Concern over the holiday shopping season is one that's looming large on most business owners’ minds. Will it be a good one? Can it be so good that it makes up for a disappointing spring and summer? If you're concerned about these things, you're not alone. And there are things you can do to make your business sales this holiday season better, even if you don’t have a lot of time.
DIY Marketing Education
If you are a small business owner or employee wearing a lot of hats, you probably don't have a marketing person. If that's the case, there may be many things about marketing that you don't know.
These things are easy to learn because there's a lot of free information out there. The difficulty is making the time to learn the tools and tricks and figuring out what free resources are the most credible.
The world is full of marketing gurus. Separating the good from the bad advice can be challenging. Here are a couple of good resources to help you get up and running quickly on the things you need to know about marketing:
- The chamber of commerce. This is an excellent source of information as they not only provide webinars and learning opportunities but they're familiar with the intricacies of your local area. Some of their sessions may even be free to non-members or, at least, very affordable. In addition to the educational components of the chamber, you may want to find out about their small business or shop local program. Chambers have large reach and you may be able to get in front of a different audience by working with them.
- Facebook’s Season of Support. Facebook just launched a special program called Season of Support. This program is designed to help small businesses use Facebook in the most advantageous way to engage customers and drive sales. They’re offering free personalized marketing plans for businesses, tips on boosting posts, free video training (each video is less than 10 minutes, so no time excuses), promotional assistance, and a special tool kit to help drive holiday sales.
- Google’s Holiday Hub. Google also has some tools and tips for improving holiday sales Such as Grow My Store and a Local Opportunity Finder.
Revamp Your Website Content and Social Media Postings
As an extension of your DIY marketing education, there are a few tweaks you should make now for a better holiday sales season later. Here are some specific areas where you can do that:
Revamp Your About Page
If your About Page highlights only when you started your business and how you look forward to serving your customers, it's time to rewrite. Think of this page as a dating profile for your business (minus the awful bathroom mirror picture).
You want to include things that people will identify with but could still make you stand out of the crowd. For instance, telling your audience that you provide the “best customer service” isn't a unique claim. If you go to your competitor’s site, they will likely claim the same thing. Instead, include what makes you special and what you're passionate about. Speak to how you help and why you’re driven to do so. Show smiling faces of delighted customers or clients.
Tell Your Story
Most business stories will be on the About Page and that's likely where it belongs. But your story shouldn't begin and end there.
Your business story should be behind every post and every piece of content you create. That doesn't mean you talk about yourself all the time. Your business story must flavor your marketing. For instance, if your story is one of helping your customers do more, then your posts should focus on that. You should highlight the amazing things your customers are achieving and post about noncustomers and ideas that are in line with your worldview and business mission.
Open an Online Store
If you sell products, this is incredibly important. These days there are many easy ways that you can sell products online. Places like Etsy, shopping cart plugins for WordPress, local marketplaces, Amazon, and many more.
Whether you want to admit it or not, there is a large consumer group out there that doesn't enjoy walking around stores. They simply want to pull out their phones, laptops, or other devices and order from the comfort of their couch.
Amazon isn't the giant that it is because it offers a great shopping experience. It’s not as fun as exploring the sights and smells of brick and mortar. But Amazon is a retail giant because it offers convenience and peace of mind that the buyer’s item can get to them quicker than they can find a parking space during the Christmas season. If you don't want to open an online store, you can still showcase your items online including prices and conduct sales through messaging, email, and phone calls.
But what you absolutely must do this holiday season is allow people to see your offerings online and make it as easy as possible to buy from you.
Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so. Christina hates exclamation points and loves road trips. Say hi on Twitter or reach out on Facebook.