Each year, the holiday season presents a great opportunity for local businesses of every industry to increase their sales and attract new customers. Gift shopping, family events, and more all have an impact on the number of transactions that occur over this period of a few months at the end of the year, and many individuals are exposed to new products and services they may not have previously known about.
While the holiday season plays an important role in boosting revenues over the short term, it also provides many local companies with a chance to create lasting connections with new customers that lead to further business in the coming year. As we kick off the 2020 business year, it is critical that businesses of all types are aware of certain practices that capitalize on the increase in spending during the holiday season and help to retain shoppers into the future.
When a customer purchases a product either in store or online, it’s important to offer them the opportunity to sign up for an email list that sends out company news, discounts, or updates on new products. Email lists are one of the most effective modern marketing techniques because the individuals who sign up for them are the people who are actually interested in receiving updates about what’s happening with a business.
Unlike, for example, a billboard or television advertisement, which is displayed to an audience regardless of its interests and preferences, email lists advertise to only the individuals who are specifically interested in a certain company, making them one of, if not the most efficient marketing tactic available to businesses today. Offering new holiday customers the option to sign up for an email list is a chance for companies to conserve advertising resources and use them only for legitimate potential customers.
In order to keep holiday shoppers coming back during the rest of the upcoming year, it may be useful for a business to give new customers the option to join a rewards or loyalty program that incentivizes further purchases. One example of such a program might be a punch card, upon which after a certain number of purchases, a customer receives a free or discounted item. If someone is satisfied with the good or service they have bought during the holidays, a punch card may be the added bonus that convinces them to return to your business during the next year.
Not only does a rewards program give seasonal customers a reason to continue purchasing from a certain business, but depending on how its perks are distributed, it can also function as a form of advertisement as well. For instance, a sign at checkout that reads, “For rewards members only,” displays to other shoppers that a business treats its returning customers well and creates a sense of exclusivity that is only afforded to repeat purchasers. Regardless of how it is presented, a loyalty program is an effective way for a company to benefit from a positive experience a new customer may have had during holiday shopping.
Creating an effective style of branding is another tool which can be used by small and local businesses alike in order to stand out to customers and create a memorable experience that goes beyond holiday shopping. Branding in a way that creates a sense of loyalty and identification among new customers can be achieved through various different methods and does not need to be confined to one specific technique.
Including free merchandise such as stickers or memorabilia with holiday purchases both reminds a buyer of a positive experience they may have had with a business during holiday shopping, reinforces a brand image or symbol that may be important for loyalty to one’s company, and can also serve as an advertisement throughout the next year. Free included items are just one way a business can leverage a sense of brand prestige and influence to both retain holiday customers and attract new ones.
Focus on the Experience
In an attempt to get both new and returning customers through the door during the holiday season, many businesses temporarily cut down prices and use large discounts to make their items or services more attractive. While this practice may be effective in the short term and is likely to gain a business a few more customers than it would have received through the use of regular prices, it is likely to result only in temporary revenue gains.
Instead of cutting prices during a short period of time at the end of the year, a business that focuses on providing its holiday shoppers with a memorable experience is much more likely to increase its gains overall throughout the coming year, in comparison to a price-slashing business.
An excellent example of a large business who executes this idea well is Walmart, where it is commonplace to be offered extra shopping assistance, toy demos, visits with Santa Claus, and a festive holiday atmosphere. When customers of Walmart enter into a store during the holiday season, they essentially walk into a complete holiday party. This type of experience is what creates an impactful memory that sticks with shoppers well past the holiday season and goes beyond simple discounts.
When it comes to the holiday season, many businesses look forward to capitalizing on a short period of increased sales either to pad annual revenues or make up for lost sales from the beginning of the year. While this short term mindset may temporarily attract customers looking for lower prices and good deals, it often fails to retain these shoppers’ business during the next year. By focusing on strategic branding, employing the use of loyalty programs, and providing shoppers with a memorable holiday experience, it is possible to keep holiday shoppers coming back to your business for the rest of the year.