The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the busiest shopping season of the year. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers in the U.S. spent $886.7 billion during the 2021 holiday season — and the total is expected to be even higher in 2022 as consumer demand continues to rise.
With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and holiday-themed promotions like “12 Days of Deals,” retailers have plenty of opportunities to draw in customers during this season. Customers across the nation are looking for great deals as they shop for their family, friends, co-workers, and even a few people they don’t particularly care for, and they’re primed to spend money.
Still, it will take a little work to maximize your profits, especially if you own a local store that relies heavily on foot traffic. Instead of waiting for customers to find you, use these five retailer holiday planning tips to drive sales.
1. Build Community
Be intentional about raising your business’s profile before Black Friday arrives and establishing yourself as a helping hand in the community.
Find ways to really connect with your community. Consider offering some hands-on workshops, networking events, or guest lectures. Just remember that the main goal of these events is building community, not making sales.
Supporting local nonprofits and service groups is another way to promote your company while connecting with the community.
For instance, you could host a Thanksgiving food drive for the local food bank or collect Christmas presents for kids in need. You can also partner with local organizations by signing up as a sponsor for various events and projects.
2. Shine on Social Media
A robust social media presence may be just as important as a traditional website. If you only have time to manage one account, Facebook is the most versatile. However, Instagram is an excellent place to showcase your blown glass items, feature artists that you work wth, and all the visually appealing items that you carry in your shop.
An experienced social media manager can be worth their weight in gold. If that’s not in your budget, many companies offer online tips and tutorials to boost your strategy. You can also learn through observation by finding businesses similar to yours and noting what does or doesn’t work for them.
Having an established audience will make it that much easier to promote your holiday deals and drive foot traffic.
However, if you do not have the time or resources to invest in building your own following right now, there is another option: Partner with industry leaders and organizations that already have a large following.
Working with influencers, trade shows, and similar accounts with an established audience and having them feature your products will generally be much more effective than a basic sponsored or boosted post.
3. Engage Customers
Word-of-mouth is particularly important for local businesses, so engaging your customers is important.
Here are some ways to get your customers talking:
- Contest and giveaways: As you count down to Black Friday, host contests and giveaways to draw more people to your social media pages and email subscriber lists.
- Referral programs: Offer existing customers a discount or store credit for referring friends to your business.
Influencer collaborations: Recruit a few locals with large social media followings to post about your store or specific products.
- Customer reviews: Ask loyal customers to post about their purchases and leave honest reviews on Facebook, Google, Yelp, and other platforms.
- Flash sales: Plan some flash sales or offer exclusive coupon codes for customers who subscribe to your email list.
All of these initiatives will help build up your brand. You can even use giveaways and collaborations to boost your Black Friday messaging by featuring products that will be on sale or that would make great holiday gifts.
4. Negotiate Cross-Promotions
Not every retailer is a competitor. Look for other local businesses that would be a good fit for a B2B cross-promotion arrangement and make a proposal.
For instance, you and another store could set up an arrangement that gives your customers a discount at their store and their customers a discount at yours. This works especially well if you have some natural customer overlap. You could also clear some space for another business to have a small display in your store or keep their business cards at your checkout counter.
Another way to cross-promote is to run joint advertising campaigns with nearby businesses to drive traffic to your area. You could also give your sales a boost by announcing you will donate a portion of the proceeds to a local nonprofit.
5. Sponsor Holiday Shopping Guides
As the holiday season gets closer, holiday shopping guides become a fixture of print and digital content.
Make it a goal to be featured in as many publications as possible.
This could include:
- Participating in local coupon books
- Sponsoring articles in a local magazine
- Pitching a gift guide, feature, or shopping specials to your local newspaper, radio station, or news channels
You can even write your own holiday shopping guide to post on your website or do a series of social media posts with gift suggestions for different ages.
Putting in the work to build your brand and engage your audience before Black Friday increases the chances of a record-breaking holiday season. For more helpful tips on improving profitability, check out other HQ International articles — including part one of this series: “Gearing Up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday: How to Make the Most of the Year’s Biggest Spending Frenzy.”