4 Things to Do For Your Small Business in December

The holiday shopping season is in full tilt right now and while you’re busy analyzing your Black Friday and Cyber Monday revenue, there are a few things you want to do to capture those December holiday dollars.

Refresh Your Website

If you still have Black Friday info up there, it’s time to strip it down and focus on last-minute shoppers. You want to ensure everyone knows the last days to order from you to meet shipping deadlines as well as what your availability is for pick-up or services. If you have hard-to-find items available, let people know. If you have space left for reservations, offer that on your front page. Websites are designed to feature the most up-to-date info so make sure you are using that space to drive the most sales.

Make an Offer

December has a way of getting away from people. We enter the month thinking we have an entire month to shop and before we know it, we’re missing ordering deadlines and holiday shopping at a 24-hour grocery store as we head to a friend’s house. That’s why December is the perfect time to roll out a special deal. It doesn’t have to be a loss leader. People are already in a need-to-buy situation. It’s just a little something extra to make them feel the value behind what they’re getting. That could be a coupon for a free dessert with every $100 gift card or special tote bags for purchases. Use a bonus offer with purchase to drive more sales.

Launch a Social Media Giveaway

A quick way to build your following (and your email list) is by launching a social media giveaway. Post on social media and encourage people to sign up for your newsletter/discount list. Then pull a name from that list and provide them with a gift card for your business.

Why not just limit the contest to social media posts and shares? Why require them to sign up for your mailing list? Because you don’t own the information on social media. You need a way to contact your fans outside of social sites.

Highlight Past Purchases or Services

A confused mind doesn’t act. You want to be clear about what you offer and what your customers receive. December is a great time to showcase what others have purchased or the services you have rendered. Spotlight clients. Show gift baskets or things you designed for them. When people see options, it’s easier for them to make decisions. Difficulty kills more sales than cost.

December is the most frantic part of Small Business Season. But it’s also an excellent time to help people when they need it most. You can make a big impression on customers when they’re feeling stressed and frantic. Do what you can to make holiday shopping easier on them and you’ll end up with fantastic end-of-year revenue.

Christina Metcalf is a writer/ghostwriter who believes in the power of story. She works with small businesses, chambers of commerce, and business professionals who want to make an impression and grow a loyal customer/member base. She loves road trips, hates exclamation points, and believes the world would be a better place if we all had our own theme song that played when we entered the room. What would yours be?

_______________________________________

Twitter: @christinagsmith

Facebook: @tellyourstorygetemtalking

LinkedIn: @christinagsmith

How to Use Facebook to Promote During Small Business Season

Is it just us or does Black Friday seem to have withered on the vine? Years ago, people would run out to get their newspapers on Thanksgiving to peruse the deals and map out their shopping plans.

This year, holiday deals began in October and thus they’ve lost some of their luster and excitement. Yes, there are many good deals to be had and there’s something to be said for not having to wait outside for a store to open, but there’s no thrill of the hunt, no memorable experience.

That gives the advantage to small business like you who can use Facebook to promote in addition to capitalizing on the thrill of (non-crazy) shopping, the surprises, and the unique experiences and good that you offer. But you have to make sure people know about you. One way to do that is by advertising.

Use Facebook Ads to Promote Your Small Businesses

There are many economical places for small businesses to post ads but one of the most cost-effective, when done right is Facebook. You can get in front of your local target audience for under $15 CPM (cost per thousand). You can target their interests and then retarget those who have interacted with your website or ads previously.

You can run Facebook ads to promote your small business for as little as $5 a day and scale up as you see results. You can use the Facebook pixel to track online or ecommerce sales, thereby knowing exactly how effective your ads are. If you sell in-store only, create offers or codes that are only shown on Facebook and then track them in the store.

Ideally, we all want a customer to act on their initial emotional drive to purchase from us, sometimes it’s just not convenient to buy at that moment. Retargeting will help you stay in front of them until they do purchase.

Know Your Audience to Create Effective Facebook Ads

Effective Facebook ads begin by choosing the right audience. Don’t send your ad to everyone, instead, figure out the interests, demographics and geography of your potential buyers.

If you sold only dog chew toys, would you pay to go to a cat convention in the hope that a cat lover might buy from you? Of course not. That would be a waste of money. You would go where the dog lovers are. You might niche down to uncover a certain kind of dog owner who loved your toys, such as small breeds, and target them, speaking to their specific needs. The same is true when using Facebook ads to promote your business online.

Examples of Effective Facebook Business Ads

Here are a few examples of businesses (and a nonprofit) that have done a great job advertising what they have to offer. In these examples, we’ve listed reasons why they are so effective. Any of these ideas could be easily replicated for your business.

Cuddle Clones

Example of Facebook ad to promote a small business.

What makes this ad stand out:

  • Bright-colored product/image
  • Use of emojis for quick scanning
  • A one-line description of what it is: Your Pet’s Face on Pajamas!
  • A feel-good message: a portion of every purchase will help an animal in need.
  • 4 reasons to buy: it makes a good gift for pet lovers, it’s fun, purchases help someone else, it’s comfortable

Notice too that this ad is nothing fancy. It’s an image and text. It’s scannable with quick-hit text. You could create it in three minutes.

StitchFix

StitchFix is a subscription service that picks out clothes and sends them to you to try on in the comfort of your own home. Their unique selling proposition is: Keep what you want. Return what you don’t.

This is a video ad but the video itself doesn’t matter. A picture could have the same effect for our purposes. But the movement of a video does often catch the attention of the scroller.

Why this works: first, a picture is worth a thousand words and this one tells us that you don’t have to be a size 0 to like what the stylists pick for you. The ad mentions that the products will fit you AND your budget and that the results are personalized through the style quiz. Plus, the call-to-action button invites people to learn more, not buy or sign up. The creators of this ad realize a viewer likely needs more information before purchasing. Knowing your sales cycle is important to crafting an effective advertisement.

Compassion International

Compassion International is a nonprofit that helps children in need. Instead of simply talking about sponsorship, they found a way to connect sponsors with those they’re sponsoring.

Why this works: there are many nonprofits that run sponsorship programs for children in need but Compassion International looked for a commonality in this ad. It’s reminiscent of the Facebook feature that encourages users to raise money for a nonprofit as a birthday present for themselves. It’s the type of activity that makes everyone feel good and builds on a celebratory occasion.

Effective Social Media Selling Posts

You can use Facebook to promote your business through unpaid organic posts. The rule of thumb in social media selling is to give-give-give before you ask. Keep your ratio of information and fun posts high compared to promotional posts.

Leverage Facebook Groups

You may also try posting on local Facebook groups. These aren’t ads, per se, but they can put you in front of the right customers.

Two more rules for posting to Facebook groups:

  1. Follow the group’s rules
  2. Your post should always tell the reader what your goods or services can do for them.

Some Facebook groups allow businesses to post about themselves on directed days. Often, this turns into a free-for-all for over-anxious salespeople. Those are rarely effective on social media. People are there to relax and connect with friends, or in the case of local groups, get the most up-to-date information in the community. When you are overly salesy, they tune you out.

Tie Your Message into Current Events

A good way to catch people’s attention is to tie your post into something that’s currently going on. As hurricane cancellations filled my stream, this business’ post stood out:

Why it works: in a sea of closings, this post was offering a party. Plus, they paired it with an image for more attention. However, one might argue the image could’ve been more appealing but the message was right–when everyone else was doing A, they were enjoying B and inviting others to do it too.

Will you use social media or Facebook ads to promote your small business this year? It’s a great way to get more traction and as you can see from these examples, it doesn’t take an education in graphic design.

By: Christina Metcalf

Rethink the Click: Support Small During Small Business Season

Online shopping is so convenient. Just open a browser and click a couple of times and your holiday gifts could be on their way. But this holiday season we’re asking you to rethink the click and support local small business. It’s good for you and good for them. Here’s why:

Rethink the Click: Shop Small this Holiday

While you can still shop online from local businesses, there are a lot of benefits to rethinking the click and making holiday shopping personal again. When you shop in-person you get the following benefits:

  • Seeing happy faces. For some areas it’s been a while. It’s therapeutic to see smiles again or just mouths in general. When you shop in person you can interact with people. Social interaction is good for brain health and promotes a sense of safety and belonging.
  • Getting your steps in. While it’s no marathon, getting out there and visiting local businesses is more active than sitting on the couch clicking.
  • Spending less. Have you ever ordered so many things online that when you get a notification that a package is coming, you’re unsure of which one that could be? While people generally spend less in single shopping sessions online than they do in person (the cart total helps with that), collectively over the season, you could spend more because items will arrive at different times. Out of site truly can be out of mind when ordering if you’re not careful.
  • Feeling serendipitous. When you shop in person, there’s always a chance of those unexpected finds that you stumble over. Online you’re at the mercy of the search engine.
  • Making memories. In-person shopping can be an event. It’s social. People gather to shop and explore the sights and sounds of the season. Playing Christmas music while shopping on your phone isn’t nearly as fun as enjoying a hot chocolaty beverage near the town ice rink.
  • Experiencing bonus. Many small businesses are offering more than just products and services this season. Some have DIY classes, makers groups, tastings, and holiday instruction parties. Shopping in person is an experience.
  • Avoiding eye strain, neck pain, and shoulder stiffness. Spending too much time online can lead to eye strain, neck pain, shoulder stiffness and other aches. Instead, put your phone down and get out there.
  • Teaching the next generation that there’s life outside of the internet. If you are the type of parent who believes in limiting screen time, then in-person holiday shopping is a terrific lesson to pass on. According to a 2022 Junior Achievement Survey, 60% of teens want to start their own business. Shopping in person for the holidays will help them have a greater appreciation for being a small business owner.

This holiday season, shop small and rediscover the joy of in-person shopping. Sure, there are some inconveniences but there are also a lot of rewards. Enjoy them all.

Christina Metcalf is a writer/ghostwriter who believes in the power of story. She works with small businesses, chambers of commerce, and business professionals who want to make an impression and grow a loyal customer/member base. She loves road trips, hates exclamation points, and believes the world would be a better place if we all had our own theme song that played when we entered the room. What would yours be?

_______________________________________

Twitter: @christinagsmith

Facebook: @tellyourstorygetemtalking

LinkedIn: @christinagsmith

Save a Small Business This Holiday Season

It’s officially Small Business Season and that means it’s time to give a little love to small business. With rising interest rates, soaring costs, and online competition, small businesses are feeling the crunch. This season, do a little extra for your neighbors and make a concerted effort to shop small. If you do, you could be saving a small business this year.

How to Save Small Business Without a Lot of Money

Besides being job generators, small businesses flavor our towns. They attract tourists and bring money from other communities into our own. A quaint Main Street and shopping district attracts a lot of people. If we don’t support small business this year, we could lose those businesses and lose the attraction factor for additional spending.

Yet not everyone has money to spend this holiday season. According to GOBankingRates over 1/3 people surveyed plan to forgo tipping their service providers or providing them with a Christmas bonus. People are looking for ways to save and many are coming up short. Still, there are many ideas for saving small business that won’t cost you anything.

  1. Write reviews of your favorites on a variety of sites. From Facebook to Google, industry-specific sites to local spots, reviews influence buying decisions. Writing a review is free.
  2. Tag friends when you see something they would like on social media. When a small business shares something you like on social media, tag a friend. Not only will your friend see the post, but all their friends will as well (permission settings allowing, of course).
  3. Check-in at businesses. Even if you’re not buying, when you check in at a business that is providing social proof that you are visiting this business. It creates a crowd mentality that the place is worth checking out. Ever decide not to eat at a restaurant because there are no cars in the parking lot? Checking in helps create a (virtual) crowded lot, which drives people to check the business out.
  4. Share images from the business. Take pictures. Share details about your experience. Photograph their calendar of events. Share anything that would draw people in. When you’re not directly affiliated with a business and you share, people see that as an endorsement and they’re more likely to act.
  5. Join their newsletter or mailing list. Now may not be a good time to buy but joining their mailing list and forwarding helpful information to your audience can help match a buyer with a needed product or service.
  6. Answer questions. If you see a question about a product or service on a group, give some suggestions. These types of referrals are hot leads for your favorite small business because they know the person asking is already in the market for what they sell or do.
  7. Post a round-up on social media. Create a list of your favorite businesses, restaurants, or service providers or post a daily “thankful for small business post” and feature a new local business each day. Write a “best new businesses” post for businesses that opened this year. Get creative and tag the business whenever possible.

There’s a lot you can do to support small businesses without spending anything. Giving them your time and promoting them to your audience can drive buyers to patronize them. For the biggest impact, make sure that everything you post is visible to the public and encourage people to share your posts. Your efforts might just be saving a small business this season.

Christina Metcalf is a writer/ghostwriter who believes in the power of story. She works with small businesses, chambers of commerce, and business professionals who want to make an impression and grow a loyal customer/member base. She loves road trips, hates exclamation points, and believes the world would be a better place if we all had our own theme song that played when we entered the room. What would yours be?

_______________________________________

Twitter: @christinagsmith

Facebook: @tellyourstorygetemtalking

LinkedIn: @christinagsmith

Why Shop Small for the Holidays?

Small businesses add flavor to our area. There is a sense of adventure when you explore a small business. You never know what beauties you’ll uncover or what scrumptiousness awaits. Sadly, that’s also why a lot of people choose to patronize chains. With chains they know exactly what they’ll get and there’s a lot of comfort in that.

But comfort does come at a price and that price could be our community.

Large employers and chains are vital to our area, but this holiday season we’re asking you to support small business to help ensure they’re around in the coming years.

Here’s why:

7 Reasons to Support Small Business This Holiday Season

  1. Small businesses need you. While SCORE advises that businesses should keep three to six months of operating reserves, most small businesses have 27 days’ worth. With inflation, rising costs, hiring issues, and a plethora of other challenges, that place our small businesses in a precarious position, where you spend your money this holiday could affect which businesses will be here in the new year.
  2. It feels good to shop small. Supporting small business feels good because you can see the impact. The smiles and gratitude you receive for shopping with a small business feel special. You can tell you’re making an impact and often they remember you when you return.
  3. Small businesses support your causes. Small businesses are the first ones you turn to when asking for support for your beloved causes from your kids sports to your favorite nonprofits. Their sponsorships improve the quality of life in the area. But they can’t sponsor your causes if they’re not in business.
  4. Small businesses answer your questions. Chatbots are great but they are programmed to respond literally to your questions. They do not anticipate needs or ask follow-up questions like small business owners and employees do. Sometimes the conversation that comes from speaking with small business professionals lead to other opportunities, interests, and stories. That’s less likely to happen with a chatbot or large-scale online retailer.
  5. Small businesses give you an experience. Shopping small is about the experience and holiday shopping provides some of the biggest highlights of the year with seasonal aromas, delightful demos, delicious tastes, and happy melodies. Twinkle lights make everything more festive. Even an amazing website can’t provide the same tantalizing shopping experience an in-person trip to your favorite small business can.
  6. Small businesses rely on your holiday spending. As many as 20% of small businesses rely on holiday sales to offset slower times during the year. If you don’t buy local during the holidays, it affects their future.
  7. You can be a gift-giving wizard. Times are tight right now and many of us are cutting back on what we’re spending this year so that we can cover rising costs in essentials. While it’s natural to look for the cheapest gift possible during these times, you don’t want to forgo the holiday smiles from the perfect gift just to stay in your budget. Many small businesses provide unique, thoughtful items that you can’t get in many places. You can spend less but give your special someone something that they’ll cherish.

Shopping small this holiday season is a big deal. These past few years have been hard on local businesses. With smaller operating reserves, rising costs and lower sales, they need you this year. And if you enjoy those small businesses, you know where you need to put your holiday dollars.

Christina Metcalf is a writer/ghostwriter who believes in the power of story. She works with small businesses, chambers of commerce, and business professionals who want to make an impression and grow a loyal customer/member base. She loves road trips, hates exclamation points, and believes the world would be a better place if we all had our own theme song that played when we entered the room. What would yours be?