'Tis the season for holiday shopping—but not for everyone. When customers are looking to spend money over the holidays to buy gifts for family and friends, it's natural for businesses to want to capture that holiday magic and those holiday dollars.
There are certainly a lot of holiday dollars out there. But what if your business doesn't exactly scream Christmas, Hanukkah or anything remotely festive, religious or holiday related? Is there any way to profit during this period? There can be ways to help boost your business's relevance during the holiday season.
Remind your customers if there's any sort of link to the holidays.
If you have a cleaning service, your customers may already think that they'd like their homes cleaned before the holidays. But there's no shame in reminding them in your marketing materials. Kayla Graniero of New York City's Indoor Environmental Solutions, a company that cleans air ducts among other things, says that they're always sure to mention their services as being a fine thing to do before the holidays, though she says they aren't too pushy about it.
—Alexander Fowler, owner, Refined Resumes
Not being pushy is important to remember. Customers aren't likely to hold anything against you if you gently remind them that you're out there during the holidays. But if you try to make it sound like everyone should be thinking about the injection mold industry during the holidays, you may turn off some of your customers.
Pitch your business's product or services as a practical gift.
OK, so gutter cleaning may not be a popular gift for the holidays. But maybe a parent might want to give that service to an adult kid with his or her own home? You could pitch that type of idea in your marketing materials.
Have a sale.
You can call it a holiday sale, or if that feels ridiculous, call it something else if you want. But most clients like to save money, no matter what the time of the year. If the offer is attractive, your clients may notice your business in the midst of the holiday hubbub.
Tell your customers that this is your slow period.
This won't work for every business, but if you feel like you have a more intimate relationship with your customers, it may be a smart move.
Alexander Fowler, owner of Refined Resumes based out of Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, sends out a holiday letter every year around the first of November, letting his previous customers know that his slow period is coming. The holiday letter is written in a conversational voice. Fowler tries to do four things in the letter:
- He shares an update on the state of his business and its future plans. "Our clients are the primary driver of our success and I want them to be invested in that," Fowler says. "We receive more than 40 percent of new business from word of mouth referrals."
- He specifically mentions the slow period coming up and asks his clients to refer their friends, family and co-workers who may be in need of their resume writing.
- He provides small incentives for those referrals in the form of a promo code or small gift.
- He asks clients to send him a note and let him know how their career search turned out or if they need further help. "Since the end of the year is so slow... I find myself doing a lot of small tweaks for clients at no charge. This goodwill always comes back in the form of referrals," Fowler says.
Use this period to work on the other parts of your business that need tending to.
Jeff Kear, owner of Denver-based online event management platform Planning Pod, says that they hit a "two-week dead zone from Christmas week through New Year's Day."
It's understandable and probably impossible to avoid. "People are busy with their holiday plans and aren't looking to dive into new software programs until they get back to work in the new year," Kear says.
But at least January is a busy month, and so Kear says that the company spends the last two weeks of every year tuning up their advertising and marketing initiatives to prepare for the busy season.
"For us, the holidays are more about preparing for growth than trying to market to people who aren't listening the last two weeks of the year," he says.
Schedule your vacation.
Like Kear, Fowler works on his business. He'll network, particularly with prior clients, and ask them for referrals. He also prepares, financially, for a lean holiday season.
But every year, Fowler also takes the "if you can't beat them, join them" approach.
"I schedule my vacation during this time," he says. "Because no matter what I do, it's always slow."
Read more articles on marketing & sales