Many small and mid-size businesses, particularly retailers, are tapping into customer histories and using social media reports to discover buying trends when planning their holiday marketing strategy. Although the term “big data” might seem daunting, there is plenty that small businesses can do with their data to increase productivity and sales! Even if your company has only been in business for a few years, tapping into the data history of repeat customers can be a valuable and useful asset.
Analyzing your company’s data can tell you which marketing strategies have been the most effective, which products or services your customers are most interested in, and can help you estimate what kind of inventory to stock.
Here are a few tips for how to use your “small” business data this holiday season:
- Email Reporting: If you are sending out email blasts, use the reports to see what topics/subject lines got the most opens, as well as when the emails were sent – the time of day and day of the week the email is sent does matter! As you notice trends, your email data will help you know what to send and when.
Black Friday is just around the corner! With a growing emphasis on supporting local businesses and “Small Business Saturday,” modest-sized shops, stores, and restaurants not only need to be prepared for increased sales on November 27, but they need to get the word out to their community about holiday sales! Here are some helpful marketing and management tips for small retailers to make the most of Black Friday:
- GIVEAWAYS: Choose some of your best products to include in a customer giveaway or contest on your social media channels. You can achieve this by requiring social media users to share your Black Friday post in order to enter the contest. This will drive people to your website or brick-and-mortar store to check out other items or sales – or to buy more of the giveaway products as gifts for others!
- SOCIAL MEDIA: Most small businesses do not have a large advertising budget, so take advantage of the age of social media to promote your Black Friday sales. By offering giveaways and contents through social media (see bullet above!), you can build up a large following online, where you can then push promotions, sales, and special offerings to increase revenue this holiday season.
- STAFFING: Even if you run your business throughout the year with only a minimal staff, make sure to bring in extra help on Black Friday and for the entire holiday season. First impressions are everything, and having a customer wait for an extended time to check out or for help can leave a lasting negative impact.
Guerrilla Marketing: noun; innovative, unconventional, and low-cost marketing techniques aimed at obtaining maximum exposure for a product.
By its very definition, guerrilla marketing techniques lend themselves well to creative and motivated small business owners. If you want your products to be the talk of the town, then you need to give the people something to talk about. Read on for some great guerrilla marketing tips for small retailers that you can customize to use for your own store.
- Treasure Hunt: Creating customized, adventure-driven treasure hunts is another cool guerrilla marketing tactic that can energize customers. These treasure hunts should utilize social media to post online clues to hidden items scattered across the local area. You could either have people look for specific items using a single clue, or make it leveled, where one discovery includes a clue that will lead to the next. Offering hunts with both small and big prizes will drive up the public interest, because there will be lots of winners – And it will also increase social media followers. At the end, rather than dispensing prizes as-is, offer them in your store’s customized gift boxes or bags.
- Art/Graffiti: Is your store located in a city or medium-sized town? You might want to try some graffiti/art work to draw in customers. First and foremost, you’ll need permission from the property owner, but painting over a previously barren city space is sure to draw the eye of anyone who passes by. What you paint is entirely up to you. You could have an artist paint an idyllic mural, or even a life-size false storefront. Or go a simpler route and use stencils to spray on your company logo or images of your newest products. There’s also another, more subtle graffiti method known as ‘reverse stenciling’, in which a stencil is placed over a grimy wall or sidewalk, and then cleaner is applied to the open spaces instead of paint. What remains is a clean patch in the shape of your logo or company name.
- A simpler, more temporary alternative is sidewalk chalk. This could go anywhere, not necessarily just in front of your store. A weekly design or work of art will have folks coming back to your store to see the latest design! When the sidewalks are suddenly more colorful, people will take notice, and the talk will lead right back to your business.
Retail sales are expected to hit record highs this holiday season. Since a large number of these sales will take place online, it is important for retailers to be prepared for any issues that might arise this holiday season. Read on to learn three tips for small retailers that are simple to implement and sure to keep you on your technology “A” game.
1. Beware of the dreaded downtime. Everyone knows that humans are not perfect, and neither is the technology that we create. Therefore, anticipate and prepare for downtime, because even high-tech companies like Google experience it once in a while.
- If your company has its technology onsite, start pressure testing the system now. Do your servers have the resources to deal with spikes of website traffic and sales at a given time?
- Most small to medium-sized retailers have outsourced technology. If it’s not too late, discuss an SLA (service level agreement) to see if the company can offer you the least amount of downtime possible. Try to adjust the contract, even if temporarily, or hire a new company if it’s time to renew the contract anyways.