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Dismal Holiday Season

Answered by Anita Campbell , Founder and CEO of Small Business Trends on December 20, 2013

Q:

Cena Senemar, http://tandttactical.com asks:

I am having a slow Christmas season, having tried online and TV advertising and also e-mails to former customers. What other options are available to business owners who are having a hard time getting people in their stores?

A:

Expert Anita Campbell answers:

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(1) If allowable in your location, consider a sandwich board on the sidewalk near your front door, or a temporary sign on wheels you can put out at the street of your location to attract drive-by visitors and lure in foot traffic.  You might even beef up your store holiday decorations to attract more attention — more lights or perhaps making them blink to grab attention.  Or go outside to offer complimentary refreshments to lure people in.  I know shop owners that even play holiday music with an outdoor speaker, to attract attention.

(2) See if you can work something out with nearby complementary businesses. For example, when we owned an art gallery, there was a coffee shop two doors down.  For a small fee ($100) they allowed us to put some gift items on a display in the coffee shop and on the walls, and sold them for us. The tags were our business cards and we hand wrote “2 doors down” on them. We had a little bit of shrinkage — a couple of small things we never got paid for and one item that got broken — but overall it was a good marketing move. I know an oriental rug store that had this kind of relationship  with an independent book store for many years.

(3) Run a flash social media sale, such as a Twitter or Facebook sale.  Announce in the morning that today all Facebook followers or Twitter followers will get an extra 10% off if they come in and mention “Twitter” or “Facebook.”  This mainly works if you have a social following built up.  If you don’t have a big following yourself, you may be able to buy some sponsored Facebook posts or tweets to beef up your results.

(4) Consider hiring someone to stand with a Sale sign on the street corner.  Now some merchants don’t like the idea of this, and I’ve never tried it myself, but I have heard of it working.   Check local regulations to make sure this type of activity is allowable, if you decide to do it.  Please allow frequent breaks for your sign holder.

Direct mail may be a possibility if you can justify the expense, but it does take a bit more time to put together.  Look into the USPS’s Every Door Direct program (https://www.usps.com/business/every-door-direct-mail.htm) for reasonable options that can target specific neighborhoods.

Finally, remember that some people get gift cards and money gifts as holiday presents, and actually love to shop sales right after Christmas,  So even if you can’t get shoppers in before Christmas, run an after-Christmas or year-end sale.

Anita Campbell »
Anita Campbell is the founder and CEO of Small Business Trends. For the past 10 years has brought daily news, tips and advice to an audience now numbering over 6 million small business owners, managers and entrepreneurs annually.  The site's motto is "small business success, delivered daily." The former CEO of a technology subsidiary of Bell & Howell, Anita has started and run several businesses, including a retail art gallery together with her husband.  She provides advice relating to starting, operating, growing and selling a business.  She maintains an active dialog on social sites, including Twitter and Facebook.  

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