For most retailers, the holiday season is the most wonderful and critical time for sales. If a storefront business can capitalize on the increased foot traffic and spending, it has the potential to catapult earnings into a strong first quarter and carry revenue into spring. What if there was a way to prolong the holiday season? What if you could implement a few strategies in the New Year that would help sustain you when things slow down?
Here are four practical marketing strategies you can implement today to help keep your cash flowing:
Clean & Clarify
When things are hectic, it’s so easy for small businesses to overlook areas that need cleaning and organizing. Entrepreneurs typically don’t prioritize cleaning when sales are rolling in, but the slow months are the perfect time to push a scrub-down to the top of your list. Physically clean your storefront. Most business owners never walk through the front door of their shops. Take some time, enter from the front, and meticulously scan your store for areas to improve. When things pick up in the spring, you’ll be thankful you did.
This clean sweep also includes your email inboxes, social media platforms, and other electronic cobwebs. Is there out-of-date information on your website? Are you displaying employee headshots for people who are no longer employed with your company? These are the types of things that get overlooked during busy seasons.
Also, carve out time to clarify your mission and vision. Think critically about your business. Maybe you’ve added new services and phased out others. Using this time to assess the health of your business and solidify your goals will help guide and ground your business decisions for the year to come.
Check in with your existing client base and incentivize them for supporting your business. It’s easier and cheaper to keep customers than obtain new ones. It’s never too late to give your customers gifts. Perhaps it’s a free cup of coffee, 50 percent off any one item, or a good old-fashioned buy-one-get-one sale.
The goal is to give your loyal customers a reason to make a trip to see you.
To make this work, you also need to define your primary method of communicating to your customers. Your customers need to know where to look for the latest news in your business. Most strategists prefer an email list, but you could certainly use Facebook or Instagram as well. (Just note that your social media followers may miss an update if/when the social media algorithms change. Even if someone has liked your page, they may not see your posts in their newsfeed.)
Think of your email list and social media accounts like a digital storefront. As often as you change things inside your store, you should continue to change things online and keep your customers informed.
Establish a core group of businesses that serve the same customers you do. For example, a real estate agent may develop an informal group with a mortgage lender, an insurance agent and handyman. You could also form a group with nearby businesses. When your group is clearly defined, go have a meal with those business owners and create some type of event (in person or online) that can benefit your customer base. Communities like Wyndhurst, Cornerstone, and the Boonsboro Shopping Center are perfectly poised to do collaborative advertising. They can drive traffic to their area and split the cost amongst the participating businesses.
Organizations like the Downtown Lynchburg Association are so successful because they have mastered the art of collaboration—and leveraging social followings to drive traffic. For example, they host an annual event called “Get Downtown” to drive students and others to businesses near the historic Main Street. They create marketing materials and encourage participating businesses to share the print and social content as well. While the Association has a significant following of almost 10,000 people on Facebook, new eyes see their content when other businesses repost, retweet, email, and share. If you can leverage the email lists or social media followings of other businesses, you can continue to grow your business even after the Christmas trees have seen their last leg.
Don’t forget about Valentine’s Day. Business owners tend to throw a lot of energy into the holiday season and spend January recovering and working on their taxes. But Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Although shoppers tend to spend less during this holiday than Christmas, it’s still a vital time for industries like restaurants and florists. Pull some items aside and consider hosting events to give your customers ideas for creative, affordable Valentine’s Day gifts to get a quick infusion of cash during first quarter.