Saturday, December 6, 2014

Motivating Santa’s Little Helpers

While Santa’s vertically challenged cobblers may be motivated entirely by ginger-snaps and eggnog the average holiday shopper requires a bit more coercing into order to fulfill their shopping wish lists at the local small business.

This week, let us discuss seven check points that will ensure your naughty and nice lists match up this Christmas Season.
Be Mobile. We live in the smartphone age and can no longer avoid the implications therein. Eight out of 10 shoppers will use their mobile devices to research products, services and stores before committing to purchase. Moreover, according to the 2014 IBM Holiday Predictions Report, “more than half (53%) of all online shopping traffic this [holiday] will originate from a mobile device.” Make sure your online presence is mobile friendly, up-to-date and easily accessible.
Email. Print advertisement may be on the decline as far as influence and the rise as far as cost but the trusty ole electronic mail is good way to reach potential and return customers.  Three-fourths of shoppers will follow an email to the originating website or social media, and a quarter of those follow-ups end with a transaction. Consider hosting a sweepstakes campaign this season; using the collected emails to market to customers year-round.
Ship freely. Free shipping is the number two factor (right after, you guessed it, price) in clinching that holiday online purchase. has set this bar in a difficult place for many small businesses to compete with but consider using a free shipping discount code or coupon to mitigate increased shipping costs. Many retailers also offer free in-store delivery/pickup for special order items, even after normal business hours.
Discount. With a shopping season opening during ‘black Friday’ is it any wonder consumers expect a good sale everywhere they go? Pick a few products with elastic margins and cut the price to bring customers in the door. Offer exclusivity in discounts, people love to feel special, like they are in on secret. Every receipt should offer a discount on ‘that next purchase.’

Socialize. Twitter, facebook, Pinterest et cetera.  Be social with your customers through the medium of their choice. Consider offering all facebook followers a special promotion from the page only. Tweet the deal of the hour. Pin the product of the week.
Promote. Celebrate your niche and pander to the folks that appreciate the products and services offered within that niche.  Do not go out of your way to offer a popular product that doesn’t match your brand just to get folks in the door. Include a small, branded, promotional gift for the shopper in each bag – something they can use every  day (like lip balm) or will hang in a conspicuous place (think fridge magnet or car freshener) to remind them of your shop.

Serve. What makes Plagman’s different from Walmart and Lowes. How does Bits of Yesterday differ from Ebay? What makes Betsy’s and the Prairie Porch stand apart from Hobby Lobby? The answer is first names and follow up. 

When people walk in the door they know the owner by their first name and are assured they have someone to go to if the purchase fails to meet expectations. Customers are willing to pay a bit more for something unique if they know the person they are buying from. If you, the entrepreneur, are not offering the best possible customer service you’re not providing the cost-differential required to make a repeat patron.  Offer a customer service survey with each transaction and follow the suggestions offered. 

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