When you are a small business going into the holiday season, it can be a little scary. Every year you hear about stores staying open 24 hours on Thanksgiving to Black Friday. And then you hear about the mile-long return lines the day after Christmas. It all sounds like such a nightmare.
So how do you keep your small business on track and out of the mess of the holidays? Here are some great secrets to try out this year and stand out from the big guys.
Go easy on the sales
As a small business, it can be hard to run large sales. And when every one of your large competitors is discounting to cut-throat rates, you need to get out of the race. The race to the bottom will never help you stay on top.
Most big retailers pick a large section of items and do deep discounts. Then others are either raised or sold at normal. The sales get people through the doors. This year try something different. Do a storewide sale on everything for a smaller percentage. Or if sales are not the norm in your shop, then advertise the fact that you don’t rip off your customers. Show off how you are treating everyone the same. Point out that you don’t sell one item high only to sell something else low, so they come in the doors.
Show off your values
You are not one of the big guys. Prove it. Show it. Instead of having your staff come in the middle of the day thanksgiving do something else. You don’t need to prove you can open at 6 or whatever time becomes the trend this year. People love to hear about stories of stores who treat their employees with respect. And your employees will thank you and talk about it.
In recent years some of the stores that did the best in the media were those that stood up and said no more. Think of Nordstrom’s, REI, or JoAnn’s. And the sales in those stores went over as well the next day. Sometimes the process of denying someone something makes them want it even more.
Why does Black Friday have to be on Black Friday? Start your deals in advance of the holidays. While you may not get the giant rush, let’s face it, would you anyway? When I have gone out on Black Friday recently it seems like the little stores are dead. It’s not because they have no sales running. It is because they don’t have a fraction of the budget the big guys do.
If you run your special in advance you can catch those who prefer to shop without the craziness. There are many who will shop a deal before Black Friday if you reach out to them. Show them the deal and the relaxed pace. This will make shopping inviting to those who hate the crowds. The key is to make you’re special invite them to shop.
Sales are the name of the game this time of year. But what if instead of a sale you made something else easier. You have seen this before with stores that give away a free turkey for shopping, or spending so much. But you can take that one step beyond. Work a deal with other small shops in your area and create a network of deals.
Think about a pass that gets you into the stores with a 10% discount. And at the end, if you get to every store you get a gift. I am sure you can come up with something. And this works for more than retail stores. Hook yourself up with the local auto shop and pizza shop. They buy a meal, get a checkup on their car before they travel and do their shopping. And in the end, get something for free. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Use Unconventional Media
You have seen many businesses with the 10-page ad in the paper. But there are so many media types out there. Find a less used outlet. Or go in a small group of neighboring businesses to get traffic to your shopping center.
Social media can drive huge traffic. But only with the right influences. Try using Facebook groups to give sneak previews of an upcoming sale. Do a special where a like or retweet gets them into a contest or a door prize. People love to talk about the free stuff they get. Make they’re talking about your store.
The last secret I have is to ignore all the hype. The holiday season comes and goes every single year. There will always be another big thing, some other big idea. You could spend the whole season wishing why you had not done this or that.
Keep looking forward and stop looking back or side to side. Be your own business and stop trying to be Walmart or Amazon. If you know you will lose why even battle them on that front? Pick the battles and win the fights you know that you can. Use the features you have to your advantage.
It may sound weird but here it is: Think Small Not Big. Be Agile and Win.
So now you know my secrets. If you did not notice, it is all about being different. Can you find at least one of these to use in your small business? I bet something here can help you. Go. Get started now.