It’s official – the holiday season is upon us. Thanksgiving has just passed and now we are moving on to the season in which dollar signs flash in the eyes of many business owners. Most of the focus of the season goes to the big-box retailers, who manage to sell flat screen TVs for $10, or so it seems. Each week of sales and advertisement is designed to be bigger and better than the week before.
It only makes sense that businesses should try to make the most of social media as well as other marketing tactics during the holidays. Utilizing social media and other online avenues to draw in customers is crucial. In the past, most consumers have relied on newspaper ads in order to find holiday sales. While this is still a useful medium for holiday advertising, it’s important for businesses to explore other avenues as well.
Photo Courtesy of Houston Style MagazineThe rampant use of the internet has changed where retailers should be focusing when it comes to holiday advertising. Instead of paper copies of the Target Black Friday ad or the Toys R Us Big Toy Book, most retailers are offering PDF downloads or just posting advertising directly on their own websites. Small businesses can of course take advantage as well. For smaller companies, using social media to drive people to a full website is an important tactic.
Let’s explore some types of internet marketing that retailers can use during the holidays:
· Email. Email marketing is far and away one of the most common ways that retailers promote sales and specials during the holidays. Before I decided it was necessary for my budget and my sanity to unsubscribe from some companies, I was receiving upwards of 200 emails per days – every single one of them was trying to sell me something. If your company wants to utilize email marketing strategies, it’s important to be careful not to alienate your customers. Too many emails will cause customers to do what I did – unsubscribe. But too few emails and yours is likely to get lost in the shuffle. One of the best ways to strike a balance is to only send out emails that have a specific purpose or message. An email marketing company can help guide you in the right direction.
· Social Media Pages. Social media pages are great places to get customers involved in what is going on in your business during the holidays. Posts can range from questions about holiday plans and menus, to special incentives for social media followers. Lowe’s Home Improvement ran an extremely successful campaign during the 2011 holiday season, where they offered social media followers a series of coupons that were good for up to 90% off of certain popular items. The catch was, you had to be online and on their fan page in order to snag them. It was a big win for the company because it allowed the business to be personal with their customers – something they appreciated. Follow Lowe’s example and consider offering specials that are good only for social media followers. Word may spread and your company can gain lots of fans in a little bit of time.
· Creative Avenues. Companies can also consider ways to advertise that might not be so traditional (or, at least as traditional as anything related to the Internet can be!). Consider placing ads or sponsorships with other businesses that have a similar focus. Companies can also partner with other companies to make special offers. For example, if you shop on one site, you get a discount code for another, or vice versa. So many people are now choosing to do their holiday shopping online; this can really be a boom for both businesses.
A successful holiday shopping season can really make or break a business. Consider these avenues and tips when it comes time to form a holiday marketing and social media strategy to help your small business overcome the big-box retailers.