There are so many ways to boost profits during the holidays—from holiday-themed gifts and stocking stuffers to seasonal décor and in-store events—that narrowing your techniques can be the biggest challenge.
For that last-minute holiday edge, consider these methods that have helped other small business owners:
1. Social Media
Estelle Puleston, owner of Bristol, UK-based Esty Lingerie, says she steps up her social media interaction this time of year to keep her brand top of mind. She offers three tips to doing the same:
- Offer "flash sales" on Facebook to clear out old stock and make some quick cash.
- Run Facebook or Twitter competitions for which the entrants must find information hidden on your website—placed near a great deal—to drive traffic to your site.
- Given the extra attention due to the above promotions, share more photos with prices and links to your website.
2. Daily Deal Sites
USA Today small business columnist Rhonda Abrams, who owns The Planning Shop in Redwood City, Calif., says small businesses can leverage daily deal sites like Groupon and discount sites like Restaurant.com to bring in new customers during the holidays. But you must use them wisely to come out ahead.
In her online Small Business Holiday Success Guide (PDF), Abrams outlines such tactics as providing holiday gift bundles and offering deals in December that aren’t redeemable until January. By doing so you can “get visibility now and customers when times are slower,” she says.
3. Gift Cards
Eight in 10 holiday shoppers planned to buy gift cards in 2011, according to the National Retail Federation—and cards tend be the gift that gives back to businesses. According to Abrams’ guide, 61% of people who receive gift cards spend more than the value of the card, boosting post-holiday sales, while other recipients never end up redeeming them.
4. Pop-up Stores
Twosided, a gift shop in Chicago, took out a short-term lease during the holiday season to occupy an empty space next door. Owner Todd Mack says this enabled his business to expand its holiday offerings and increase store traffic—leading to double-digit increases in sales over last year.
If you’re eyeing a space for next year, scout locations where there is plenty of foot traffic and use your chamber of commerce to promote the pop-up. Then, heavily market the location.
“We papered up the windows one month early,” Mack says. Facebook posts, tweets, eblasts and mentions of the pop-up location on their chamber of commerce website all helped bring in customers.
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