With Christmas right around the corner, service based businesses everywhere are scratching their heads trying to get in on holiday spending. And why wouldn’t they? The holiday season has got our wallets out. I’d even be lying if I said I wasn’t eagerly anticipating my CyberMonday shipments as I write this.
A 2018 Gallup poll estimates that Americans will be spending on average $885 on gifts, with 33% spending more than $1000. That’s a lot of cash, much of which flows into malls, big box stores, and e-commerce websites like Amazon.
With all that spending on goods, it’s easy to feel left out when your business revolves around services. Decades of marketing and media has primed consumers to obsess over putting the perfect gift underneath the perfect tree.
That doesn’t mean your service based business can’t win over shoppers this holiday season. Here are some tips for making the most of the Christmas Cashflow:
1. Sell “Experiences” as Gifts!
When I asked my partner what the best gift I had ever gotten for him was, I was surprised that it was the first vacation that I booked for us. At the time I didn’t consider it a gift, I even asked him to cover his half of the expenses. But to him, since he didn’t have to deal with the stress of planning, it felt like I was whisking him away on an adventure.
You don’t have to be in the travel business to offer a gift like that. Think of services you offer that people would want to receive but might not want to plan. Afterall, an experience is much a more meaningful gift! Prepaid pampering at a spa? Yes please! Couples dance lessons? Sign me up! House cleaning service? Maybe not the most romantic gift in itself, but it’s the gift of giving someone their time back. Be creative, and help people treat their loved ones to your services. As a bonus, you could find new recurring customers this way.
2. Text Your Customers About Upcoming Promotions!
Just look at the craze surrounding Black Friday. People LOVE sales. If they feel they can get a deal by booking your service in December, do it. Since people are spending money left right and centre, people are going to be more price sensitive. That said, their wallets are open and everyone is looking to save. Give back to your customers this season by letting them prepay for services at a promotional price or entering them into a contest.
Use QuickConnect to get in touch with your customers even as they’re out shopping letting them know about your promotions. You’re much more likely to catch them on their phones than in their email inbox or the pile of flyers in their mailbox. Even the government is getting in on the phone based announcements, because it works!
Bonus points: Entice customers to buy a voucher for your service as a gift! This is a great way to catch last minute shoppers and take advantage of the gift giving mindset.
3. Send Your Best “Seasons Greetings” to Your Customers!
Tis the season for festive cards from every service you’ve subscribed to ever. Between the cute little card our vet addressed to our cat, and the card from my dentist sent wishing me “Season’s Greetings” while shaming me to book an appointment since it’s been more than 6 months, it’s practically an expectation to send a holiday message to your customers. And it should be! It’s a great way to strengthen your brand and stay top of mind. It shows customer you care.
Sending out industry related holiday cards is always a popular choice. But that’s really the bare minimum. Personalizing the cards by writing them by hand is always a good step to show customers that they’re worth your time. But if you really want your message and brand to be seen, you should make sure your digital channels are covered. Posting pictures of your decorated office or staff on social channels can help personalize your business and appeal to customers.
You can even take things a step further by sending your customers a holiday text message. Let’s be honest, cards are personal but that’s not how most people communicate these days. I’m already sending and receiving seasons greetings texts from my family, friends, former teachers and colleagues- why not my favourite local businesses? Bulk texting options like QuickConnect make it fast and easy to send a personalized message to your whole customer database. You can even schedule it to go out at a set date and time so the message feels more personal – you don’t even have to take time away from your own family’s celebrations, QuickConnect will do all the work for you!
4. Share Industry-Related Seasonal Tips on Your Website or Blog
If you have a blog with information about your industry or services, try making a seasonal post to engage your customer base. How do the holidays implicate your business? Are you a dentist who can publish content about how holiday sweets affect your teeth? Or a plumber who can share some tips about keeping your home warm and dry in the winter? The best part about curating some informative articles about your business and the holidays is that you can use it year after year to remind your customers why your business is important. A LocalSite website can help you get that set up, and an LocalSEO subscription can help you write content and get it seen on Google.
5. Encourage Referrals via Social Media
Tis the season to promote referrals and grow your customer base. Can you offer a gift card to people who refer a friend? Or offer a holiday themed service or giveaway? If so, you can take advantage of the season of giving by offering bonuses to customers who bring in a friend. People love getting free stuff for minimal work, so if you can use LocalReferrals to bring back your regular customers AND their friends, you’re able to grow your business while capitalizing on the holiday spending spree.
6. Give Back to The Community
With the holidays closing in, there are plenty of opportunities to give back to the community. Whether that’s a volunteering initiative or participating in a charity drive, small businesses are a cornerstone of the culture of the community. Because you’re right there in the neighborhood, there’s an unspoken expectation to participate in initiatives that help the community. Put a spotlight on all the good you’re doing on social media, and invite your neighbors and consumers to join. As a small business, your reputation is everything, so make sure you announce the impact of your initiatives on social media.
7. Make Sure You Have a Digital Catalog
Make sure your website is up to date to show what the services you offer are. The last thing you want is someone to seek you out to purchase a gift certificate or prepaid service only to find out that you no longer offer what they see on your website, or worse, that the order form is broken or non-existent.
There are already dozens of reasons its essential to have a modern and sleek looking website, but it’s even more important that it has the right information and that it functions as intended. While I’m normally a huge proponent of DIY, the last thing you want is to deter customers with a slow or unprofessional website.
LocalSite can help you build a business page that, as the name implies, leaves customers with a good first impression of your business. A LocalSite site can help you advertise your services, increase inbound appointments, and even show up higher in Google searches.
If you already have a good website, then that’s great! You just need to make sure you’re set up to capitalize on holiday shopping. Remember our first tip, about selling gift vouchers to be redeemed at a later date? Make sure you can sell those online to capture last minute shoppers! Inevitably, the post office is going to be inundated with e-commerce purchases, so setting up your website to send vouchers digitally will put you miles ahead of even the retail giants.
8. Target Ads to Seasonal Shoppers!
On the same note, make sure people can find your website! Starting the last week of November and lasting until December 23rd, search queries for “gifts” spike to their highest point all year. People want to know what to get their family, significant others, and coworkers, and many start with the search “gifts for ____”.
Take advantage of this popular search term with online ads. A LocalAds marketing specialist can help you pick out a few keywords related to your service and target shoppers who might be interested in giving your services as a gift. It can be tough navigating adwords, so trusting an expert who can help you get your website seen is a great way to get yourself out there in time for the holiday season. As a bonus, the next time “gifts for _____” will be popular is before Valentine’s day, so you can keep riding that momentum.
9. Grow Your Following With Contests!
Posting on social media is great and all, but you need a surefire way to grow your audience if you want to see the greatest return for your efforts. Holding a contest on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter is a great way to get the attention of your customers and encourage them to share.
In order to get mileage out of a contest, you need to set some rules for entry. A good place to start is to make any rewards only eligible to people who are following your page, who have liked your post, and have tagged a friend. This guarantees that you will show up in their feed, as well as the friend’s. Make sure any contest prizes are worth the time of people entering ; people won’t follow your page if there’s a just a small chance they can win $10, but they’re likely to be sold on prizes valued at $50 or more. You can also run contests that ask customers to share photos of their experience, or contests that offer additional entries for registering in an advocate referral program. The possibilities are practically endless!
And while you can deploy a contest any time during the year, you want to make sure you’re building hype for your brand when people are prepared to spend money around the holidays. Add a festive twist to your contest by announcing prize winners on Christmas day, that way it feels as though you’re giving them a Christmas present! Don’t worry about having to actually log in to social media on Christmas Day, there are plenty of options that allow you to schedule your post in advance!
10. Set up Impulse Buys and Gift Bundles at your Storefront
Like many other people, I often leave my hairdresser worrying that my hair will never look as good on a regular day as it does right after getting it cut or blow dried. My stylist, however, is convinced it’s not just technique and partially due to product. Of course I’m not going to achieve salon results with the cheapo hairspray I chose for the packaging, I would have way better results if I use the one my stylist recommended for my specific hair type. After all, she’s the expert.
And while I might not buy the recommended products after every visit to the salon, Christmas is the best time of year to offer them. Not only can those impulse buys make great gifts, there is a definite focus on looking good for Christmas photos and New Year’s Eve parties. See if your wholesalers are offering any holiday gift bundles for extra flair!
Even outside the beauty industry, post-service impulse purchases can work in any service with a store front. If you’re healthcare, make sure any products you offer for hygiene or health maintenance are merchandised attractively and mentioned during your services. Same for fitness, where there’s natural opportunity to sell branded merchandise that compliments your class offerings such as water bottles and yoga mats.
Bonus Points: even if you don’t make the sale now, you’ve planted the seed for the future, your customers might come back to browse merchandise or make a purchase next time they get a service.
11. Don’t Forget About New Year’s!
New year, new you! Don’t skimp out on this occasion just because there are no New Year’s carols you can play in your store. Since New Years is more secular, you have an opportunity to reach out to a wider audience than just those spending for Christmas.
Since New Year’s means parties, it also means photos. People are looking to be the best version of themselves and to host parties at the most attractive version of their house.Remember, people aren’t interested in specific features or benefits, they’re interested in being the best version of themselves. You can help your customers look fresh for the New Year!
New Year’s also brings in a season of resolutions, in which people are open to trying new services to improve their life. Although, Gym Memberships tend to spring to mind, people make all sorts of resolutions to improve their health, wellness, and lifestyle. Try to segment that group of your customers so you can keep in touch with them and help them follow through on their goals. You can use LocalContacts to segment customers into those groups and stay in touch with QuickConnect to help check in on their goals. By doing this not only are you driving repeat business, but you’re showing your customers that you care and that your service is high value. These measures are great because they can help generate positive online reviews and increase your NPS score.
12. Welcome Walk-Ins!
Look, the holidays are exhausting. While visions of sugar plums may dance through the heads of children nestled all snug in their beds, nightmares of endless gift wrapping and cooking for large family gatherings haunt many adults. If you offer a service relevant to exhausted shoppers, make sure you advertise it, especially if your storefront is in close proximity to a shopping centre! We’re all out to have a happy holiday, so make sure your storefront is inviting for people to pop in between shopping trips!