October 12, 2017 by Lynsi Pasutti
Just as the seasons change outside, from the first bits of color here and there and a slightly cooler breeze, to a full-on wave of fallen leaves blowing around and warning us to bundle up, so too does the rush of busyness intensify in a business, as fall brings on a whole new rush leading into the holiday season. Fall is a busy time of year for most small businesses, and it only gets increasingly busier until the end of the year. Don’t let yourself get caught up like the fallen leaves that swirl around with the breeze. Take steps now to prepare yourself for the busy holiday season. Here are just a few suggestions to get you feeling more ready for the full-on fall season that leads right into the fast-approaching peak holiday shopping season.
1. Decide on key dates and promotions now. You know how quickly time flies, so don’t wait until you’re too busy to plan ahead. Take some time to look at the calendar now and figure out what special products, services, or promotions you want to push for the holidays, and when it makes sense for your business to do so. Maybe it’s during a nationally recognized shopping holiday, but maybe it’s not – you know what’s best for your business. The key here is to make the decision now so you have time to prepare.
2. Schedule social media posts, emails, and advertising ahead of time. Having a plan in place is a good start, but following through is what will make a difference. Start crafting the verbiage and images that will make up your promotions. Depending on your preferred method of getting the word out, you can get a lot of the footwork done and out of the way now so you can get back to the day-to-day tasks of running your business. This will be especially helpful when you’re short on time later. Most social media platforms have ways to schedule - or at least draft - posts ahead of time, and the same goes for email marketing. Additionally, advertisers often offer discounts for extended ads, so put your planning ahead to good use!
3. Sign up for freebie resources – even webinars! There are a ton free resources available to small businesses all year round, but especially right now. Sign up for them! Now that you’ve freed up some of your time by planning ahead, you can actually attend that workshop or watch that webinar. Even if the timing doesn’t work out for a live stream webinar, sign up so that you can receive the recording to watch on your own time. Sign up for and take advantage of freebie Shop Small promo items from American Express so you’re ready for Small Business Saturday.
4. Take a step back and a look in from your customers’ perspective. Is your storefront and/or online presence ready for visitors? Does your storefront look inviting? Is your online presence updated? Are your products easily identified, accessible and shopable? Is all signage informative and accurate?
5. Remember: customer service is important! 80% say that small businesses provide better service than larger companies, so own that attribute and make it the reason your customers choose you. By the year 2020, customer service will overtake price and product as the key differentiator for customers making purchasing decisions. The holidays are the perfect time to remind your customers that you appreciate their business. Read more on customer service stats.
6. Promote each other! Just being aware of what other businesses offer nearby is a great tool in providing good customer service. Know of another business that compliments your business? Work on a cross promotion that will benefit you both. Share social media posts and they’ll likely reciprocate the favor.
Whether you’re new to the business world, or you’ve been around for a while, there’s always something new to learn or try in order to better your business. Don’t feel like you need to reinvent the wheel or that you’re out there alone. Take advantage of the many resources that are available. Contact Midwest Partnership EDC with any questions – we’re here to help!
Midwest Partnership EDC