The last three months of the year are commonly referred to as the 4th Quarter, and as the year nears a close businesses need to close out strong! Depending on your business type, the next several weeks will require some different strategies to enhance sales, traffic, and profitability. Some unique economic challenges may provide some opportunities for your business to use innovative tactics to boost sales. Let’s cover some opportunities/challenges that smart businesses will take advantage of over the next few months.
- For venues, some holiday parties are back on the menu.- The last year and a half hasn’t been kind to event venues, but with more staff vaccinations and the ability to space out activities, some businesses and organizations are looking for limited holiday get together activities. If your business wants to act as a host, the time to get the information out is RIGHT NOW.
- Retailers, capitalization on events is back in a limited fashion.- Before 2020 hit, planning around community events to drive extra traffic was a simple strategy. An event draws a lot of people to the community (or right in front of your business) and you have to communicate with those attendees to draw them in. Although we aren’t necessarily expecting 2019 numbers at upcoming events, your business still needs to have a strategy in place to convert attendees to customers.
- Service sector businesses need to communicate your necessity.- Pandemic weirdness has impacted family legal strategies, investment opportunities, tax liability, insurance needs, and much more. Service businesses need to provide information in a number of different formats to their current and prospective clients prior to holiday “get togethers” when family decisions are made. A combination of physical information (brochures, letters, booklets, etc.) and digital information (include a QR code that links back to your website on print materials, AND provide some interactive items on your web site).
- Restaurants can provide holiday meal relief, game day experiences, gift certificate swag, and catering help.- The day before Thanksgiving is typically one of the biggest restaurant days of the year. People don’t want to cook right before they spend the day cooking. Some people are using football games to socialize within their bubble with catered food. Holiday get togethers can be a catering opportunity for restaurants. Gift certificates to local restaurants/bars can make fantastic office exchange gifts or stocking stuffers. The general public needs to hear the aforementioned suggestions from you if you want to become their “go to” for everything we just mentioned.
- Supply chain issues mean pushing “off the shelf” or gift certificates.- This one is a little tricky, because supply chain issues are hitting everyone. This year, the closer you get to Christmas, the more you can press for shopping “off the rack” or “off the shelf”. You don’t want to get too overt to early or you might simply end up reminding people to shop online earlier than normal, but as you hear about consumer issues with shipping getting more prevalent, you need to emphasize in-store product availability. For small businesses that typically don’t try to turn their inventory every month (like a big box or some chains), this could be a year where your on-site inventory acts as a competitive advantage as Christmas approaches. Make sure your return/exchange policy is clearly stated on receipts and in the store.
- Target your customers with special events.- You should be keeping track of your customers in formats that allow you to reach out to them directly. If you have a special product or service, launch it with a special event or notification to your top customers. If there is another event in town that is drawing consumers to your area, have a special activity or “host party” for customers. Create a shopping night for your VIP’s (or their spouses/family). Push virtual and in-store “wish lists”. The more your best customers feel appreciated, the more they will provide “word of mouth advertising” for your business during the holiday season.
- Top of mind awareness requires traditional and social media advertising.- These strategies don’t mean anything if your customers don’t know about them. Work with local media outlets to get a well crafted and targeted message out to your target audience. Supplement your polished traditional media messages with fun and “behind the scenes” looks through social media. You need to up your advertising game to push customers to you this year.
- Create marketing nodes with your business friends.- The ability to cross promote with information, merchandise, prizes, and other incentives at other businesses in your relative vicinity is an easy way to promote more traffic and sales. If your neighbor is having a late night shopping event for their best customers, donate a prize (ask them to do the same for you). Ask if businesses will help promote your internal activities, as you do the same for them. Cross promotions keep your customers close, and may help you identify new customers in the immediate area.
- Focus on making the holidays merry and bright for your staff.- Hours during the holiday season get longer; the customers can sometimes get a little difficult; and many businesses are already short staffed. You need a plan to make the work place more enjoyable this holiday season for your entire staff. Start by simply asking your staff for ideas. Music, food, gift exchanges, more schedule flexibility, other incentives??? You won’t know what your staff values until you ask. A quality staff that is in good spirits provides a better customer experience, and if the customers are in a better frame of mind sales will increase.
- Find a way to give back.- One of the ways you can make both staff and the consuming public feel better about supporting your business is to support a local cause. Find a non-profit that fits what your business does, and figure out a way to act as an item collection point, donate a percentage of sales on a certain day, or host some other sort of activity. When you work with organizations that represent your customers and your company ethos, you can give back while also gaining community support.
Working your business to achieve better results for you and your staff requires solid strategies and buy in from your team. Your internal communication with your staff, your marketing efforts with advertising partners, and your cooperation with other local businesses can help you succeed this year. Are you prepared for 4th quarter?