Be Social For The Holidays—And Beyond!
Today’s retail market is ever evolving, and it seems like every single day brings a new challenge. From availability issues due to shipping delays to restricted traffic count inside of your store, chances are you’re facing a holiday season unlike any other. Instead of setting up a remarkable Christmas tree display, you’re setting out what seems like the five-thousandth bottle of hand sanitizer and going back over your social distancing marks on the floor in front of your register. The only way to remain volatile in this harsh COVID market is to put yourself in front of your customers before they ever step foot in your store. Better yet, get their attention while they least expect it through a digital media strategy that lures customers both online and in person.
As a business, whether you offer online shopping or not, the holidays are a prime opportunity to stash some money away to help you weather the more challenging financial times before spring arrives. You can create a financial cushion, and it doesn’t have to be limited to devoting a chunk of parking lot real estate to a tree lot, either! There are multitudes of holiday ideas that can weave both profits and foot traffic to your store without breaking the bank but are useless unless your target audience can see them. Developing a hearty holiday section on your website, social media page, and email campaign can remind your customers that you’re open and ready for business for the holidays!
Social Media Can Make Your Holiday Season!
Having a social media page like Instagram can be a valuable tool in getting store-specific information out to your clients. Still, it can take you a step further when it is combined with customer interaction. Simple math can help us break this down:
If Aunt Sue shares one post with your name, 250 people see it. Among those people, four people share it (because it’s just so cute). That broadcasts your little holiday display to 1,000 people that might not have known you exist otherwise.
Suddenly, when a generation of people come across a photo of their Aunt Sue on Instagram, they’ll also see your business name. Your name could pique interest and drive a whole crowd of foot traffic to your location, even if it’s just for gift shopping alone.
Holiday gift-giving is difficult, and those who lack imagination when it comes down to conquering this task often turn to social media to learn a little more about those they’re shopping for. Let’s take Aunt Sue, for example. If she’s been in your store five times over the course of the year and has checked-in on Facebook, that will show up plain as day on her profile page. Anyone shopping for her can see that she’s a fan and would love just about anything from your store. That’s when you take it a step further. Create a “gift shop” in your store for shoppers looking for a grab-and-go gift. All of a sudden, that one gift turns into gifts for the whole family! That poinsettia for Aunt Sue turns into a bird feeder for Mom and a compost tumbler for Dad—all because of one selfie Aunt Sue did.
Turn Holiday Foot Traffic Into Residual Customers
One of the saddest things about the holiday season can be tearing down and packing away the festive decorations that instill so much warmth and cheer in people. This can easily be seen in any given city with the temporary tents that pop up in vacant lots selling Christmas trees. Eventually, these tree lots dissolve back into the vacancy that suits them and any hint of holiday cheer disappears like the flakes that fall too early in autumn. Capitalize on the fact that you’re going to be there for your customers during their time of holiday need, but also during their spring flower fling. Don’t let that temporary tent get the corner on your holiday market. Make sure the world knows that you’re going to ready for the holidays, and then some!
Start by providing the public something that they cannot receive anywhere else. Depending on your geographic location, this could be as easy as filling in this blank: “You can’t have the holidays without ____.” If you’re in Florida, invest in some fake snow and create a beautiful backdrop for families to take their holiday photo in front of. If you’re in areas of the desert Southwest, where vegetation is limited, truck in fabulous conifers to create the mock North Pole. The kids will love the concept of “South-North Pole,” complete with a little shed that says “Santa’s Summer Home” and a directional marker that points north (to the real North Pole.)
If you’re looking to kick it up a notch, have a staff member attending whatever holiday station you decide to create to answer questions and guide customers in the right direction. As these customers soak up the holiday cheer, slip them a coupon for $5 off any springtime purchase. This little token will show that you’ll take care of them not only during the holiday money grab but also when the chaos dies down, and things are a bit more relaxed. This can easily be coupled with a hashtag campaign, which will result in multitudes of organic traffic to your site.
Avoid the Stereotypical Static On Your Digital Media
Although the prominent placement of holiday promotions on your digital media is essential, it should not distract from your business mission statement’s overall direction. Distracting banners and holiday static can cheapen your website and create a busy environment that can lessen your website’s overall message or social media page. Create a unique holiday brand for yourself and set yourself in front of your competition, not just your employees in reindeer ears from the local discount store. Map out a month of both in-house and in-store holiday fun to create a cross-pollination campaign between physical traffic and digital traffic.
- A holiday advent calendar countdown that includes gardening tasks AND gifts that are practical to use while performing said tasks.
- Crafting with everyday garden objects will inspire and lure customers who need that last element to finish the craft (there is a recent craze for a hanging branch decor—which is any evergreen tied to the wall with twine). Etsy is a great place to start for ideas!
- Themed shopping events for specific gift shoppers such as a “husband shop night” where customers can have a personal shopper walk them through and help them pick out the best gift.
The goal with these events, and any other you may dream up, is to create a social media buzz around what you have to offer. Every day you can build up to the “biggest gardening task of them all,” which will arrive on Christmas. People will be drawn to your social media to follow the prescribed garden tasks and reminded daily that your store is ready to help them choose the best gift possible. The same goes for crafting and themed events!
Optimize the Holiday Season
The year 2020 has dealt with some very unique cards when it comes to the retail business. What used to be the high-water mark of revenue, Black Friday, is now becoming just another day on the calendar as many major retailers have opted to start promotions early. In some cases, these promotions have already been running for a month or more. This surprising tactic can leave smaller businesses struggling to compete. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to present a solid business storefront on every digital marketplace possible. As your customers are cruising through the Eddie Bauer gift guide, make sure that their email box is pinged with a gift guide of your own. With a little bit of planning, your gift guide can not only create a buzz around your store but also drive traffic to items often overlooked in the winter.
As you create your gift guide, perform an inventory of your products, and move what has remained relatively stagnant. Those plant markers that were supposed to be a big hit last spring but only collected dust could make the perfect gift. Birdbaths that have sat overlooked can become hot items when featured in your gift guide with a slight “holiday” discount. The perk of promoting these slow-moving items to gift buyers is that they’re not shopping for themselves! The intrinsic satisfaction of buying a gift far overwhelms the practicality (most of the time), and if you can market those items through a gift guide, the quicker you’ll be rid of them. Even if it means just breaking even to get rid of them, the holidays are an excellent time to purge your sales floor of older products to make room for newer spring lines to take their place.
Scheduling posts, running promotions, publishing emails, and updating your website can all take a significant toll on a person. Trying to do all of those tasks vital to running a healthy business during the holidays is even more challenging. Don’t allow screen time to cut into your overall enjoyment of the season. Let Bloom Digital Marketing help you develop a strategy that fits your business and budget!
Nikki Weed has been in and around garden centers for more than half of her life. Starting at an incredibly young age, she realized she was drawn to horticulture and even more towards the business aspect of it. Her accolades include writing for Garden Center Magazine, being a keynote speaker for countless garden shows, and 20 years of footwork in garden centers. She spends her time growing tomatoes in the desert, unsuccessfully, and hiking the mountains of Arizona.