Holiday Season Home Stretch: 5 Ways Small Businesses Can Optimize Last-Minute Sales

By Steven Cohen

In these last weeks and days before the holiday gift-giving season ends, it’s imperative that small businesses capitalize on last-minute ways to boost sales, brand loyalty and business development. Doing so now ensures a strong end to this year and sets your business up for a more successful kickoff in 2019.

It’s not too late. Try these easy-to-implement small business holiday strategies today and see a boost in your business’s bottom-line by the end of the quarter.

1. Re-Engage Existing Customers

It’s much easier to earn sales from past customers; at least once before, they chose to do business with you over your competitors. Show them that loyalty matters and offer something that lets them know that their business is appreciated:

  • Send your existing customers a “thank you” email for their business in 2018 and let them know about new products, services, team members, locations or anything else of interest.
  • Mention current and predicted industry trends and how your business will meet them in 2019.
  • If you haven’t already, ask your clients for feedback about your services and products, as well as any ideas they have for future offerings.
  • And, of course, include information on any specials that you’re offering for the holiday season and any incentives for repeat customers.

2. Start a Customer Loyalty Program

Now is the perfect time to introduce a customer loyalty program that kicks off during the holiday season and shows your customers that you care. Consider these rewards programs:

  • Tailored discounts for loyal customers whose purchases have historically been among your highest (in revenue or volume) or who sign on now for high purchase volume for next year.
  • Special discounts or sample giveaways for holiday or seasonal services and products, packaged as holiday gifts.
  • Targeted discounts when purchase milestones are reached.
  • Special package discounts with other local merchants or related industries. For example, if you have a brick-and-mortar retail shop, consider package discounts with others on your block. If your business is online, contact a complementary business to partner with and you can both benefit from each other’s customer bases.

Keep in mind that whatever you offer should be enticing, but it shouldn’t overextend your business.

3. Remind Customers of Your Value

Tell an appealing story to highlight your brand and value proposition, including those things that differentiate your business.

Is your business celebrating a milestone around this time of year, like a first or fifth anniversary? If so, talk about reaching that and how your customers helped you achieve it. Do you offer handmade products or special services? Has your business won any awards or received recognition for charitable or volunteer contributions or service?

If you have great client testimonials, use them. Also, now’s the perfect time to shine a light on your employees’ contributions to your business, industry and community. By telling their stories, you’re also telling them about what makes your business a great employer.

4. Enhance Your Website

While more and more shoppers use their smartphones to browse for items, most still turn to websites to make purchases. Websites are still the go-to online resource for competitive research too, so be sure to update yours often throughout the season:

  • If you have new items or services, highlight them on your home page.
  • Boost your search optimization by including strong keywords that highlight leading products, services, trends, sales and more.
  • Be sure that information about how to buy what you offer is easy to use and that store hours and contact information are always easy to find. In addition, if you’re selling tangible items, ensure that return policies and information are also easy to find.

And always be sure that your website works on desktops, laptops and, of course, smartphones.

Don’t forget, too, that you’ll need to capture information like email addresses or mailing addresses and stay in touch. When those last few days of December come around, you should already be planning your first outreach campaign of 2019. It’s a great time to follow up with customers and find out what you did that they loved and what could be done better.

5. Leverage Social Media to Increase Visibility

While your website is essential for completing sales, social media is best for getting out quick bits of news, like flash sales and promotions. 

Did you just receive more inventory of a hot holiday item? Blast it out across social media platforms and email. Conversely, if you’re about to run out, let people know that, too – you’ll drive sales for those last items and you’ll have a great opportunity to suggest others. Do the same with news about events, specials and more. Is your business sponsoring a holiday charitable event or participating in a local small business event? Let the world know.

When you use your social media channels for announcements, always ensure that it’s easy for people to make the leap from reading your posts and tweets to purchasing on your website, in your store or at your location.

It’s never too late or too soon to build business.

The holiday season only rolls around once a year, so take advantage of every opportunity to build business. Every customer you reconnect with this season, as well as each new client you gain, means that you’re not only ending 2018 on a stronger note, but you’re also positioning your business for growth in 2019.

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Steven Cohen
Steven Cohen is president of Excelsior Growth Fund (EGF), which helps New York State small businesses grow by providing streamlined access to business loans and advisory services. Steven has a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and a master’s in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School.

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