If you’re a small business owner, I know the busy-ness is ramping up for Q4. And if you wear multiple or ALL of the hats (CEO, CMO, COO, etc.), then you will quickly feel overwhelmed if you don’t already feel that way. So much to do, and so little time – am I right?
Sorry to burst your bubble, but to be real, you’re not going to be able to do it all. There is always more you can do to grow your business, but if you’re running solo, you’ll have to carefully pick what to focus on. Here are 7 actions I recommend you to take before the holiday rush begins, that will drive results.
Make sure your value proposition is clear
Why should customers buy from you and not the competition? Make sure you are clear on this yourself, then make sure your audience knows.
For example, here is what Do Good Paper Co. offers: beautiful paper products that do you and the world some good. And one particular thing we make crystal clear to our customers is that we give back. So, on our homepage, we tell our customers that we donate a portion of all online sales to 10,000 Trees.
If you haven’t already done so, use all your channels to remind customers why they should buy from you.
- Communicate your value proposition on your website somewhere easy to find
- Include it in your Instagram profile and make at least one post about it in the next week
- If you send welcome emails to new subscribers, include verbiage about your value prop in your email body
Check that your pricing is right
As a new business, entrepreneurs often feel that they need to price low to get the sale. However, ensuring that you have enough of a margin from the outset is very important. Aim for 50% margins.
If you price correctly, you will be able to do sales and promotions, invest in advertising, and be prepared for all kinds of unforeseen events.
Unless your differentiator from the competition is price, which is probably untrue for multiple reasons if you’re a small business, then make sure you place the appropriate value on your time and your product offerings. Remember, lowering prices later on is much easier than raising them.
- Research prices and promotions of your competitors to see what’s out there
- Check all your margins with this formula ‘(revenue-cost)/revenue’ to see if there is an opportunity to increase your prices now
- If you can spare the time, create a pricing sheet that includes all of your products, their retail prices, costs, margins and wholesale prices if you sell wholesale. This will be an invaluable document to have on-hand for marketing planning
Plan ahead! Develop a marketing calendar
When you have a billion and one things to do on a daily basis, make sure that marketing planning is at the top of your list right now. This is something that you would have done ideally at the start of your fiscal year and continue to update throughout the year; but if you haven’t, now is a great time to create a marketing calendar. Plan and space out all the campaigns you want to run leading up to, during and after the holiday blitz.
Once you have figured out all your campaigns, you then have to plan out how exactly you’re going to execute them. Think of all the marketing collateral to create for the channels where you’ll promote them, your e-store, photography, pricing strategy, etc.
- Find a marketing calendar online or email us for our template and turn it into your calendar. At this point, just focus on the next 3 months.
- Consider including these campaigns: email capture campaign (more about this later on), group giveaway, pre-Black Friday sale, Black Friday Cyber Monday offers, holiday promos, and post-holiday clearance
- Get a LISTS Spiral Notepad to list out every single tactic (shameless plug because it works!)
Build and grow your email list
Email is still king, providing the highest ROI of all your marketing efforts. Google it if you don’t believe me. And my current personal experience with Do Good Paper Co. proves this to be true. Keep in mind that customers who subscribe choose to do so (yay!), but they also need time to get to know your brand. Give them the opportunity now to do that so they are ready to convert when your promotions begin.
If you haven’t already done so, find a platform you are comfortable with, such as Mailchimp or Seguno in Shopify (that’s what we use) and create your branded email templates. Next, give prospects an incentive to subscribe and ensure that the method of signing up is easy.
- Create an attractive limited-time incentive (our welcome offer is normally 10% off the first purchase, but we recently ran a one-week campaign offering 25% off)
- Add a sign-up form (and a pop-up window) right on your website’s homepage, and include the offer wording
- Promote your special offer on social media
Attract traffic before the holiday rush
As a small business, it will be hard for you to compete with bigger brands during peak holiday season. So, it is crucial that you try to get some early sales. You know the marketing calendar we were talking about in #3?... that’s where you want to plan out your activities to make this happen.
There are so many promo ideas, but I suggest these two:
- Pre-sale of new products or limited-edition items – Secure some sales now by offering something that won’t be available later on. For example, if you are dropping a new product soon, execute a pre-sale campaign with a special offer to build hype and interest. Or, if you can offer a limited-edition item, make sure that you communicate a clear end-date or available quantity so that customers feel the urgency to purchase now. As long as they buy once and are satisfied, there is a good chance they’ll buy again.
- Early access to Black Friday deals – whatever it is you’re planning to offer for Black Friday, offer it to your email subscribers first! Subscribers stay on the list if they feel valued and have access to exclusive deals.
There are 2 main reasons for creating bundles. The first is to have unique offerings for your customers and the second is to grow your cart. Everyone likes a good deal, and bundles usually offer savings. Sometimes, they just don’t know what to get for gifts. Make it easy for them and attract them with a unique bundle that offers great value. This is also a great way to increase your average bundle size at this time of the year. There are other ways to upsell, but bundling is fun and gives you the opportunity to show how well your products go together.
- Decide on the appropriate price points (and don’t be afraid to offer a premium bundle at a higher price), and create 1-3 bundles with the various products you offer. Consider aesthetics, product mix and margins. See if your customers can save 20-30% by opting for a bundle.
- Take great photos and videos of your bundles (phone camera is totally fine!)
- Promote your bundles on your website, email and social media channels
Prep your website
You have done so much work to attract new customers and engage existing ones. Now they’re on your website and the shopping experience is so great, that you can just hear the ching-ching’s rolling in. That’s the goal, right?
Again, there are many things you can do, but here are a few sure-bets to do right now:
- Get a full report from Google on how your website is performing by visiting g.co/growmystore. This is a free tool and it provides so many suggestions on how to improve your website.
- After you receive the report, prioritize a couple changes that you can make right away
- Add a search bar if you don’t already have one. It makes it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for and gives you valuable insights when you review popular search terms.
- Add tags to all of your products, so that customers can filter by popular tags. Think like the customer… how do they categorize your products in their mind? Something we recently added are price ranges, so that customers can quickly browse what’s available for their budget.
- Ask a few friends to test your site and get their feedback. We tend to build things according to our own preferences, which may or may not be what your customers’ preferences are or what’s best for business.
Bonus Tip: Collaborate with other businesses
First off, the small business community is wonderfully supportive, and it’s just fun to collaborate with other business owners. But there is also a real tangible benefit to doing so, and that is widening your reach. Try a group giveaway to help each other grow Instagram followers, or purchase from one another to create the bundles I mentioned above. Guest post for each other’s blog – this helps them out and over time can help your SEO rankings. Get creative, and reach out to me any time you want to explore ideas to collaborate with Do Good Paper Co.!
Let me know if you like my 7 tips for small businesses, and good luck! May you all have a blissful season that is filled with success, good health and joy.