Once the hectic holiday shopping sales season passes and people settle into the new year, as a small business owner, you might find customer traffic dipping down to a point where working capital begins to become a problem. With so many people having drained their bank accounts and maxed out their credit cards, enticing these individuals to continue patronizing your establishment can be a difficult endeavor. After no doubt experiencing a considerable spike in sales during the holiday season, it can come as quite a shock if revenue suddenly starts shrinking up come January.
To avoid succumbing to this new-year slump, consider the following five strategies for attracting those post-holiday shoppers:
- Align marketing techniques
As the year wraps up and a new one begins, take advantage of the shift in customers’ mindset that accompanies this transition. With the holiday parties and festivities in the rearview mirror, people turn their attention toward getting fit, preparing their taxes and attempting to stick to their resolutions.As Kissmetrics noted, by tailoring marketing efforts to align with this change in thinking, you can better cater your offerings to these individuals. Small business owners should focus on promoting items that support organization, productivity, cleanliness, safety and exercise, since these are all areas of interest post-holiday shoppers are looking for.
- Reward loyal customers
Now is a great time to send out thank-you emails and other promotional materials with special incentives to reward loyal customers for an exclusive period following the holidays, noted Tim Peter, president of ecommerce and marketing consultants Tim Peter & Associates, in CIO.com. This strategy builds on the goodwill of the season and shows shoppers you appreciate their business.”The concept appeals to customers much like a flash sale would,” explained Peter. “And you can extend the reach of the promotion by asking your customers to share these deals with their friends and family.”
By creating and sustaining this ongoing relationship with the customer, you can keep your company in the front of shoppers’ mind when they recuperate from the holidays and get back to shopping.
- Turn returns into sales
One of the most frustrating parts of the post-holiday experience can be the return process. No matter how diligently people shop for loved ones and friends, the simple fact is that exchanges and returns are an unavoidable phenomenon in the days and weeks following Christmas.During this time, tension and animosity can run high, making it an unpleasant affair for all involved. Customers may find they aren’t guaranteed a refund or the item they want to exchange is no longer in stock. Companies have to deal with logistical messes, bottlenecks in supply chains and a surge in customer complaints.
However, with top-notch customer service and a plain-language, consistent return policy, you can broaden these transactions to include additional sales. Although employees might be burned out after a stressful holiday shopping season, it’s important to make sure these important aspects of the customer-service relationship are also rewarded and incentivized.
- Experiment and innovate
With many would-be customers forsaking shopping after the holiday spending spree, now is a good time to try out something completely different from business as usual. Hear about a quirky experimental marketing campaign you want to try? Waiting for the right time to test out a new sales technique? Thinking of rebranding the business? Considering introducing a risky new product?Attempting something new and innovative at the start of the year provides ample time to recover later down the road, so consider introducing a different tactic or approach to test the market and customer reaction. This could be the big break you need to gain that crucial competitive edge and truly see the growth you’ve been seeking. Be careful though, since you don’t want to over-invest in something that backfires.
- Alternative financing
In some instances, no matter what you do to boost those post-holiday sales, the numbers get sluggish. When email blasts, special promotions and impeccable customer service fail to produce the necessary bump in the new year, it can be tough on the budget and even rougher on the business.Instead of panicking at the first sign of a sales dip, this new year might be the time to consider alternative financing options. With quick and easy access to a variety of online funding choices, you can alleviate the pressures of low revenue inflows and inject the crucial capital back into the business. You can even make use of this money for remodeling, technology investments or replenishing inventory depleted during the holiday shopping season.
Indeed, if business is slow during January and February, it’s a prime opportunity to take advantage of the many benefits associated with obtaining a small business loan from an alternative lender to make the upgrades or renovations you’ve been too busy to implement. Sometimes a bit of downtime and a fresh re-launch can go a long way toward rejuvenating customer traffic.