Editors note: I am really thrilled to offer you a special guest post by Rena Tom! Rena’s post & website are packed with actionable ideas to help you grow your business and if you run a creative business you should absolutely be following her. Even if you’ve put off holiday marketing Rena’s post will leave you feeling energized and ready to make the most of the 47 shopping days left before Christmas.
guest post by Rena Tom of renatom.net
You’ve been warned for months that holiday prep should have started 3 or even 6 months ago, and that some businesses make 30-70% of their money in the fourth quarter. And yet – it’s mid-November, you’ve spent your prep time reacting rather than planning (raise your hand if this sounds familiar) and you don’t really have a marketing strategy for direct sales via your online shop, whether that is your own site, your Etsy shop, or your Facebook page. How can you ensure that each one of the next 30 days really counts?
Don’t fret – it’s not too late to plan some campaigns for this last, most-important month of the year. Here are some ideas that you can implement quickly and cheaply.
Offer free shipping or upgraded shipping. Upgraded shipping is great for last-minute buyers. Free shipping, if you don’t normally offer it, can make or break a sale for fans of your work who need just a little push to buy.
Offer gift wrap, special packaging and/or handwritten gift cards. If your packaging is already great, make sure you show a photo of it on your site.
Create a surprise box, or create several at different price points. You never know how people like to shop, and it will cost you nothing except a little time to make a listing.
Hold a contest/giveaway. The goal here is to get more people to visit your site, so make sure people must look at your site to tell you their favorite product.
Make a gift guide. Suggesting items for different kinds of people is great help for overwhelmed shoppers. Be the expert and direct people to where they need to be.
Offer gift bundles. Again, show your good taste and sell sets of products. Maybe during most of the year, a necklace and earrings are too expensive to buy together, but someone buying a holiday gift for his wife often likes to get her multiple gifts, and to make it easy on himself will purchase a set.
Hold a progressive blog party with your maker friends. This takes a little bit more prep but can be a very effective to drive traffic. Each person promotes the party on their site. People visit each site and leave a comment on all of the blogs. For visiting each site, they might get a discount code good for all sites, or be entered for a gift basket giveaway.
photo credit: Tricia of www.everynothingwonderful.com
Provide gift cards if someone spends a certain amount. This provides a little treat for the shopper to spend on herself – and also brings her back to the site at a later date.
Donate a portion of sales to your favorite charity. Besides being a good thing to do, this can get you press and attention in your community.
Hold a flash sale on a product. Take advantage of the “deals” mentality by running one yourself. Limit it to a very short time period. Toward the very end of the holiday season, this can be a good way to clear out any remaining inventory you have.
Things to remember:
Statistically, just getting people to your site should mean more sales, so try both traffic-building activities as well as conversion-related promotions. You can promote certain tactics for your loyal customers through mailing list/Facebook/Twitter, and advertise others sitewide for new visitors. Keep track of how well various promotions do; you can bring the successful ones back next year!
Also, pay attention to keeping your new customers all year-round. Lots of small businesses make efforts to gain customers but don’t do a good job retaining them, and it will be easier (and less expensive) selling to people who already know and love you.
Make sure your customers know your promotion’s start and end dates, and also advertise your drop-dead shipping dates prominently. This is just good customer service and also gives a sense of urgency to shoppers as they peruse your site. I like to use HYPERLINK “http://www.hellobar.com/” Hello Bar to really draw attention to specific promotions on my site.
Have enough supplies on hand. Now (as in this week) is the time to make sure you have enough shipping supplies. Shipping times tend to stretch out the closer you get to the holidays and as the weather gets worse across the country, so order now to avoid running out later.
Finally – if you think you have a really great promo, ask people to spread the word. You never know if you’ll show up on an influential person’s blog or wishlist!
Rena Tom is a strategist for creative business owners. She previously owned Rare Device, a boutique and art gallery with locations in New York and San Francisco that was renowned for its carefully edited collection of design objects, books and fashion, and for supporting small, innovative designers and artists whose work was not easily found in stores. Currently, she blogs about business tips and trends at renatom.net and contributes to Design*Sponge, Poppytalk and UPPERCASE Magazine on small business topics. Find her on Twitter @rena_tom