Winter is Coming: 6 Tips to Help your Small Business Slay the Holiday Season

Brace yourselves; winter is coming. The holiday shopping season is already upon us. Is your business positioned not only to cope but to thrive during this busy time of year? If you haven’t taken the steps to prepare, don’t worry! Here are six tips to help your small business slay the holiday season.

Make Sure Your Website is Updated and Optimized

Now is a great time to do a quick audit of your website to make sure that everything is working as it should be. The importance of omnichannel retailing has grown exponentially and you want to make sure that your customer can find your products not only on the shelves of your store or your retailers’, but also online and more specifically from any smartphone. Stats show that in 2014 mobile accounted for over half of all holiday shopping traffic. Make sure your website is compatible with laptops, smartphones, and tablets alike. Also, you can use a tool like Google PageSpeed Insights to quickly test and solve for any issues on your website that could be slowing down its performance.

Know Your Employee Holiday Schedule

Maintaining good customer service, making sales, responding to purchase orders, etc. is tough when nobody is around to answer the phone. Make sure you know when your employees are taking holiday vacation and plan accordingly. Seems like a no brainer, but you would be surprised.

Create a Holiday Marketing Campaign

If you haven’t created a marketing plan for the season, there are a few simple things you can do to get started without breaking the bank. Social media is an inexpensive and effective way to reach your customers where they are especially during the holidays. Use a social media management system like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule social blasts about your product and any special offers you have. Quickly create beautiful and engaging visual content to accompany your messages using Canva. Hootsuite makes it easy to run coupon campaigns that will get your customers in the stores. Most social platforms offer advertising options that can target users who are already close to storefronts where your product is located. Choose which shopping holidays you plan to participate in, and create a few ad campaigns to target your customers:

    • Black Friday / Buy Nothing Day – Friday, November 27, 2014
    • Small Business Saturday – Saturday, November 28, 2014
    • Cyber Monday – Monday, November 30, 2014
    • Free Shipping Day – Friday, December 18, 2014

Don’t Forget Your Fans!

If you’ve got a mailing list, blog subscribers, etc. of your current buyers, don’t leave them out! Plan a holiday newsletter now and let your fans know what your company has been up to, where they can find your product, any special new products you’re offering, and even a special holiday deal just for current subscribers if you plan to offer one (and you should). For more ideas surrounding holiday email marketing for both your current and future fans, you can subscribe to some tips Mail Chimp put together in conjunction with Google, Facebook, Twitter, Shopify, and WooCommerce. You’ll have to give up your e-mail to get the info but we’ve found some of the tips like how to avoid spam filters during the holidays especially useful.

Know Your Cash Position

This is a big one. Don’t be too preoccupied with thoughts of cash coming in that you lose track of where you’re at. If you’re working with a distributor, you may be ready to ship out a big chunk of product in anticipation of the influx and will have a few invoices you’ll likely sit on until the season is over. If you’re selling from your own store, you may have just have invested a significant amount to fill your own shelves. And while the holidays are bound to bring in some benjamins, a few months of slower traffic are sure to follow. Be sure you have a good handle on where your finances are at and make sure you’re prepared. We’ve got a great webinar we hosted with NOW CFO on cash-flow forecasting for companies at all stages which has some tools to help you pinpoint your cash position and plan ahead.

Think Long-Term

You’re inevitably going to connect with a lot of new customers over the holidays, but how do you convert them into long-term buyers? Identify some ways you can connect with and engage your new fans after the holidays are over. Maybe you can offer a discount coupon for future purchases. Maybe you reward buyers who post a photo of themselves with your product on their social media and tag your company—thereby gaining them as a follower. Whatever your method, continuing the customer relationship with your new buyers should be a big focus of your holiday strategy. For more ideas, check out this article on Search Engine Watch.

We hope you have a wonderfully successful holiday season. Subscribe to our blog and receive occasional (and always helpful) tools to help grow your small business right to your inbox.  Have a specific obstacle or challenge you want us to write about? Leave us some feedback in the box below and we will tackle the topic!

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