Is Your Small Business Ready for the Holiday Season?
BY: BRENT BARNHART ON MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2012
Both business owners and consumers alike are well aware that the holidays are here. Whether it's because of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday, or the fact that Christmas music is already playing in every other shop, the holidays are here in a big way. Both small businesses and big box companies alike are preparing for the largest shopping weekend of the year, where consumers spent over $50 billion last year.
For small businesses, however, there's much more to prepare for than simply Black Friday weekend. The holiday season as a whole is traditionally not particularly kind to small businesses. Why?
Small Businesses and the Holiday Season
Consumers are certainly not afraid to spend during the holiday season, especially during Black Friday. With this in mind, however, shoppers are still looking for the best deals and the shops that will entice them to buy. Furthermore, small businesses may not be able to compete with big box stores or carry the brand-name products that are so popular during the holiday season. With such factors working against SMBs, most companies take a hit during the holiday season despite a consumer-base that's hungry to spend.
In short, the holiday season forces small business to adapt. While holiday shoppers certainly have cash to spend, how they spend is the name of the game. Small businesses must do what they can to appeal to these buyers. The question remains; how do small business adapt to such customers in today's economic climate?
How Can Small Businesses Survive the Holidays?
First, ask yourself this; are customers getting a sense of holiday cheer when they step into your shop or check out your company's website? This doesn't require a repetitive Christmas soundtrack or decorations; however, it does require an emphasis on customer service and going the extra mile. When it comes to repeat business, especially for small businesses, a little bit of customer service goes along way. While you should be paying the utmost attention to your customers regardless of the time of year, the holidays represent a great opportunity for you and your staff to really try to go the extra mile.
Another way small businesses may go the extra mile for its customers during the holiday season is by embracing a bit of gift-giving. While you don't have to offer your customers a new iPad with each purchase, a promotional item such as a bumper sticker or perhaps a coupon or discount on a future purchase would most certainly suffice. Such little steps may not seem like much in the short term; however, such little steps are what helps keep customers coming through your doors in the long-run. If nothing else, customers will have something extra to remember you by, which certainly doesn't hurt.
Of course, every shopper loves a decent holiday deal. Most SMBs can't afford to slash prices during the holiday season. Therefore, buy-one-get-one deals and store credit may be your best bet when it comes to offering your holiday customers something special for the season.
Taking part in such promotions establishes your company as part of the community, going out of your way to do something extra for the locals that help drive your business. If you don't have a brick and mortar business, don't fret. Many of the aforementioned rules and tips apply to web-based businesses as well. Don't be afraid to get creative when it comes to marketing during the holiday season.
Small Business Saturday
Of course, your business could also take part in Small Business Saturday. An estimated 46% of SMBs are expected to use Small Business Saturday as part of their holiday sales strategy this year. Are you part of that number? Thanksgiving weekend is a time when people are willing to spend; there's no reason why your business can't take advantage of such spending. Small Business Saturday also represents a prime opportunity to both advertise and gain greater exposure for your business in your community. Advertising through Social Media for SBS and during the holiday season will pay dividends; now's the time to go the extra mile and really push your business.
What About Black Friday?
Black Friday certainly means spending on behalf of many, many consumers; however, most of that spending takes place at big box stores. The local movement is growing, however, so SMBs should not get discouraged. Small businesses will attract many local buyers, meanwhile Black Friday shoppers will also spend at small companies over the weekend, hopefully during Small Business Saturday.
If you feel so inclined, you may also take advantage of Black Friday yourself if you're looking for a deal on equipment for your business or office. The deals are most certainly out there. More likely than not, however, you're probably focused on your own business' efforts and won't be able to make it out to the deals.
The Bottom Line
The holidays are a season for giving and spending. Be a part of the action and adjust your business' plans accordingly. Establish yourself as part of your community and gain exposure for your business. You can't always win the battle against huge retailers, but being a local, small business in and of itself provides your company a unique advantage within your community.
Small businesses may have to put in some extra time over the course of the holidays to make sure the ship stays up and running. With persistence and a bit of creativity, the dedicated business owner can make it work. Do not sit back this holiday season; put in the hours and make your small business stand out among the pack.
And of course, while there's plenty for SMBs to worry about these days, don't forget to enjoy your holiday.