I’m sure you are in the same race to the end of the year that most small business owners face around the country, and around the globe. No matter your political persuasion, this year’s election campaign cycle was surprising not only because of the outcome, but also since it was so hyped up in the media that we didn’t realize time was passing so quickly. And, so, here we are, 35 or so holiday shopping days. And, you need to grab the opportunities that avail small businesses during the winter holidays shopping season. Alexandria SBDC’s final Business Development Roundtable of 2016, was focused on last-minute holiday marketing and the group had many ideas about how to show your company’s best image during the holidays. Here are some highlights and my thoughts from the discussion at this month’s Roundtable.
Traditionally the major winter holidays season run from late October until the end of December. As a last-minute holiday marketer, you can still benefit from the vast amount of dollars spent during this holiday shopping season. First, attune your target market to the season by decorating not just your retail environments and offices, but make sure that your website, social media profiles, and even your email marketing templates match the holiday seasonal themes. You can also devise promotions, discounts and giveaways that match your company’s style and target markets. You can choose to call your top 20% of customers to let them know about the sales, email your clients through your email marketing software, and post signage in your retail windows and doors (as allowed by your local authorities) so that passersby know about the holiday buying opportunities. These are all simple and easy to do, even at the last-minute.
Over the past decade, we’ve had a new series of “shopping” holidays born here in the United States. Remarkably, they don’t all stem from pure commercialism; but, we’re Small Business entrepreneurs here, so let’s put on our healthy capitalism hats and take advantage of these selling opportunities for our businesses, whether retail or service-based. Those shopping holidays are Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday.
You can research each of these holidays and learn more about their traditions and various tactics for being able to sell to your target markets on these days. Something to take note of is that these holidays are shifting in a variety of ways, such as Black Friday is starting to creep into Thanksgiving Day, Small Business Saturday is turning into week-long and sometimes month-long celebrations of the Shop Small movement in some Main Street areas, and Cyber Monday is being celebrated early on Cyber Saturday. Learning about these differences can help inform future years’ holiday marketing campaigns.
So, what can you do last-minute? I suggest you think of some creative way to provide a promotion or discount to your target market and communicate to them via email. Since you don’t have very much time, email is the most effective mechanism unless you have a large and highly engaged Social Media following.
Community and Charitable Efforts
Finally, even last-minute, there’s always an opportunity to bring the spirit of the winter holidays season to your target market by partnering with charitable and community-based organizations in your area, so reach out to them and see in what ways you can do so. It may be as simple as making a donation to the organization of choice in your clients’ honor, or coordinating a food drive for those in need. Holiday campaigns that build goodwill for your business during the winter holidays season brings top-of-mind awareness for sales in the New Year.
As we close out 2016, Alexandria Small Business Development Center and I thank you, all the Roundtable participants who have joined us through 2016! The Roundtable is a free program where we bring you, Small Business owners and allies, throughout Alexandria together to discuss issues important to Small Business in Alexandria. Without your contributions and attendance there would be no Roundtable. I have the pleasure and honor to have been the facilitator of the Roundtable for going on seven years and I welcome those who have not yet joined us at the Roundtable before or those who have been away for a while, to come join us in 2017. You’re welcome to bring your lunch, your thoughts and experiences, and absorb the wisdom of your fellow Alexandria Small Business owners.
Be safe and enjoy time with those with whom you care about this winter holidays season! See you in 2017!