For many small business owners, ‘tis the season to be stressed.
If you’re in retail, hospitality, the food industry, or arts and crafts, this time of year is probably your busiest.
Shops are open longer, deadlines for goods or services are tight, and, of course, staff need time off to celebrate with their loved ones.
Couple that with your own family commitments, and December can feel like we’re all running on a festive hamster wheel.
Yet it’s important to remember that Christmas is a time to recognise the efforts of staff, suppliers, and the loyalty of your customers.
There is an important opportunity which should not be missed – the chance to spread goodwill to those who make your business a success.
It’s all about reinforcing those bonds of community between you and your customers, making them feel an important party of your ‘family’.
That’s the kind of relationship which will encourage them to come back for more, and choose your business over your competitors.
It’s the sort of relationship which inspires people to choose small over big business, to shop locally.
Big businesses spend millions on getting that feelgood factor in their Christmas offerings – take the case of the John Lewis Man In The Moon advert.
You don’t have to spend a large amount to spread a little goodwill and Christmas cheer. You just have to say: “Thank you.”
Here are some relatively cheap things you can do:
Send a real Christmas card.
I know ecards are green and cheaper, but you can’t hang them on a string or stand them on your mantelpiece. Personally written and signed cards are a great way to thank your good customers or suppliers, and, of course, your staff. Finding the time to write them will pay dividends for your word of mouth in the long term. Have a very special customer or two? You could send them a box of cupcakes or handmade chocolates alongside your card.
Put some festive goodwill into your website.
A Christmas image and greeting, and a thank you to any customers who view it, are the sort of touches they will remember and appreciate in 2016.
Make a Christmas ‘thank you’ graphic or video.
Perhaps you could make a festive graphic which incorporates some of the successes you’ve had in 2015, how many customers you’ve had, and which thanks those customers for their part in your success story. Share it widely on social media. If you have a little more time, make a thank you video, or put together some of videos from events you’ve attended in 2015 with a thank you message on the end. Share on sites like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Write a Christmas blog.
Let your customers know they’re important to you even though you’re at your busiest. Tell them how you’ve prepared for the Christmas rush, give them some Christmas tips from your field (if you’re in the food business, give them one of your festive recipes, for example), tell them about events you’ve attended, include some yuletide images. If you’ve had good feedback from a customer, share it with them, and tell them how much that means to you. If you’re in retail, tell them how you choose your Christmas tunes for your store. Get interactive on social media and ask them to recommend their own favourites. If you don’t have the time to do it yourself, consider outsourcing your blog. Share your blog on social media.
Thank you for reading, and have a merry Christmas!