If you’re like many business owners, this time of the year can be one of your best revenue-generating period.
But, if you’re like many business owners in 2020, that holiday income may seem just out of reach. I recently gave a webinar on 5 Last-Minute Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses and here’s a bit of what I discussed.
This is where you start:
- Recognize key dates and shopper types
- Set up ecommerce/curbside/delivery
- Create your holiday offers
- Select the right tools for the job
- Analyze your results and react
Popular Shopping Dates
When it comes to key shopping dates, we’re all well aware of the big ones like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But did you know you can take advantage of other iconic shopping days in 2020 like Shop Small Saturday, Nov. 28; Super Saturday, Dec. 19; Christmas Eve, Dec. 24; Kwanzaa, Dec. 26-Jan. 1; and New Year’s Eve/Day, Dec. 31-Jan. 1.
Shoppers tend to follow habits that are reasonably straightforward. You have your early bird shoppers (all year especially late fall); your deal seekers (stalking Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals); the last-minute shopper (like my husband); but then there are the evergreen shoppers…those who shop continually across the entire shopping period and beyond.
If you want to sell this holiday season, you’re probably going to need to have an online presence.
On your website, you can set up ecommerce platforms that will allow you to sell merchandise and services and process payments and taxes and shipping fees. Some platforms go so far as to print out shipping labels and track customer returns. Whatever you choose, be sure to compare its compatibility with your existing website or sales platforms before you install it.
But what if your website won’t bear up under the weight of ecommerce?
I’m a Constant Contact partner and, if you have 2-3 products to sell, their Shoppable Landing Page could be a nice tool to investigate. The page is relatively easy to set up and can be a sales page for up to 3 products at their base introductory rate.
This platform doesn’t do as well with services or downloadable purchases. But it’s great for products. There are other ecommerce options out there as well as partners (who take a share of your revenues) like shopify, etsy, and other clearinghouses.
You might also check into a Facebook shop for your products. Lots of merchandise is sold via Facebook every day and the process to get started is pretty painless. You should create a Business Page on Facebook anyway, and after that it’s just some extra setup to begin selling.
Making the Offer
Now that you have a way to get the product to the customer, let’s decide what to offer! Many businesses operate at a small-enough margin without giving things away! I get that. But, we’re all shopping for that next best deal so here are some ideas that won’t break your bank:
- Discount Deals: Things like 15% off new items; discounts for purchases over a certain amount; multiple point discounts that increase with the volume of purchase or even something entirely prepared for just your special customers.
- Free Gift Ideas: You might offer something like free gift wrapping (who wouldn’t go for that???), added value like a gift buying guide or holiday planning infographic. Anything that 1) won’t cost you an arm and a leg; and 2) will make your customers feel special.
- Services Ideas: You don’t have to sell products to get into the promo game. How about a coupon for a free half-hour consultation? Or maybe a bring-a-friend-for-free virtual offer. Online fundraisers are golden at this time of year, so don’t forget to consider your nonprofit organizations in the planning. A free “Ask Me Anything” session (if you’re someone like me) can help out your (potential) customers a lot.
Selecting the Tools
Once you’ve decided what to offer, it’s time to select the tools you need to get the word out.
My top five tools and the reasons why include:
- Use your website. Update your website. Now. Tomorrow. Next week. Google loves people who edit their sites and your website should be your home base for everything about your business. Especially important to mention are hours, location, delivery/pickup policies, and, right now, a written COVID statement is a big draw for customers who want to “know before they go.”
- Next up are your listings. By “listings” I’m talking about referral sites like Yelp or Trip Advisor…but, and this is more important in my mind…what about your Google My Business Page? If you’re leaning back right now thinking, “I’ve got that covered…I have Google+, you’re going to need to pivot. A Google My Business Page is one of the best (and free) ways to make sure your business is being found in google search results (plus Google+ died a while ago). Claim the page, verify it’s a real business, and start posting. Be sure to use your Call To Action (what you want people to do) everywhere including here.
- Social Media is your next valuable tool. Use your social media pages to share exactly what we’re talking about above. Your offers. Your hours and policies. Your achievements. Your special packages. Your pickup or delivery options. Your images (because rarely should a social media post have text with no images; just waisting newsfeed space). Be genuine and ask questions about what people would like. Find out which of two products is the fan favorite and promote that for sale through social.
- I’m a big email marketing fan, so it’s no surprise it shows up here. Email marketing can have a 400% return on investment AND can provide you with a valuable straight line of communication to your email subscribers. Emails don’t have to be long tomes of information; a simple product promo, description, image, and call to action could be sufficient to generate revenues for you.
- Paid ads can be a boost to your business (see what I did there), but it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of boosting a post, while not knowing exactly why or what it nets you. A post which is boosted on Facebook shows an existing post to more people. An ad allows you to tailor your content and images and deliver them to your chosen audience – often a much wider reach. Google Ads will help drive your business to the top of the search results. The trick is to figure out how much your competitor is spending to hold that position, then outspend them by just enough to bump them into second place. As little as $10 a day can do this for you, depending on the competition. And you 1) only pay when someone clicks; and 2) can turn the ads on an off at will. Not a bad deal all around.
Putting it All Together
So you have your strategy, your tools, your (potential) customers, and your offer in mind, now how do you put it into the right words to make it work?
When crafting a message (social post, update, email blast, etc.) it’s important to keep it brief but still provide all the details a reader needs to take action.
- What are you offering? Put that in your headline and make them want to read more
- How will what you are offering help ME? Let the reader know what your product or service has that others don’t.
- Tell them what to do next. What is the call to action. Is it “Buy Now” or “Learn More”? Whatever you want them to do, tell them clearly and obviously with a button or all capital letters perhaps.
As the dust settles on the holiday shopping season, be prepared to start this process all over again for the post-holiday shopping season! There’s still money to be made. Think of all those gift cards (especially this year). By the way, do YOU have a gift card?
Evaluating Your Progress
Working in tandem, email, social media, your website, and a few small ads should begin to show you some revenue results in a pretty short period of time. If you don’t see results, tweak things around. Maybe the offer isn’t attractive enough? Maybe your product doesn’t differentiate itself from competitors enough? Maybe your ad isn’t reaching the desired audience.
Whatever you do, don’t give up! Keep trying new things until you find the one that works and then let’s go sell the crap out of this holiday season.
In the meantime, stay safe and help each other out.
If you have any questions, give Cheri Bales at Hannah/Gold Communications a call at 269-341-3786 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.