As people take down their decorations and children sadly trudge off to school, it is all to clear that the magic of the holiday season has left for another year. The only people more disappointed that children returning from vacation are the business owners who months of bustling holiday sales figures plunge to their lowest rates of the year. In some respects, it’s impossible for retailers to have the same effect on consumers once the holidays have passed, but this doesn’t mean they have give up their customers attention without a fight. Here are four quick strategies that businesses can use to keep their business hot at the start of the year.
Use Timeline Promotions
Promotions are always a good way to generate interest in an organization, but the timing at the beginning of the year couldn’t be better. Simple engagement and timeline promotions (e.g. Like or Tweet-based contests) are easy and expensive to run. Most retailers have some stock leftover from the holidays that they need to get rid of; these makes for great prizes (and tax-deductible expenses). Additionally, people are low on money following the holidays, so many people aren’t looking to buy things, but they will pay attention to a brand that is giving away prizes. As a final bonus, contests helps business owners keep customers who recently bought from them engaged with the company.
As was discussed in a recent article on this blog, a business’s website is a valuable asset and the way it looks and runs tells people a lot about the business itself. For example, MarginMedia reported that “48% of users say that if they arrive on a business site that isn’t working well on mobile, they take it as an indication of the business simply not caring”. Besides optimizing a website for mobile devices, businesses can also make their sites responsive (so that they can be easily viewed on half screen). Most users, 90 percents by some estimates, use multiple screens and windows when working. Sites that require the user to view the site at full size for it to function properly risk losing visitors. Redesigning a site also makes old information fresh and new again. Visitors who may have already visited links on the old will come back to see the redesign and check for new information.
Host an Event
Because there is normally little going on in January, the start of the new year is a great time to promote a business through events. People are looking for things to do and savvy business owners can fill that void and market their businesses at the same time. Health fairs, decorating open houses, fashion shows and even small social gatherings line wine tastings, are all types of events that attract people and publicity at a time when business are working to gain the attention of advertising and shopping weary consumers. For online businesses, webinars and Google Hangouts can have a similar effect. Events can be helpful or businesses in multiple ways besides the obvious benefit of publicity. They can be used to educate the audience; there are lead generation opportunities; it positions the company as an industry leader, and allows business owners to connect with other potential partners like distributors.
Initiate Loyalty Rewards Programs
Another way that business owners can capitalize on the new customers they made during the holidays is to initiate loyalty and rewards programs. For brick and mortar stores, loyalty programs can reward customers who refer new clients (e.g. Save $25 when you refer a friend) or who come in for service for a certain period (e.g. Every fifth cup of coffee is free). For online companies, loyalty programs can be used to encourage website visits, social sharing, and standard referrals. The benefit of this tactic is two fold. First, it encourages current customers to come back more often. Sometimes, all it takes is a small nudge to spur consumers to action. Second, loyalty programs spread the word about a company. In some cases, this is the direct goal of the program, but even if it’s not, people will talk about the companies that give them rewards. And it’s likely there friends will visit the site just so they can take advantage of the rewards program as well. People do use these programs. There are more than 2 billion loyalty program memberships in the U.S. and the average household is active in more than 8 programs.
A common maxim of business professionals everywhere is to “turn every weakness into a strength”. Though the months between January and March are traditionally the weakest time for retail, this fact alone means there are opportunities for the business owners and marketers who can think of ways to reach and inspire audiences. Even if these tactics don’t dramatically increase the sales during this period (people have spent much of their money on the holidays after all), these techniques will at least increase an organization’s fan base and increase brand awareness which will lead to higher profits in the near future.