Sparkling lights, towering trees, and songs on repeat that you love to hate. The holidays are a fantastic season, and for small businesses, they offer an opportunity to increase sales and finish out the year with a bang!
The holiday season can account for as much as 35.5% of annual sales for a retail business, with the National Retail Federation (NFR) predicting that shoppers will splash out between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion in the United States this November and December. What’s more, the NRF expects that between $262.8 billion and $267.6 billion of those sales will be online or through other non-store sales, up 10% to 12% compared to last year, so nailing your digital marketing and sales strategy has never been more important.
In this article, we’re going to go through 10 of the best ways to increase sales this holiday season so you can end the year in the black and have very happy holidays indeed!
1. Launch a Holiday Campaign with A Gift Card Offer
Everyone dreads buying someone a gift they don’t like – a half-baked smile and a meek thanks, and you know your present is going straight into a cupboard. Gift cards are a great way to ensure people get what they want this holiday season, and if your small business offers them, it’s a brilliant way for you to increase sales.
Even if you offer gift cards throughout the year, take the time to run a dedicated holiday campaign to promote your gift cards to customers. This could include a promotional offer for gift cards – e.g., $5 free when you add $50 – or offering gift cards as the promotion by including one alongside the purchase of other goods, for example.
2. Send Holiday Emails to Your Mailing List
Sales emails are low-cost, simple, and highly targeted, making them one of the most valuable channels for many small businesses. If you’re looking to increase sales this holiday season, then a dedicated campaign is a must. There are plenty of ways to go about sending a holiday email, but one of the most important things to keep in mind is: make it useful.
Customers are being bombarded with marketing, so make sure yours stands out by offering them something that will help rather than hinder their gift-buying this year.
Some possible ideas are:
A gift-buying guide
Many people struggle to know what to get, especially across generations, and a guide for the holiday season can be priceless.
This is less directly focused on purchasing for most stores but is likely to engage customers far more than your regular holiday newsletter.
Clear savings are important for those looking to save a little cash this holiday season.
Let your existing customers know you appreciate them by sending out a simple e-card. There’s no harm in getting in the festive spirit!
3. Use Social Media to Your Advantage
Don’t just blast social media with your holiday offers; they’ll get lost in the mix and take up far more time than they’re worth. The first step for using social media to increase sales and drive customer engagement is reflecting on what has worked before – check your analytics to see which platforms your audience engages with and which they don’t. You can throw thousands of dollars at paid ads on a platform, but if your target audience doesn’t use it, you’re not going to increase sales.
In addition to posting your products and offers, you should also consider opportunities to collaborate with others. Influencers are a vital part of social media marketing, especially on Instagram, and can help boost brand awareness and increase sales. As a small business, it’s unlikely that you’ll be looking for major online celebs, but think about your target market and find individuals within that niche.
4. Get on the Email List at Your Local Newspaper and Media Outlets
One of the best ways to generate interest in your small business is through PR. People are far more likely to listen to a story than an ad, and by getting your company in local newspapers and media outlets, you can drum up attention and increase sales this holiday season.
The first step for a good PR campaign for small businesses is building a relationship with your local media. This means reaching out, getting on mailing lists, and getting yourself known. Then it’s time to actually give them something to write about – this could be a story about you (such as a holiday event) or one that you offer to produce that will have value to their readers. For example, if you run a small electronics outlet, you could offer to write a guide on setting up and protecting gadgets this holiday.
5. Send a Thank You Note to Clients or Customers
Not all communication has to be about sales. In fact, not all communication should be about sales. Take the holidays as an opportunity to send a thank you note to customers and clients, even if it is just a short email. Avoid making this message sound like a sales email – leave out the discount codes and holiday offers and focus on building stronger, long-term relationships with your customers – it will increase sales in the long term!
Sending a thank you note is especially important if you work in a service business with clients since it builds goodwill and keeps you in their minds as we enter the new year.
6. Host a Contest or Giveaway That Encourages People to Visit Your Store Again and Again
Everybody loves a giveaway – the excitement of the unknown mixed with the chance of getting something for nothing is irresistible. Use them, as well as contests, to generate repeat customers and increase sales. Giveaways and contests are great at any time of the year, but especially so during the holidays when they can be themed.
Small businesses can run simple giveaways on social media or in-store, where customers just have to sign up, or more complex contests that require submissions, like winter photos or card designs. Simple giveaways are likely to generate broader interest with more people, while contests will likely have fewer, more invested, entrants.
Submission-based contests can also provide your small business with more marketing material – photos to be shared, designs to be printed, etc. Consider which will work best for increasing sales at your business.
7. Partner with a Charity for a Program That Donates Part of Your Profits
The holidays are a time of giving, and your small business can get involved by partnering with a charity this year. It’s often better to find a local organization since this will have a more direct impact on your customer base.
Donating part of your profits, or goods in kind, is a worthy thing to do in its own right and an excellent opportunity to give back to your community. However, it can also help increase your sales by building brand recognition, goodwill, and reach. Partnering up with a charity is also the kind of story that you should pass on to your local media, as mentioned above.
8. Offer Bulk Discounts
During the holidays, each customer will likely be buying for a long list of people – simplify their life and cut their costs by offering bulk discounts. This is much more effective for small items that a person is likely to give to multiple people (think chocolates to all the kids), but still works across the board.
Offering bulk discounts is a very direct way to increase sales, but can also help attract customers to your store where they may make more or bigger purchases. For example, if you work at a boutique, you could offer a bulk discount on socks (a small and relatively inexpensive item), with the expectation that once browsing, customers are likely to add one or two other things to their basket.
9. Be Generous With Samples
We talked earlier about people loving free stuff, and nowhere is this more apparent than through the power of the product sample! Giving away your goods for free can seem counterintuitive when trying to increase sales, but studies have shown that product samples have an immediate and sustained positive impact on sales. What’s more, the study found that sampling is better for smaller stores than bigger ones, meaning this is one strategy that gives your small business an edge over your big-box competitors.
On the other hand, if you’re offering up samples but being less-than-generous, the whole thing can actually backfire. People will walk away mad that you were being sparing with your samples, forgetting you were giving them out free to begin with!
10. Offer a Wrapping Service
However great they are, the holidays are also extremely stressful. Therefore, anything that makes people’s lives a little easier can be a major draw to your small business. Whether taking orders online or in-store, if you’re selling physical goods and have the capacity, consider offering a wrapping service – it takes one more thing off people’s to-do lists.
If you’re selling the same thing as a competitor, but buying from you means not having to wrap gifts, who will a customer choose?
Ideally, gift wrapping should be factored into your costs and offered for free, but find what works for you.
Time to Wrap Up Here
The holidays are a fantastic opportunity for small businesses to increase sales and end the new year in the black. People are out looking to spend; all you have to do is put yourself in the spotlight.
These ten tips can help you increase sales regardless of your budget or experience using everything from simple messages sent via email to partnerships and PR to bring in the crowds. Experiment with some or all of them to find what works for your small business and boost your sales this holiday season.