The holidays are one of the most critical times of the year for many small business owners. As frantic shoppers look for the perfect presents, restaurants are booked up for office parties and cafes have their espresso machines on overdrive, it can be easy to forget critical steps to capitalize on the busiest time of the year.
A study by Accenture found that Canadian consumers plan to spend more on holiday shopping than they did in 2014, with many looking to Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing Day to cash in on savings. That’s why these next few weeks are so important for small businesses to foster relationships, loyal customers and future brand loyalists. So, before the holiday craze hits, here are five must-do’s to put on your To Do list.
1. Get Social
The importance of social media has been talked about for years, as it enables small businesses to really connect with their customers. For many, the biggest hurdle of social media is finding the time to invest in it, but you need to ensure that your social media feeds stay consistent – even when your hands are full.
For example, you can ask a staff member to help with posting behind-the-scenes photos of new inventory or menu items that are available for a limited time, or use platforms like Hootsuite to schedule and organize your postings. And you can always elicit help from a digital marketing company that can manage your platforms and track your ROI.
Remember, always give audiences a reason to stay up to date on your newsfeed by offering exclusive content and giveaways to entice them to walk through your door.
2. Loyalty Programs
Stamp cards have been popular for years, and digital versions have made it easier than ever to track your customers and collect data on their spending habits. Data can seem daunting, to say the least. However technology is getting much more user-friendly, so small business owners should take advantage of this crucial information to increase their sales.
3. Start Texting
A Canadian Marketing Association survey found that 80 per cent of Millennials are using their smartphones while shopping, and prefer businesses to send them location-based offers and rewards.
With technology like iBeacons and geo-fencing, you can see when a client is within 50 metres of your storefront, giving you the perfect opportunity to send a quick, customized message or special offer.
Don’t have time to implement this technology yet? Use the direct message feature on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or Facebook to connect with your customer directly. And don’t forget to send your clients emails as well – just be sure to send your emails carefully.
4. Staff Appropriately
No business owner wants to have a potential customer leave due to the lack of helpful staff on-site. Make sure you have enough efficient, knowledgeable employees so that customers, inventory and cleanliness are up to your high standards.
5. Make It Easy
From gift wrapping to shipping, offer every channel possible to make the shopping experience seamless for your customers. You will often find that many are willing to pay a little extra for the convenience of saving them a trip to the store to buy cards, tape or boxes.
You can do this by making your website e-commerce friendly, by sending customers sizing charts or by emailing them more detailed photos of your product. And make sure your customer service outshines the competition by staying on top of your emails and phone calls .
Perhaps the most critical tip of all is to have fun. Positivity is contagious. If a customer walks into a happy and vibrant environment, they’ll be much more inclined to stay a little longer and peruse your store or order a second cup of coffee.
Your business’ culture is your secret weapon, so enjoy the holiday season and chat with your customers – they could be your future brand loyalists!
Want to know more? Take advantage of Small Business BC’s wide selection of seminars for entrepreneurs and small to medium-sized business owners. Space is limited, so don’t miss your chance to register today.
Plus, don’t forget that you can meet one-on-one with an expert to get specific information that applies to your business by booking an appointment with Small Business BC’s Ask the Expert service now.