With Christmas Day right around the corner, everyone, equipped with ready cash and credit card, seems to be in a feverish hunt for the perfect gifts for oneself and for others. What can business owners do to make hay while the sun shines?
The best bet would be to give gifts, like chocolates, bottles of wine and other festive fare. “Gifts are a time-honored way to show clients that you value them, in turn inspiring loyalty to you,” says Startups.co.uk, an independent online resource for starting business in the U.K.
Startups suggests sending small gifts with the company’s branding as an alternative. Just make sure that they are practical. “A branded lanyard may come across as pointless if your business doesn’t serve those who have a particular use for them,” the site says.
Giving prospective customers free samples may convince them to finally make a purchase, while providing the loyal ones with samples of a new product can help drum up interest. Send some to the influencers and journalists, too. Startups said doing so may persuade them to give one’s product a go. They may even write about or promote it on their social media accounts.
A simple greeting card is another potent instrument for expressing one’s appreciation of a customer’s loyalty. Put some effort into choosing one, though. “Personalized, [specially designed] cards (think cheesy team photos) are particularly memorable, and a great way to re-affirm any relationships you have built with clients while working with them or selling to them,” Startups says.
Try offering mouth-watering deals and/or discounting some products. “Seasonal deals and discounts can go a long way in driving awareness of your business,” the site says. “Consider buy-one-get-one-free deals or a 20% discount on spends over a certain amount throughout December. You could also offer incentives such as free gift wrapping or an extra, small service thrown in with each large purchase.”
Let the customers know about the deals and discounts by promoting them on the company’s Web site and, most especially, social media accounts. “You have to be very clear on the start and end date of your special promotion, as well as the price they are paying, the amount they’re saving, and how limited the time is to take advantage of all these things,” GearLaunch, an e-commerce software provider, says.
It continues: “There’s no time to waste at this point, so they either want it or they don’t; move along if their answer is no. Let them know it’s for them and them alone, and that it’s going away as soon as they scroll past it.”
To boost social media presence, consider running giveaway competitions. “Simply offer up one of your products or services (or a collection of them), and ask that users follow you, like the post and tag their friends to enter to win,” Startups says.
Using hashtag helps increase the giveaway promo’s visibility. But be inventive. The site cites the #MakeItThoughtful hashtag of John Lewis, a high-end department store, which encouraged users be more thoughtful in giving gifts, and #TedsElfie of Ted Baker, a luxury clothing retail company, which corresponded to a game on Instagram in which users had to search for missing elves across profiles.
Business owners will also do well to share the contents their customers generate. “The more you interact with your customers, the more they will feel like they’re of value to your business. Users may well share images and posts about your products or services across social media — try finding the best ones and sharing them on your own channels, reacting to them as you go and perhaps adding your own hashtag,” Startups says.
This may be more difficult to pull off, but it is nevertheless worthwhile to try: offer expedited shipping. “Shipping is a huge concern for buyers at this time of year. Everyone is freaking out about getting their gifts on time for Christmas and being able to finish up their shopping list as quickly as possible. Here’s your chance to ease their stress and still profit,” GearLaunch says. “If you can guarantee customers that they will receive your product in time to wrap it and throw it under the tree, you have already solved a huge problem and established dominance in your niche.”
Of course, don’t forget to stock up on the best-sellers and the products that would make for great gifts. And to keep on top of fulfilling orders, Startups suggests giving customers the option to pre-order.
The site also recommends taking temp into service. “If you know that this season is going to be a busy one for you, you might consider hiring an extra pair of hands to help you out temporarily. Get in touch with a temping agency if you’re not sure where to start — just be sure that you can comfortably pay the extra wages,” it says.