happy little biz

Holiday marketing that feels RIGHT for your business

You wouldn't believe it by the weather today here in Toronto, but the holidays are fast approaching. If you’ve been in business even a short time, you probably know that mid-November through the end of the year is a big time for sales and bookings, which means it's an important time to look at doing some holiday-focused marketing for your small biz. Yes, you might not have the latest hot ticket item for sale (I totally thought these fabulous rainbow-kitten socks would be the latest craze), but you can still end 2015 with a bang if you focus your efforts in the right ways.

In my experience, there are two major reasons why marketing around the holidays is important, even if your business doesn't sell Christmas-y items.

First: People like deals! (Bet you didn't see that coming...)

No doubt about it, we all like to save money. So setting up a special December-only deal can attract people to book in with you or buy your product now rather than waiting until the new year.

Second: People in a festive mood are more comfortable spending money.

Folks are more willing to spend on things that they might not normally purchase at this time of year. As an example, back when I was a massage therapist I used to get a number of calls in November and December from people who had never booked an appointment with me before, just to buy a gift certificate for their partner or a friend. I would also hear from people who hadn't been in to see me in months, sometimes even years, asking to buy a gift certificate. Sometimes those very same people decided to book an appointment for themselves while they were at it!

Now, I know some of you are probably thinking that it’s not really appropriate in your profession to offer “big sales” on anything. Or maybe you just aren’t comfortable with that idea, because it feels wrong to you and who you are. And I get that, because I totally feel the same way.

So how can you do something to help your business end 2015 with a bang while remaining professional and offering something that resonates with who you are and what you do?

Focus on saying thank you to your clients for supporting your business, rather than just 'getting sales'. That’s a win for everyone, because it feels great to thank the people who support your business, and folks like to be thanked!

For example:

Offer something to current clients. Give them a small discount, such as 10% off their next appointment if they buy a gift certificate for someone else in the month of December.

Create packages. Make sure to let folks know you're only offering them for the month of December as a special holiday thank you. Price them fairly so you're compensating your time while still offering your clients a reasonable discount. Selling packages is most effective if you can demonstrate how much people will save; tell them the regular price on this group of services is X, but your special December package is available for only Y.

Run a contest. Get an item that would be attractive to others but doesn't cost you an arm and a leg (because I’m pretty sure you’ll still need those). For example, a gift certificate for a popular restaurant. Then let your clients know that for the month of December, anyone who books an appointment with you will be entered into a draw to win the item.

Once you've decided on what you're going to offer, how do you get the word out?

I suggest doing two things: do a refresh of the front page of your website, and send out an email.

The refresh of your website doesn't have to be drastic. It can be as simple as changing the main image to something holiday-themed and putting a link to a simple page that explains what you are offering. It could also be a blog post that you feature on the front page. You want something that people will see as soon as they open your website.

With emails, you might be wondering if they will get lost in all the other holiday offers companies are sending out right now. Well, believe it or not, stats show email open rates stay about the same during the holidays as the rest of the year, suggesting people deal just fine with the increased volume of emails. Good news!

But that doesn't mean they open ALL email. Think about yourself: do you tend to delete a fair bit of the email you receive this time of year, without even opening it? Yeah, me too. So how do you get more people to read your email?

Make the subject line awesome. After all, that's the first, and possibly only thing people will see when they receive an email from you. In general, make sure your subject is personalized, exciting, and mentions the word offer or special. The folks at Campaign Monitor just released a great post on exactly this topic, which I suggest reading. They've got some serious data backing up their advice.

But the most important thing? Just be yourself! No need to pretend to be a sales person if you aren't one. So, wish people happy holidays, tell a holiday-themed joke (keeping it appropriate to your audience of course!), or redo your website in red and green for the month of December if you really, REALLY love Christmas. Whatever feels right to you. No fake sales tactics required. Besides, people see through that stuff anyway.

No matter what you decided to do to promote your business this holiday season, I wish you success! Let me know in the comments what your own plans are, I'd love to hear them!

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