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For small businesses, the holidays are a critical time for shoring up their bottom line. After all, 20% – 40% of yearly sales for small and mid-sized retailers take place within the last two months of the year. As a small business, you likely don’t have a huge marketing budget to drive awareness of (and customers to) your store during this time. The good news is that you don’t need a big budget to go toe-to-toe with the big dogs this holiday season. All you need is a well thought out marketing plan that avoids these common small business holiday marketing mistakes.

 

4 Common Small Business Holiday Marketing Mistakes

1) No Holiday-Centric Social Strategy

This isn’t the time of year to take a stand against social media or let your social media presence turn stale with off-season posts. As a small business, your social strategy should be one of your top holiday marketing priorities.

Holiday-centric posts (and seasonal content in general) tend to elicit stronger engagement levels than evergreen posts during seasonal events. The more people that like and share your holiday content, the greater your brand’s visibility online.

Adobe is predicting that a record $124 billion in online sales for this holiday season. With nearly 70.7% of US Internet users in 2017 using social networks, you want to make sure you’re there to capture those users and secure your footing in that market.

A successful holiday-centric social media strategy includes a mix of content types, such as:

  • Shoppable posts that market hot gift ideas and new products.
  • Discounts and promotional offers.
  • Videos and exciting content pieces that can inject some holiday joy into the lives of your followers.
  • Value content pieces that educate and inspire your social fans.
  • Simple statements of well wishes and holiday-inspired messages.

The key to a strong social media strategy is to mix up your content and its focus. If all you’re doing is yelling at your fans to buy your latest widget, it won’t be long until they go deaf and stop listening to you altogether.

Pro Tip: Encourage your biggest fans to share your amazing holiday content by creating an advocacy marketing program that makes it easy for them to repost your content to their personal social media pages. Advocacy marketing can increase the visibility of your brand without increasing your advertising and sponsored post spending. You can learn more about launching an advocacy marketing program in our guide here.

2) Poor Online Customer Service

As a small business owner, you wear many hats, and often at the same time. You’re the boss, the accounting department, HR, and the customer service department. And for most of the year, this arrangement style works. However, during busy times like the holiday season, you can start to get a bit overwhelmed, and some areas like online customer service may fall off.

The holiday season isn’t the time to let your stellar customer service fall to the wayside. This is the perfect time to cement your customer relationship and increase your retention rate. Studies have shown that increasing customer retention rate by 5% can increase profits upwards of 25% to 95%.

To provide stellar online customer service, try these recommendations:

Stay in Touch with Your Current Customer Base

Stay active with your current customer base through social media, holiday email blasts, and being timely to respond to emails and DMs. Keep an eye on your social channels, 1 in 3 social media users prefer customer service through an individual social channel versus telephone or email.

Remind Customers of Upcoming Deals

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And the busiest, so don’t let your deals and sales slip through their fingers. Keep sale reminders frequent and easy to access.

Stay Professional Throughout Every Interaction

You need to maintain a level of professionalism throughout each interaction (regardless of the tone set by the platform you’re using). Your response style should be reflective of your brand and be professional.

Take Ownership of Your Mistakes

We’re all human. With so much happening during the holidays, even the most “on top of it” small business employee is going to make a mistake. If a customer has a legit complaint about their experience, don’t fight them on it (especially on a public Facebook page). Instead, acknowledge their mistake, take the conversation private, and do what you can to make it right.

3) Ignoring Your Local Market

For some brick-and-mortar businesses, the only market is the local market. But, as more and more hybrid small businesses launch stores that operate both online and on Main Street, it’s important to not let the allure of a worldwide customer base rob your focus.

Use your local location to your sales-driving advantage by advertising within your geographic pull. 98% of people say they are more likely to buy a product or purchase a service after attending an event. 56% of people prefer shopping in-person because it allows them to try the product immediately, feel it, and the value of the product is immediately noted.

Small businesses have a fantastic opportunity to form in-person, tangible connections with their customers. Celebrate your local footprint during the holiday season by offering warm drinks and small snacks in store to add to the holiday feel. Your local market is looking for you just as much as you’re looking for them.

4) Falling off the Radar in January

With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s common for many small business owners to unplug for a few days or a whole month after New Years. Don’t fall into this trap!

Strong customer relationships are forged through repeat purchases and interactions. If you’ve had a sleigh-load of new first-time customers come to your store in December, don’t wait until the next holiday season to interact with them! Get them back to your store in January to turn them into repeat buyers.

How you may ask?

  • Host a mid-January event to showcase any new merchandise picked up at the beginning of the year.
  • Email and post on social media about any sales or promotional opportunities.
  • Send personalized offers and product showcases to customers who purchased in December.

 

Seasons Greetings with SocialToaster

Whether you’re a local toy store or a purveyor of fine wines, SocialToaster can help you take advantage of your online following. Through our award-winning advocacy marketing program, we can help you create a holiday experience to remember. If you want to know more about how SocialToaster can help you up your online game this holiday, send us an email or call us at 855.62.TOAST to schedule your free demo!