Many businesses, especially brick-and-mortar stores, do 25-30% of their business in the final two months of the year, then go through a serious sales slump in January and February. But if you stay focused on your customers’ needs, you can use the holidays to build a loyal customer base that supports you all year-round.
Here are three “Don’ts” to help you increase sales during the holidays–and beyond.
Don’t Just Sell.
Most people get stressed out during the December holidays. Providing a touch of comfort, advice, or entertainment to relieve that stress will endear you to your customers. Create a memorable experience. Nobody wants to be sold to all the time. Alternate your promotional messages with things that help people or make them feel good, such as holiday recipes or volunteer and donation opportunities. For example, if you see a useful social media post, like this one on Holiday Stress Tips, share it with your followers.
- If you have a storefront, café, or event, try to connect with people using all their senses. A fun display–using oversized objects, nostalgic elements, or novelty items—will delight their eyes. The taste and smell of a hot cup of cider or cocoa, a glass of bubbly, or a little nosh will create a haven for the weary. Music that reflects your brand’s personality will help your customers remember you.
- Whether you’re selling in a physical place or online, display your products or services according to how people are likely to look for them or use them. An intelligent display makes the shopping experience easier and provides extra value to your customers. If you don’t have what they need, help them find someone who does. Your goal is not to just to sell, sell, sell, it’s to be seen as a valued and trusted resource over the long term.Hold a raffle or entice customers to join your email list, so you can send thank yous, invite them to events, and entice them back after the holidays.
- When the holiday rush is over, people are focused on New Year’s resolutions, saving money, self-improvement, and keeping warm. Offer products, services, and advice that meet these needs.
- Give customers incentives to use up those gift cards. Offer to top them off with an extra discount or a free gift when shoppers use them.
- Events featuring DIY and self-improvement can be a great draw; if you don’t have enough customers to attract a crowd, partner with other businesses or organizations to make it worthwhile
Don’t treat all your customers alike.
Look through your sales data or talk to your customers and divide them into segments of similar people, such as parents of young children, frequent shoppers, big spenders, or your breakfast regulars. Group your customers by what types of products or services they’ve purchased, common interests or hobbies, and/or location. This personalized approach applies year-round, not just during the holidays.
- Create promotions, events, and types of content that are relevant to people in each group. For example, try messaging one neighborhood at a time, so you can include references and images that are meaningful to that location. Or send everyone who purchased a particular item a follow up message about how to use it.
- Use the 80/20 rule: The top 20% of your customers probably account for 80% of your sales. Treat your most frequent and loyal customers like the VIPs they are. Mail them a greeting card with a personal note. Offer to have them come in before or after hours for personal shopping or hold an exclusive event.
Don’t forget about contests!
Contests and giveaways are a great way to attract new customers and keep current ones engaged.
Choose the social media channels where your customers are most active and a topic that’s likely to appeal to them. You don’t have to focus on your products or services, but whatever you do–and how you do it–should be consistent with your brand.
- Create a special hashtag for people to use when they enter. Make use of additional hashtags, such as #contest and #giveaway, or location hashtags, if you want to attract local participants.
- Practice random gifting, in-person or online. It creates buzz and builds customer loyalty. Even a tiny gift is exciting when it’s unexpected.