Is it just me or does marketing for the holidays come earlier each year? If I am a bystander of overwhelming advertising that means someone on the other end selling to me is getting their game together for holiday sales. Small business owners across the country, running their dream businesses on digital storefronts, bustle to begin to create product inventory, plan holiday markets and lock in marketing campaigns.
For a lot of you entrepreneurs and solopreneurs, you will be competing with the likes of Amazon et al. for consumer shopping dollars. So how do you get ready to run with the big dogs?
- Focus on Marketing Hype: Take a trick out of the Amazon playbook and use some hype similar to Amazon Prime Day this past July 16th. Which, by the way, was bigger than any other hyped sale. I’m sure whoever came up with that idea received a hefty bonus, unless it was Bezos himself. As with Amazon, find a few products to pitch ahead of major shopping days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Use email marketing and social ads to drive ideal shoppers to early deals. Those that come as a result can see what you will be offering on the deal day itself. You can then target emails to those who have already been to the site to get them back for the big sale day.
- Shipping is Key to Success: Having Amazon Prime is like being Pavlov’s dog. You press the “Buy Now” button and you begin to salivate. You are now classically conditioned in the psychologic sense to expect that package to be on your doorstep in 2 days. So, if your holiday shipping doesn’t get there quickly through a Star Trek transporter, you will lose sales. Don’t have your clients fumbling to type in 20 digit shipping code numbers only to find that their “gotta have now” purchase is in a warehouse in Idaho. You’re starting to get the picture. Lucky for you there is shipping technology for small businesses that has evolved dramatically in the past year through simplified software like Shippo and ShipStation. If you plan to ship yourself and use the big 3, USPS, UPS and FedEx, know their shipping schedules.
- Take Advantage of last-minute Shoppers: Amazon does. If one finds himself with only days before a holiday gift is needed, Amazon Prime is the first thing that comes to mind. This tactic is one that small businesses can use to boost sales in the holiday homestretch as well. Pick out a product category that isn’t present or popular on Amazon or the like, and market it heavily via email and social media. Have the shipping prepared with a guaranteed delivery date and you will find sales. Panic buying is real and can be lucrative.
While there are many lessons to learn from Amazon’s tactics, you should also tout the things that make your business unique and original from the big-box products of the world. A handwritten note inside the box is a nice touch, or perhaps a personal message of what inspired you to launch this business on your website. These give shoppers an original online shopping experience that they can only find by supporting your small business.