It’s that time of year again! You can feel the shopping energy vibrating in the air just waiting to be released upon the world. The question is, how do you harness that energy to your advantage when you are a small business? How do you compete with big box stores, almost blindingly bright ad campaigns, all those mailers and catalogs? There are ways to stand out among the crowd, and if you back it up you can find a loyal group of supporters who will help you build your business throughout the holiday season and beyond.
1. Start Now! We see it every year and no matter how resistant you may be, the holiday campaigning and promotions start earlier and earlier every year. Starting before the holidays to stay ahead is a must for any business, particularly small businesses. If you don’t get in front of your audience before someone else does their attention is already elsewhere, or at best, divided.
2. Take Advantage of Small Business Saturday (November 28). Small Business Saturday is a ready-made campaign that has become part of the holiday shopping trinity. Those who feel like Black Friday has gotten out of control but don’t want to just sit at home on Cyber Monday for their holiday shopping embrace Small Business Saturday. Piggybacking on the #SmallBusinessSaturday trend is one of the best ways you can drive holiday sales.
3. Stand Out with Service. Why do some prefer to be patrons of small business? Service. A friendly face and knowing exactly what to expect from the same group of people is comforting and is exactly what makes the difference between small businesses who succeed and those that don’t. During the holiday season service in big business is lost to profits, time away from the office and bigger clients or customers. Everyone dreads the service gap during the holiday season, reassure them you will be there to take care of their needs with excellent service and make sure you BACK IT UP.
4. Make Sure Your Website Reflects Your Campaign. It’s an easy detail to forget about, especially when you are a small business and the only part of your website you stare at all day is the one that tells you how many people have been there. Whether you’re promoting a special event or a deal for the holidays, it needs to be on your website. The more prominently it is displayed, the better the return. If you can create a dedicated page to direct people to your offering temporarily, you’ve got an excellent way to measure your campaign success.
5. Optimize for Google and Mobile. Make sure your Google search results reflect your hours, your company information and location accurately. If even one of these details is missing or incorrect it could undo all the effort you have put in to your campaign. Your website should also be mobile responsive, meaning it should look good and work well even on a smartphone. If not, you will lose customers who are looking for a seamless navigation experience online.
6. Social, Social, Social! We know you know this by now, but social media is a must during the holidays. Encourage social sharing of your specialsand products with lots of images. Photos rule during this time of year on Facebook, Twitter and of course Instagram. Package gifts with social share hashtags and fun shareable campaign messages for a slurry of shares when they are opened. If you want the granddaddy of engagement, videos will draw like crazy on social media and a short promotional video on a platform like Periscope can do wonders for your brand.
7. Use Google to Your Advantage. If you have an online store, Google ads can be your best friend during this time of year. Google pay per click advertising allows you to target your ideal customer by location, age, interests and more. Target locals and encourage local shopping, supporting small business, unique gifts and the like. As your audience starts responding, you get analytic reporting on who is most likely to click on your ads and which ads are working best. Advertising during a peak shopping season gives you an excellent opportunity for a crash course in who you should be targeting all year ‘round and which message works best.
8. Be Unique. This is what small business is all about- going against the grain and taking chances! Stand out with native, organic content. Highlight what makes your business/service/product special and put it out there for everyone to see! Use imaging and messaging that will stand out from the average holiday fare. Look at where everyone else is going and choose a new direction.
Are you putting together your marketing plan for the New Year? Contact our office for a free consultation and discover what Hot Dog Marketing can do to help you stand out in 2016!
My first love is writing and my true passion is helping others, whether it be in business, personally or through community organizations. I have an affinity for many forms of media, particularly film and television, and write about both. I am a geek for social media, analytics and generally anything marketing or advertising related (particularly in the digital realm).