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The holidays go one of two ways for small business owners. Depending on your industry, it’s likely either the busiest or the slowest, time of the year. Regardless of whether you’re enjoying the boom of the holiday season or you’ve got your feet up and are counting down the days until vacation, some simple things go a long way in showing your customers your appreciation (and hopefully, setting yourself up for some referrals next year!). So before you take that much-needed break to recharge with your family, check out these 5 tips for making the most of the Year End Holiday season.

 

1.      Show your Gratitude with something they can hold

A personalized note of gratitude goes a long way. If your company does direct mailings, a “Seasons Greetings” postcard can help your company stand out from the endless sea of advertisements consumers face during the holidays. This can be particularly impactful if your company is not in a position to offer a significant discount that grabs attention. The great thing about holiday cards is they can be as general or specific in the messaging as you, and your customers, prefer. If your company has the budget, a personalized gift bag or gift basket can be an even more powerful way of connecting with your clients and prospects. Whether you send them by mail or deliver them by hand, showing your gratitude is a simple step that gets remembered.

Additionally, don’t forget the New Year when crafting your direct mail campaign. Business.com reports, “Most people take a vacation through the New Year and count on post-holiday sales to purchase home goods, late holiday gifts and New Year essentials.” One sure-fire way to stand out from the crowd: handwritten thank you cards.

Looking for some last minute holiday tips? Check out Neil Patel’s recent video:

2.      Connect through Digital Marketing

The first place to start is by creating a few simple videos in the same theme as the Holiday Direct Mail described above. If you’re not using video to promote your business, you’re missing out on the channel with the single highest engagement and conversion rates. Producing engaging videos doesn’t require hours in front of a camera or attempting to get passable results from editing software. Platforms like Biteable now make it very easy to create a video by choosing from pre-shot and pre-edited high-quality footage.

The holiday season is not the time to take a social media vacation, as most consumers have more free time, meaning more time spent on the social platforms. You’ll need to be actively preparing your audience for the next holiday, priming them to buy with education and promotional offers. If you have an engaged social community, encourage your followers to share your media with their digital networks through gifts and giveaways.

If you’re going to send an e-card, Paperless Post is an excellent choice for free cards, and you can select from a range of different holiday themes. These can be used to complement or replace your traditional email marketing. Email marketing is still one of the most effective channels for driving sales. As Entrpreneur.com writes, “An inbox can feel more personal than a public post so write up a good story related to your business and thank your customers for being a part of it. And don’t forget to include a call to action.”

Crucially, do not forget to update your website with relevant information such as shipping cut off dates. Hesitation over whether a product will arrive will cause lost sales, while many orders placed after the cut-off date will come back to you as a return. Do your customers, and yourself, a favor by making the information impossible to miss. Being clear and transparent regarding shipping costs is equally as important. Forbes writes, “In nearly every survey, the #1 complaint by online shoppers is shipping costs.” Managing your customer’s expectations regarding shipping is vital to creating a great customer experience. Ultimately, your customers should feel that they’re making the most of a time-limited opportunity, even if there’s another one just around the corner.

Check out this quick video on making videos through Biteable:

3.      Create a Plan to stay-in-touch

Whether you’re not doing anything different than the rest of the year or you’re going all out on your holiday offers and discounts, make sure you have a strategy in place to stay in contact with the new prospects you’re meeting to improve your results next year. The simplest way to do this is through an email list. For brick-and-mortar store owners, Constant Contact notes: “Be sure to ask new customers to join your email list while they’re in your store during the holiday season. Something as simple as a paper sign-up sheet can go a long way in getting people to stay connected.” Whether it’s in-stores or online, make it easy for people to provide their email wherever they’re at.

 

4.      Say thank you to your employees

Tis the season after all! No one will notice if you don’t, but a generous gesture like hosting a company Christmas party can boost employee engagement and morale in the next year. It doesn’t even need to be that complex; It could be as simple as taking them out to grab a mid-morning cup of coffee. Spending time with employees strengthens your relationship, which results in a strong support system. People with stable relationships around them are generally happier and more content. Employees who feel appreciated by their company are more likely to give your customers the experience you would want and expect. While a seemingly small gesture, showing your genuine appreciation, particularly during the holidays, can have an enormous impact on your company’s results next year. Additionally, if someone referred a candidate for employment to you, you could thank the person who made the referral along with the employee who came on board.

 

5.      Manage your Business Hours Listing

And don’t forget to update your store hours on Google and Bing! Even if you aren’t making any changes to your hours during the holidays, Google will list your hours as “unverified” during the holidays unless you log in to Google My Business and confirm when you’ll be open. This can cause a significant amount of confusion for many consumers who rely on Google primarily for their information. Because Google accounts for 90% of total searches, updating your Google My Business is essential, while Bing should be considered a nice bonus once you have your google listing in order.

Here’s a video from Google Small Business on updating your information:

Wrapping it Up

No matter how busy you and your team may be during the holidays, this is your company’s time to shine and to provide excellent customer service. The holidays are one of the best times to pay attention to the overall experience your customers are having. The store can set themselves apart with helpful, thoughtful small acts, such as remembering names of frequent shoppers, offering a free gift-wrapping and shipping, and providing complimentary sample products or gifts with purchases.

The holiday season is inclusive, no matter which one you are celebrating. Incorporating a little bit of holiday cheer into, or just displaying your gratitude through, your marketing activities during these months will make your company more relatable and memorable to your customers. Take the time and complete the additional work to make sure that you and your team aren’t missing the best opportunity to connect genuinely with customers.

Don’t forget that holidays are a time when most people are relaxed and preparing for vacation. While you’ll have to be the judge of what makes sense for your business, the holidays provide an opportunity for you to joke around with your customers, be yourself, and build a real relationship that will lead to success straight through to next year’s holiday season. This is also a critical time to take some time for yourself to spend time with family and step out of your regular day to day pace. Reflecting on your progress this year and recharging your batteries reduces stress, leading to an enhanced sense of clarity and decisiveness in your decision-making for the New Year.

 

making the most of the holiday season with cloud friday

Looking for a day-by-day playbook for the Holidays? Check out AllBusiness.com’s 12 Days of Christmas Retail article.