For Small Town Businesses a Successful Holiday Season Takes Planning

by Joanne Steele on October 26, 2010

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Small town businesses are facing the Holiday Season this year with a certain amount of fear and trepidation. With everyone pinching pennies like mad, how can small towns compete with big box stores when it comes to Holiday shopping.

I started you thinking about this Christmas over a year ago:  376 Day ‘Til Christmas 2010! It’s Not Too Early to Think About Your Marketing. Find that list you made last year to remind yourself of how you wanted to approach the Holidays this year.

Then, beyond the details of decorations, events and activities, let’s think about what people living and visiting small towns want this year:

1. Value.

The assumption is that the cost of items in small locally owned stores will be higher, and often they are. But now always! And, when your customers add the cost of the trip to a box store in a larger town, your prices start looking pretty good.

ARE YOU STRESSING THIS IN YOUR LOCAL MARKETING?

2. Convenience.

Here’s where local shopping options can shine… with planning.

If your hours aren’t convenient for your customers, they will go elsewhere. Do you have well advertised Holiday hours? Read: Setting Extended Christmas Shopping Hours Now For Small Town Business Success

Have you thought about opening early rather than staying open late? Noise this option around offices and businesses in your community and surrounding towns with a flyer or invitation. Put on the coffee pot and have some pastries for an early morning pre-work shopping experience.

3. Selection.

Do you have what your customers are looking for? Are you willing to get what they want if you don’t have it in stock?

Are you and your staff prepared to suggest gift possibilities? If you ask your customer, “May I help you?” as they walk in the door, you’ll probably hear the proverbial, “No, thanks. I’m just looking”

If, instead, you engage your customer with a question that can’t be answered by “yes,” or “no,” you’re helpfulness is more likely to result in a sale.

4. Marketing.

Are you using all the social media options available to you? Remember, people are giving love, acceptance, surprise, joy, and all those other good feelings in the form of a concrete gift. Market the feeling!

Facebook – If you have a business page, start using it to feature specific items you sell. You can market anything from a specific item in a retail store to gift certificates to guided adventures. Tell what, for whom and why along with a picture.

Newsletters – Use your email newsletter to help your customers connect people on their lists with the perfect gift from your business. Again, remember to market the feeling! The joy of a family guided trip. The pleasure of a kitchen geegaw for a cook. The joy of receiving a wished for item.

Your website – Hopefully by now you have a website for your business that you can easily update yourself. Add new Holiday shopping content often throughout the season, making sure you’re using the key words that your customers will be using to search for it.

People will shop this year, but they will be much more deliberative about what they buy.  With planning and care, yours can be the place they go to purchase those perfect gifts.

Here’s more:

Small Towns and Businesses! Plan Christmas Activities & Marketing NOW!

Then, check out what Becky McCray has to offer on Small Biz Survival. Be sure to click through to read her suggestions at John Tozzi’s blog.

It’s not too late to implement this one… if you hurry!

Creating a Marketing Plan for Successful Small Town Holiday Celebrations

Flickr photo by gailf548

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