As we prepare for the height of the holiday season, one in which spending is predicted to be lukewarm at best, local businesses can get smart by planning and implementing thoughtful marketing campaigns that provide consumers relief where they need it most: their wallets. With Black Friday quickly approaching, time is of the essence to get a plan in place and begin implementing it.
While it can seem a bit overwhelming, there are plenty of low-cost options to keep a small business fully engaged with its customers and achieve a high return on investment.
To start, it’s smart to get into the heads of customers to glean their holiday shopping plans in order to provide them with what they need. Using an online survey can provide a customer’s view into your products and services, allowing a local business to quickly adjust offerings by adding better promotions, coupons, or offerings. Customer feedback can also help gauge when customers plan to do the bulk of their shopping, which can help tailor the timing of emails and other promotional efforts.
On the email front, I recommend sending out communications at least monthly leading into the holidays, then increasing the frequency as the holiday nears. As the frequency increases, it’s very important to recognize you need to cut back on the amount of content and deliver messages that will capture their attention. Bring customers to you by offering incentives that will bring them to your store. For example, a kitchen store could offer free knife sharpening or cool demonstrations.
Do not limit marketing to email though. Extend campaigns to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter by offering similar deals to your fans and followers. For those overwhelmed with putting together a newsletter and are worried about coming up with additional content, there’s no need to fret. Less is more when it comes to communicating with your customers.
Finally, get creative with promotions. Think about co-hosting a seasonal event with a complementary business in your area. Joint market the event and reach twice as many potential customers. Maybe your local wine shop would showcase your handmade jewelry for one night during the season while they also host a wine tasting party.
Once the holidays have passed and the receipts are tallied, the job is not done. It’s vital to follow-up with customers to gauge their experience. Use a survey to find out what they liked or didn’t like and use the information to make adjustments for the next holiday season. For longer surveys, provide an incentive for people to take the time to share their opinion. A coupon to your store gives them value and may help drive post-holiday sales.
It is a bit daunting the number of ways one can reach out to customers. The good news is that with the right plan in place, a small business can effectively reach out to more customers than ever before with a limited budget.
About The Guest Author: Eric S. Groves is the Senior Vice President, Global Market Development with Constant Contact since January 2001 and built the sales and business development departments from the ground up, helping propel Constant Contact’s growth to more than 300,000 customers today.