The Ultimate Small Business Guide to Holiday Sales

The Ultimate Small Business Guide to Holiday Sales

A friend of mine owns a local business here in Charlotte. My firstborn finally arrived just before my favorite holiday – Thanksgiving – so I was in a great mood! He wasn’t. The cause? The tremendous pressure of making 4th quarter sales got him down. Instead of embracing the opportunity he felt overwhelmed by the competition and asked me what he should be doing. We talked with his website in mind and charted a plan to go forward. Here it is.

Cyber Monday Stats

First off, let’s set the table with some statistics. Cyber Monday is a great indicator for stores that are not on the Black Friday trend. What does the market look like for post Black Friday sales?

  • Wall Street Journal cited IBM research stating Cyber Monday sales grew 33% in 2011 and an additional 30% in 2012.
  • ComScore predicts Cyber Monday will be the heaviest online spending day in history and approach $2 billion in spending with a 20%+ year-over-year growth rate.

If you get a chance, check out this beautiful infographic from Digital Marketing Suite had the following great stats.  Here’s the numbers that caught my eye – and what you need to do about it!

  • 41% of total Thanksgiving weekend shopping was online in 2012 – up from 38% in 2011. Clearly the move to on-line is increasing. Great news for small businesses trying to compete against stores with people camping out for days for blockbuster products!
  • Paid search was also up 29% year over year. Lots of competition in the paid arena – best focus on organic, local search options and let the big chains make the search advertisers rich.
  • But Brick & Mortar store sales were only up 3% last year while on-line sales grew 15% clip. Online is the place to be.
  • 18% of shoppers in 2012 were on mobile devices comprising 13% of all sales. Better make sure your website can be used on phones, tablets, etc!
  • In 2011 25% of shoppers avoided crowds and were purely online. 2012 jumped to 30%. People would rather be indoors shopping at home.

Do What the Big Boys Do

OK, sold. This is a BIG deal. So how to proceed?
Well, they say the sincerest form of flattery is imitation. So let’s flatter the heck out of the big retailers.

Get Your Website Going

Well, first, you need a website. All the big stores (and most of the small ones) have one. If you don’t, do it now. It’s where the fish are and it will Increase your sales 74.3%   In a hurry? Here’s a guide to getting a website set up in 5 mins.

You Need More than Just Social Media

“But I have a Killer Facebook page!” I can hear you moan. Sorry, Social Media alone is a losing strategy. Put on your big boy pants and get your space on the web that you own, that you control.

You Need a Newsletter

Next up, build an electronic newsletter. Write helpful articles and weave in soft pitches in between the education that way. Send deals that way. It doesn’t have to be extra work. Put a form on your website to collect addresses 24X7. You can easily synch a newsletter to you website so that every time you write a new page it automatically gets sent out to your list.  I use Aweber to do this, here’s my Aweber newsletter review.

But Don’t Ignore Social Media

You know your clients and prospects are online. Get your social media campaign up and going. Post images on your walls with links back to your website. Don’t have a ton of followers or likes? Put targeted ads on those platforms leading to a landing page on your website with your Holiday deals.

Remember, be on the look out for negative reviews – not only about your company, but about others. See negative review strategies here.
Holiday sales support

Think Outside the Box

Here’s where you can start to really kick the big store’s collective rears! You’re an intrepid entrepreneur, not a keep-it-safe, bored out of your mind cubicle lackey. You LOVE what you do. You know it better than anyone. With your passion and your front line knowledge of the industry and your clients, there is no way someone who has never had the buck stop with them can be more creative than you. They have to follow rules – you don’t. Time to shine. Here are some ideas:

The Sharing is Caring Raffle

Hold a contest where tweets, shares, likes of your special offer page count as entries in a giveaway. Whichever person shares the most wins something you’re raffling off – preferably something you sell or produce and can do for cost. Win for them, win for you as buzz about your company spreads.

Join Forces

Create a partnership with another local, but complementary company and merge lists. For example, if you are a personal trainer, try seeking out a chiropractor. You don’t compete against each other but serve similar groups. There is a strong chance that clients of one would be prospects of another. Do join deals. Make combined sales & promotions. Work together and win!

The 12 Days of Christmas

Kick off a ‘12 Days of Christmas sale’ or similar with a  new deal everyday – of course emailed out to those on your email list first. Find a way to make an irresistible offer that is good for you AND great for your clients.

Diversify Your Income

But what if this is your slow season? For example, what are landscapers supposed to do when there is snow on the ground? Sell gift cards?

No. Not exactly.

This is something no corporate board would allow. Review Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals as a post on your website with items in your niche. Make related gift guides. The landscaper in my example could review ‘toys’ that would make Tim “the tool man” Taylor green with envy. You see this all the time in magazines. Put affiliate links with those reviews and earn a good secondary income.

Always Good, but Essential During the Christmas Shopping Season

Get on Maps

Update your local Google, Yahoo, & Bing entries so you show up in map results. With people traveling across the country during the holiday season, being available in map searches. SEOBook offers comprehensive training on the latest techniques.

Mobile Web- All of the Devices

Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. People are on the go and may not know what they are looking for until they are in the moment, on the sidewalk looking at their phone.

Don’t Crash

Ensure your Web Hosting Provider is up-to-snuff. You don’t want downtime. Unsure if your host is solid? Try DreamHost.

Be Trustworthy

Display your trust symbols, like PayPal, Chamber of Commerce, or BBB images prominently on your website. Put photos – recent photos – of you and your staff on the website. Put personal touches in. Get a photo of your dog with antlers on. These things go a long way to establishing your credibility and humanity.

Use YOUR own Images

Remember to use original or licensed images in your advertising. Don’t go downloading and reusing other people’s images. That’s stealing. We want no lawsuits over Christmas! Here’s my list of places to get great, free photos.

Don’t Forget to Check this List Twice!

While the 4th Quarter is an important time to balance the books and ‘get in the black’, don’t get so focused on making sales that you lose out on future prospects. Be sure to find a way to capture visitor data so you can market to them in the future. You want the great publicity you are working so hard to generate to bear fruit all year long, not just during the holiday shopping season.


And last, but certainly not least; be sure to thank your clients. Remember, without them there is no business! So thank you for reading and supporting Charlotte Web Development through out the years!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve December 15, 2013 at 6:29 am

Thinking outside a box is not easy, though working hard and being creative is the best way to grab some new sales.

Holiday sales are vital and very affective if they are well planed and the campaign is properly targeted.


Charlotte Web Development December 15, 2013 at 10:06 am

Absolutely, Steve. Thanks for the comment.


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