians or a DJ play on the sidewalk, or hand out free refreshments. Get in touch with your district and find out the rules and regulations of having such an event and start planning.
Cross-promote with other businesses. Hand out flyers/postcards/coupons to nearby businesses, so they promote for you and you do the same. You could either have them leave your promotions on their counter tops or place one inside every shopper’s shopping bag.
Hire Santa Clause to come to your neighborhood. You’ve seen them in the malls, so why not have one of your own. If your store is not in a mall, this could be a great way to gain attention to your block. You can set up a booth and have photos taken with Santa and ask for donations to a charity.
Give and You Shall Recieve
During the holidays it’s all about sharing and giving. Consumers are in the holiday spirit and are more likely to help people in need. Studies have also shown that millennials are getting more and more involved with charities and are more likely to purchase from a business supporting a good cause. If you are involved with a charity or have a favorite charity make that known and create a promotion around it that will benefit your business and the charity.
Some ideas could include:
Have some or all proceeds going to that charity with a sale of an item.
Have customers sign up to volunteer at your charity and if they put in a certain amount of hours they will receive a discount off of their next purchase or if they sign up they will receive a free gift.
Put a box somewhere inside your business for people to donate clothes or toys for charities such as Toys for Tots.
Join other businesses to host a gift-giving tree. Put a tree in the business district or the shopping area and attach Christmas wishes on the tree, then have your customers choose a wish and purchase the desired gift.
A Booth to Boost Sales
During the holidays there are many local gifts shows that you could participate in where you rent a booth and come together with the community to promote your business. If you’re a retailer, choose a few of your items and promote them at these shows. If you’re a restaurant set up your booth with a tasting station and hand out discount coupons. If you’re a service provider, give out free consultations.
Open Houses Are Not Just for Realtors
As a business owner, you can use the “Open-House” approach and create a networking party with your customers. Create this day to allow people to come and get to know you and your business. Use this idea as a soft approach to get potential shoppers through your door. You are not offering any type of discount or promotion on this day, just simply asking them to come by and get to know you. This day can be a social gathering of you and your potential customers. Get to know who they are, what they want and don’t want. Who knows, with this approach you can become the business on the block that is known to be the life of the party.
Engrain the Social Media Craze
When you are preparing your promotional calendar, it is important to have some Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts scheduled. Try to post interesting and relevant information about your store and the upcoming holidays. When you post your discounts and sales, try to be more engaging. Tell your customers why you are having this promotion. Is it for a good cause, are you gearing up for new inventory, so you’re slashing your prices? Whatever the reason, try to give your customers a little bit more information about your post. You could even run special campaigns on Facebook or even a Facebook Photo Contest to help with engagement.
Remember the holiday season is a time of happiness, family, friends and giving. Consumers are in a happy state of mind, so throw in a few unique twists their way will be sure to notice and appreciate.