Are you ready for the holidays? Maybe you aren’t personally, but is your business? On Tuesday, November 19th the Small Business Association (SBA) hosted a #SBAchat on Twitter filled with great information to ensure you and your business are ready for this extremely short holiday season. This year there are very few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas which means if you aren’t ready you could miss a ton of opportunity.

The questions covered during the chat included:

  1. What should small businesses know about shoppers this year?
  2. What are some inexpensive marketing tips for the holidays?
  3. How can small businesses get customers in the door?
  4. How can non-retail businesses take advantage of the holidays?
  5. Small Business Saturday is Nov. 30. What should small businesses know?
  6. Where can small businesses go to find more resources?

There was a wide array of businesses and organizations that weighed in on each of the questions and offered plenty of advice that can be helpful to those with retail and service businesses.

Here are some of my favorite replies and links to resources that you will find helpful for your holiday planning.

What should small businesses know about shoppers this year?

Google Small Business said “Did you know your customers are more likely to search for your business online before visiting you in store? Unwrap more insights like this from #GrowWithGoogle’s holiday livestream.” I recently started a campaign through my sewing and embroidery business to request reviews from customers after they make a purchase. I’ve had a great response from customers and it allows me to share this information on social media and throughout my website so that when people do search they will find positive information about my business. If you aren’t requesting reviews or testimonials from your customers – you should!

From Bench Accounting: “Shoppers are looking for products and experiences with value that extends beyond the gifting experience. Think products that the recipient will have for years, or experience multiple times, like a subscription service.”

Small Business Majority shared “The 2019 holiday shopper is all about community and value-based shopping. This could be good news for #smallbiz owners who are used to competing with large online retailers. Read more 2019 consumer trends via Forbes.”

What are some inexpensive marketing tips for the holidays?

If you aren’t using Google My Business you could really be missing out and this information from Constant Contact enforces that: “Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive — at any time of the year. The first place to start is making sure your website and business hours are up-to-date, like on Google My Business.” Be sure to read my post about setting up your Google My Business account. They also shared: “And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention email marketing! It’s not only less expensive than you’d think, but it’s also worth it. Check out these six email marketing hacks that will help you make more money this season.”

I particularly love this response from Bench Accounting because I do my best to partner with small businesses locally and across the U.S. in an effort to promote one another and help grow our businesses. I have partnered with several small businesses via my GeminiRed Creations business to host a 2019 Holiday Gift Guide showcasing the works of other small businesses. If you have a small business and would like to join the gift guide, I’d be honored to include you! “Establish partnerships with fellow small businesses businesses through social media giveaways and collaborations to connect with new audiences and potential customers.” When I asked if they had any great suggestions for Facebook and Instagram giveaways that work well they provided a resource for creating an engaging online contest.

How can small businesses get customers in the door?

Sometimes it is hard to have a small business and offer coupons because you may not have a lot of markup, but My Corporation had this suggestion: “Offer a pop-up coupon when they visit your website. This is a great way to grow your e-newsletter mailing list, and give the customer an instant discount when they shop with you!”

Google Small Business has the right idea when it comes to driving business to your shop. “GoogleAds has tips on how to drive local traffic to your store this holiday season. Learn how to make customer shopping more convenient for your community.” Check out there 2019 holiday checklist.

What about hosting a customer appreciation event as mentioned by Bench Accounting? “Host a customer appreciation evening with snacks and beverages, or offer personal shopping and gift wrap. Offer something as an in store perk that aligns with your product or service, and that you think shoppers will find valuable.” For my handmade business I have a booth in a local shop and they recently let the local garden club host their monthly meeting at the shop. It was an opportunity for The Little Marketplace to host people who may not have been to the store in the past, partake in community events, and make a little money when the club went on a shopping spree after their meeting. Partnering with your community and supporting them is a win/win.

How can non-retail businesses take advantage of the holidays?

Don’t have a retail business? What about offering your services such as gift wrapping, marketing and promotion, helping small businesses with Small Business Saturday? Small Business Majority shared a great article from SCORE of Five Ways Service-Based Businesses Can Use Small Business Saturday to Boost Their Brands. Small Business Majority is celebrating Small Business Saturday with a photo contest! Join the excitement and enter!

Small Business Saturday is Nov. 30. What should small businesses know?

Each year people say they will shop small, but the question is ‘do they?’. According to statistics provided by SCORE “Last year, 97% of consumers said #SmallBusinessSaturday had a positive impact on their communities, and 80% said they were planning to shop at #smallbusinesses or restaurants on that day. Learn more in our infographic.”

The New Jersey Business Action Center says, “This is a great time to work together. Promote as a group your downtowns and main streets. Let your customers know about your neighbors. Help each other.” If you have a favorite local store – be sure to share it. Don’t keep the secret all to yourself. Promoting them can help them stay a part of your community for many years!

Where can small businesses go to find more resources?

Venturize said “Our friends at SCOREmentors have great tips and advice to help prepare you for the holiday season! Check SCORE out.” I have been lucky enough to attend in person and webinar-based training through SCORE. They offer a wealth of knowledge for FREE. Just about any topic you can think of related to running a small business is covered in one of their webinars. Do yourself a favor and get involved!

There was so much great information it is hard to capture it all in one blog post. I pulled from my favorite resources to share with you here, but head over to Twitter for a full rundown and recap from the SBA on all the tips and tricks that flooded in during their live chat. Don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of information – take it one piece at a time and see how you can implement it into your business.

If you need help brainstorming or marketing, I am always available for ad hoc projects and look forward to partnering with you on your upcoming endeavors. I’m wishing you much success for the 2019 holiday season and for a fantastic 2020!

What tips and tricks do you have for preparing for the holiday season or the new year?