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15 Tips to Help Your Small Business Succeed this Holiday and Winter Season

AUTHOR: Sogol Sabbar

When you’re a business owner the holidays could mean many different things. It could mean an exciting time of year, the busiest time of year, a stressful time of year, a slow time of the year and everything else in between. Whatever it may be for you, we’ve put together some tips on how to make the holidays and the winter season work for you.

Create unique holiday promotions and give out special coupons.
Whether this is a busy or slow time for your business, getting people to visit your physical location or website has become a great challenge. With so much competition from holiday pop up stores and locations, to the internet, how do you break through the clutter? Everyone these days creates special promotions and gives out coupons to everyone in their database in hopes of increasing traffic to their stores or websites. This year, try something different, maybe split up your database by either gender, interest, buying habits or anything else that fits within your business and create targeted promotions or coupons.
Some retailers are advertising a discount on items if purchased at their brick-and-mortar locations versus on their website. If you’re in the construction industry you could benefit from people who might be looking to make improvements to their homes in preparation for holiday parties. Reach out with a promotion and see if that will bring in more clients.

Another unique promotional idea could be to give out free samples. Who doesn’t like free stuff, right? When you give out something for free even if it’s something small it not only helps with your foot traffic but creates potential customers. Plus, if they don’t buy today they are still going home with something from your company to remind them that they could go back.

Speaking of free, you could also offer complimentary gift wrapping if you’re in the retail industry. Many shoppers will remember you for it and thank you for saving them time and money on gift wrapping. Just another way for them to remember you by.

Prepare your staff and get their input.
If it’s a busy time of year, meet with your staff and prepare them for everything they need to know. This could mean having a retraining session, reiterating some key points, going over your policies and answering any questions they may have. Then ask them for their opinions on what they think of what they’ve just heard, and if they have any concerns or suggestions, especially your more seasoned employees. Asking your employees for their input includes them in the process and may motivate them to do even more for you. To keep the motivation up you could also create sales goals where they could win something or get a boost in their next paycheck. Making sure your staff is happy, well equipped and prepared for the busy days ahead, is essential to your small business. Afterall they’re the face of your business, they are the ones making the day-to-day sales and interacting with your customers.

Even if it’s a slow time for your business, you should prepare your staff and make sure they understand that you still expect them to show up and do their best to make sales. It’s also a good time to get a head start on preparing for your busy season.

Hire additional staff and extend your hours.
If you feel like you could benefit from extending your hours, hire seasonal employees. A great way to find them fast is to reach out to your best previous employees or post ads to high school or college newsletters. The second most popular time students seek employment is during the holidays (summer is number one of course), because they know they can take advantage of a student and work-life balance. Plus some may need to make extra money for the extra expenses they may have during this time of year.

Cross-promote with other businesses.
This is a great strategy as it helps your business’ word-of-mouth marketing. Get with your local businesses and exchange coupons or create special promotions together that will benefit both of you.

Partner with a local charity.
Donating to charity is a win-win for all. The holidays are a time for giving, and showing customers that you have sympathy towards important causes is a great way to bring attention to your small business. People will appreciate you for it and will be more likely to buy from you. According to the Barkley American Millennials Report, 43% of millennials find it easier to contribute to the causes they care about through a business’ program than giving to the non-profit charity directly. And according to the MSL Group The Future of Business Citizenship Report, 69% of millennials worldwide want businesses to facilitate their involvement in addressing social challenges. Start creating relationships with charities and take advantage of the new generation’s mindset. It will help your sales, plus can be used as a tax write off, so you really can’t lose.

Some ideas could include making an announcement that you’ve made a generous donation on behalf of your company, or choose a product and tell customers that a percentage of all proceeds of this item will go to the charity.

Change product names.
A great way of giving your products a fresh look and feel is to give it a unique name that resonates with people. During the holidays people tend to gravitate towards holiday-themed items, so change the name of one or two of your items or services to something that fits within the holiday theme.

Change your ambiance to something more festive.
Show your customers you’re in the holiday spirit and are prepared for this time of year, by creating a joyful atmosphere. Put up decorations, use holiday displays, and play holiday music. This will invite more customers and help with employee motivation, plus could be a fun hour for you and your workers.

Your online ambiance is important too.
Just as you would decorate your store, salon, restaurant or office, don’t forget about your website. Create some fun images and put them on your landing pages. Showing the online world that your business is ready for the holidays will keep your visitors more engaged and persuade them to buy from you instead of the next website that pops into their Google search results.

Feature your items or services on blog sites.
Bloggers are always researching and looking for ideas. Contact bloggers who create gift guides and have them feature what you offer. Instead of waiting for them to find you, save them time by putting your company front and center.

Do some simple marketing.
Create festive email campaigns, gather email addresses from new customers, and post on your social media outlets. If you have Instagram create a holiday hashtag and encourage everyone to use it. Have a photo contest on Facebook or have a secret sale only for your followers. Play with ideas that revolve around the specific holidays or just the winter season. For some businesses, the actual winter season is what brings in the business during this time, so take advantage.

Offer gift cards for your business.
This is just another item for you to offer to increase sales. When purchasing gift cards for someone you can’t go wrong. Sometimes it’s hard to think about what to buy, for instance for co-workers. People want to give a nice gift but also don’t want to accidentally insult someone. Providing gift cards will ease their concern and make more sales for you.

Stay organized.
By the end of the year, some parts of your small business may have gotten a bit unorganized. Before things get busy, try to get organized again. For instance, do an inventory check, make sure your stock room or back office is clear of any clutter, and make sure all paperwork is up to date. This will keep your employees in order and save you time. And if this is a slow season for you, take this time to get organized for when things start to pick up again.

Extra funds can help you reach goals and keep your doors open.
If you think you could benefit from having extra funds to purchase inventory, hire additional staff or take advantage of an opportunity during the holidays and winter season, or just manage cash flow to get you through your slow months, apply for a business loan from a trusted direct lender.Applying for a business loan has become simple and fast. You could apply for a small business loan today and have funds in your account within one business day.

Whatever your business needs this season, we hope that you find these tips useful and wish your business the best this winter.

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