5 Ways to Create a Holiday Retail Rush for Your Small Business
December 3, 2014
By Susan Ward
Children may dream of sugarplums, but for retailers, there’s only one vision that matters during the run-up to the Christmas holidays; the sales graph. And as the Christmas holiday season is make or break time for many small businesses, the overwhelming question is how to get more sales and make that graph climb as steeply as possible.
The obvious answer to “how to get more sales” is to get more customers. Assuming you have a quality product or service, the more people who see or experience what you have to offer, the more sales you’ll make.
To do that, though, you have to get potential customers into your store. With a little effort and some ingenuity, that’s not as hard as you think. Use one or more of these ideas to create your own retail rush:
1) Have a sale.
Hey! I can hear you slapping your forehead and muttering, “Well, duh!”
But before you dismiss this idea out-of-hand, consider this: pretty well every retailer of every size has some kind of Christmas season sale - because they work.
Now consider this: what if you didn't just have a sale but had one of the sales that just about everyone wanted to attend?
How? Keep these tips in mind:
Offer one big bargain a day. Offering big discounts (30% or more) on some one well-known item each day to bring Christmas shoppers in can work for you if you have well-known brand merchandise or particular items that people are looking for.
Make it a discount, not a thing. In a flyer recently, a retailer offered a free pair of socks to anyone spending over $20 in their store over their three day pre-Christmas sale. But what if I feel I have enough socks or that socks just aren't very Christmassy? They've lost me.
Make sure your discount is worthwhile. Shoppers are used to being spoiled. So puny little 5, 10 or even 20 percent discounts aren't going to cut it unless you do something like a 20% off storewide sale. On individual items, the higher the discount the better. Shoppers will compare.
And advertise your sale heavily on the most appropriate marketing channels for your ideal customers; social media, newspapers, radio etc. (See 19 Advertising Ideas for Small Businesses.) People need to hear about it if they’re going to turn out!
2) Hold an event.
As I write this, the Business in Action group in my little town is holding a Moonlight Madness event. There will be fire-wielders, jugglers and musicians performing and, of course, Santa will be visiting.
Families who come downtown get all kinds of free entertainment – and lots of opportunity to get their Christmas shopping done as all the downtown businesses are open until midnight and have special sales going on. If your town doesn’t have something like this going on this season that your small business can participate in, what would it take to get such an event going next year?
There’s nothing to prevent you from holding an event of your own either. The trick is to create an event that will tie in to your products or services in some way.
For instance, a kitchen store could hold a cooking class and benefit from increased sales of the products used in the class. A yoga studio could hold a free class to encourage January signup – and offer gift certificates to encourage participants to spread the word.
Put your thinking cap on and ask yourself, “Why would I go to that (event)?” (In other words, what’s the benefit to the customer? No benefit = no turnout.)
3) Use email campaigns.
Social media is hot. But email is effective. Neil Patel, founder of QuickSprout, says that “in spite of social media's viral potential, email still wins as the most disruptive method to reach and woo your customers” and points out that according to McKinsey, email marketing is three times more effective than social media, and the average customer order is 17% higher.
Hopefully you’ve already got an email newsletter going out. It’s an ideal spot to promote the products or services you’re featuring over the Christmas season and spread the word about any sales or events you’re having.
But don’t be afraid to send out separate emails as part of a marketing campaign either. The one bargain a day idea might work well for you as a daily email, for example.
Whatever email you send out to customers, be sure to court them personally. Besides being sure to use the recipients’ first name in the subject line (which increases the click through rate, according to HubSpot), you could send customers special offers such as extra discounts just for them, buy-one-get-one-free deals not available to the general public, etc. The message is "you're special" - a hard message to resist.
4) Create an attractive window display for your small business.
Take advantage of the extra foot traffic out during the holiday season by using an eye-catching, foot-stopping Christmas window display.
Incorporating your products is great if you can manage it, but what’s really great about a Christmas window display is that you don’t have to. A totally Christmas themed display can work well.
What you want is something unique that’s going to draw the eye. And incorporating some kind of movement can really draw a crowd. One of the most successful Christmas displays I’ve ever seen involved a train that ran around a track.
Most important of all is to work your crowd. A bunch of people standing around watching a train go round or admiring your gorgeous arrangement of ornaments does nothing for your business. You have to bring them into your store. Try offering visitors a free hot drink and a cookie - seasonal and irresistible to most.
5) Use proximity marketing to lure shoppers into your store.
Many shoppers are glued to their phones to the point that they might walk right by your store without seeing it.
But by using proximity marketing that broadcasts your targeted message to phones within a certain distance, such as iBeacon or Smart Antenna, you can entice those shoppers in – and offer them personalized offers to encourage them to buy more.
Smart Antenna looks especially appealing because it operates through Bluetooth and WIFI and doesn’t require potential customers to download an app as iBeacon does.
Invite Them & They Will Come
So there are five marketing ideas you can use to get more customers into your store over the holiday season so you can rack up more Christmas sales. There’s no reason why all five of them can’t be part of your Christmas season marketing plan.
But remember; whatever you do to create your own retail rush, you have to get the word out to your target market about what you’re doing. Send out that email, place those ads, use social media. Don’t let this Christmas season be a retail non-event for your business because you didn’t invite your customers to your store.
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