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How Small Businesses Can Set Themselves Apart This Holiday Season

How Small Businesses Can Set Themselves Apart This Holiday Season


Going up against titans like Amazon.com, Walmart, and Target may seem intimidating at any time of the year. This is especially true during the holiday season. Small business owners can feel intimidated by the expensive advertising campaigns and the steep discounts offered by mega-companies around Thanksgiving and Christmas. But, small businesses don’t need to be left behind in the busiest shopping season of the year.

GoShare recently reached out to several small business owners and consultants to learn how they are setting their brands and products apart this holiday season. By focusing on their strengths, including one-on-one customer service and local relationship building, they are forecasting strong holiday sales and a successful Q4. Here is a round-up of their feedback to help other small business owners find their strengths during the holiday season.

Keep it Personal

Nicole Rohde

Nicole Rohde, Maxwell Scott

Big companies often lose the personal touch and the emotions – and we all know that the Holiday season is all about that warm, cosy feeling. As a small business, you should play towards your strength, meaning use your small team and make the Holiday marketing communication from your company more personal. It will show in your sales! At Maxwell-Scott we always publish gift guides with ideas from our team and we always try to shoot a Christmas campaign that is not just about sales but also about us. Last year, for example, we used the house of our CEO’s mother as the location of our Christmas shoot – we like to show that we are still a family owned company because what is more important than family during the Holiday Season?

Provide a Memorable Experience

Carlos Castelan

Carlos Castelán, The Navio Group

The best way to differentiate your small retail business from your competition, and even the giants like Amazon, over the holidays, is by providing a memorable customer experience. The best customer experiences are ones where the primary aim is to drive customer engagement rather than just trying to sell more products. Retailers that provide a strong customer experience via personable staff or find a way to create a shopping experience that doubles as a medium of entertainment will be successful. To deliver on a great customer experience, when hiring for the holidays, retailers should identify potential employees that proactively provide great customer service to differentiate the retailer from other stores or e-commerce sites. An easy way to do this is to ask questions about how a potential employee has provided great customer service in the past and how they try to anticipate customer needs. Regarding a memorable in-store visit, we’ve seen retailers’ ramp-up their holiday experience to attract children with their parents as a way to become a preferred toy destination. When a retailer can win on experience, they have more of the customer’s attention and that means a higher likelihood of purchasing products and becoming more loyal.

Focus on Improved Products Over Discounts and Spam

Okunyev

Dmytro Okunyev, Chanty

At Chanty, we are working hard for the holiday season by preparing several different campaigns. For Halloween, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas, we’ll have a new feature launched at each date with special discounts, and at Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we’ll have a flash sale with a huge discount.
This year, we’ve decided to take a different approach than our SaaS colleagues and instead of spamming everyone with discounts, we’ll prepare new features that our customers have been requesting for the past few months. On each holiday, a feature will get announced, and a complete full release comes on Christmas.

Focus on the Local

Jeff Moriarty, Moriarty’s Gem Art

We own a retail jewelry store and will be doing a ton of focus around our store location. While we can’t compete as well at a national level, we can at a local level. We will be doing plenty of online sales, but pushing people to come into our stores, which many of our big competitors cannot. Our plan is to advertise the advantages of coming into the store rather than just shopping online. This will be done through Google Adwords, Google Shopping, Facebook and Instagram. We are setting up campaigns now and plan on launching November 1st!

Increase Capacity and Staffing in Advance

Dawna Boone, Valet Maids

I am a small business owner in Dallas, TX. I own Valet Maids, an easy to book maid service for busy people. We are preparing for the upcoming busy holiday season by increasing our hiring so that we can increase our capacity to serve our clients. The holiday season is usually busy due to people wanting their home clean for holiday guests. Additionally, many people move at the end of the year and require a move-out cleaning. Even though we are not in the retail space, we also experience a significant uptick in business and the end of the year and are starting now to prepare for the season.

Customize the Experience for the Individual

Donna Lubrano, Dr. Bessettes Naturals

As we speak, the kiosk in the Boston Public Market is receiving a make-over. The “glam squad” is redesigning the layout, removing slow moving products and adding products such as body butters, candles and new bath salts. We are looking to drive sales for the holidays, making our products for gift giving for both B2B and B2C. Updating items adding new products and teaching our customers about the use and value of using vegan, all natural products is one of the ways we prepare for the holidays. This one on one, personal customer service, helps customize the experience for each individual who comes into our kiosk. The main idea is to teach our existing and potential customers how to use our products and to share our products with those the love and care about.

Make Clients’ Lives Easier

Chris Beer

Chris Beer, B.Well Consulting

I am the Founder and CEO of B.Well Consulting, a firm that works with fitness and wellness studio owners to maximize their income and increase efficiency. This is the advice that I have given to fitness studio owners this year: Your Black Friday / Small Business Saturday special should be a deeply discounted class package that is only valid during the month of December (typically, a time when people cancel due to holiday commitments). Create a segment of the clients who bought the December special and start targeted messaging to them starting in mid-December, aiming to convert them to recurring membership (if they’re not there already). Since the holiday season can be hectic, make clients’ lives easier by stocking up on retail items that they can use for school teacher gifts, hostess gifts, etc. Having lots of small gender-neutral wrapped items (a candle paired with a studio gift card, for example) on hand can make your clients’ lives easier AND increase your ancillary revenue.


Learn More

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Looking for more information about how small businesses and brick and mortar businesses can stay competitive, even in the face of retail giants? Check out these additional posts from GoShare.