Small business expecting a holiday sales boost may need to tweak their expectations.
A majority of consumers said they plan to spend the same or less this holiday season than they did the last, according to a survey released this week by Pitney Bowes. Of the 1,000 consumers surveyed, 52% said they would spend the same as last holiday season while 32% said they would spend less.
“The next 45 days are arguably the most important 45 days in the year for small and medium-size businesses” Pitney Bowes vice president Jeff Crouse said at the Customer Magnet Series small business event in New York.
While the survey results seem to indicate an uphill battle for small businesses to reach customers during the holidays, companies still have time to employ creative strategies to ensure a holiday boost, according to Crouse.
For example, Crouse said the holiday season offered small businesses “a better opportunity than the rest of the year” to use their list of existing customers.
“Now is the time to reintroduce yourself to the customer,” Crouse said. “Send three or four holiday emails, remind them of experiences they’ve had, be prepared to have an email marketing program ready to go right now.”
Crouse added that if you’re planning on holding a significant holiday event, it’s as important to use the event to help marketing efforts throughout the year. “If you’ve got a major sale or additional traffic during the holidays, you’ve got to be capturing those names or Twitter handles.”
Also at the event was Tim Freeth, head of industry at Google, who said that small business owners need to ensure that they have a rich and relevant website that is viewable on mobile devices.
“Increasingly we’re seeing more traffic come from mobile devices, so I really encourage (small business owners) to think about the mobile website experience that you are delivering to your consumers,” Freeth said.
While panelists emphasized the use of social media to help drive holiday sales, Misty Young, founder of Reno, Nevada-based Squeeze In Diners, said she complemented efforts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with postcards and direct mail.
Crouse said that this strategy could prove effective for small businesses competing with “big box” retailers.
“Direct mail costs more but it has more impact, particularly for local and small businesses," Crouse said. “The way you communicate with your customers will be different than how Costco communicates with their customers."