Just moments ago it was Halloween and yet here we are in the final few days of what is usually the largest buying time of the year. How is it shaping up for your area? If you’re worried, we’ve got three big ways to help small business members of your chamber of commerce have their biggest and best December yet.
According to the National Retail Federation, 196.7 million shoppers turned out from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday this year. This topped 2021’s number of 179 million. That’s a significant increase when you factor in how much more expensive things are this year over last.
While this number does not factor in sales (merely how many people went shopping), the NRF still anticipates spending will be higher than last year. The good news is that people are out there and they’re looking for gifts and services that provide excellent value.
But that also doesn’t mean your members can now just “coast” to a successful holiday shopping season. There’s still a lot of work to be done. And you can help small business members make this one of their strongest holiday seasons yet.
Here are three big ways — along with specific tactics — you can help your members have a successful holiday season.
How to Help Small Business Members
Want to help your member businesses get a lot of buying attention over Small Business Season? Of course you do but we know you’re busy too so we selected some of the most impactful ways to help. These tips were written for your chamber, but you could easily share them individually with the businesses as well to help them gain more customers.
In any business environment, the largest challenge to sales is helping to ensure the ideal customer thinks about the business. If that business is not on their mind, they won’t be spending money. As a visible and well-known group in your community, you are able to help small businesses build that top-of-mind awareness. Additionally, visitors to your community may stop by the chamber office or visit the chamber website to see holiday events and business happenings.
There are several ways you can leverage the power of your audience to help small businesses but the key to doing that successfully is to always consider the needs of the audience. Blasting out announcements with little context will become tiresome. Instead, you need to add context to everything you are sharing.
What’s in it for Them?
One way to add context is to specifically address what’s in it for the buyer. Why is this a good deal? What will they receive by doing this? How will they benefit? If businesses ask you to promote something for them, add as much context as possible. For instance, if a restaurant is offering a delivery special, you might add that it is an easy way to feed those unexpected guests quickly. Anticipate what the audience needs and show how your member is solving a problem.
You needn’t come up with marketing strategies for every one of the businesses in town. If they are advertising with you or are one of your sponsors, you could ask them to tell you what problem they solve for their customers.
Who Does it Best Fit?
This is another way for people to quickly self-identify a product or service as being something they need. When you call out a group or type of person in your post, you call to the forefront a need they may be struggling with. For instance, “Looking for a gift for someone who has everything?…” or “Tired of thinking about dinner every night?…”
Identify someone who needs what your member is offering as a quick way to draw interest and activate the audience.
What’s Keeping Them From Buying?
Another attention-grabbing post tackles an impediment to purchases. For instance, imagine your downtown area is notorious for parking difficulties.
You can start a post with something that addresses the issue.
- “No parking worries with <business>’s new pickup or delivery service.”
- “Great news! Our new parking sensor system just made it easy to patronize our downtown businesses.”
This tactic promotes action by tackling what has been holding them back.
One thing is clear from the early predictions and return on the holiday shopping season, people are hungry for experiences. Even if they perform their due diligence online to find the best buy, many shoppers want to get out of the house and experience the joy of the holiday season. News and economic woes have taken their mental toll on many. Buyers want to forget about the problems plaguing a lot of communities.
Encouraging your members to host events is a terrific way to bring in more customers. Whether it’s a full-blown RSVP “how-to” afternoon or bringing carolers into the store, events are big this season and they’re attracting the shoppers.
Businesses can partner up in mutually beneficial undertakings to spread out the organizational work and increase the audience. For instance, a wine bar could partner with a caterer and host a “Holiday Charcuterie Board Making Class” or a salon could partner with a makeup artist or beauty product line to create a DIY holiday glam session, teaching tricks of the beauty trade for special looks. Encourage members to think about providing a fun atmosphere to bring in more sales.
The chamber may also consider hosting a pop-up business fair or holiday market. Pop-up events can be pulled together quickly and the surprise of them can cause quite a stir and build excitement. Social media and texting has created an unconscious need for quick, varied stimulation. Pop-up events, because of their novelty, can address this desire.
Leverage Your Chamber Website
In addition to your social media posts, your website is one of the best tools you possess to help small business members achieve a successful Small Business Season. Add their holiday happenings to the community calendar. Spotlight special business owners, programs, and events. Interview community members on their holiday favorites or traditions.
The holidays are an excellent time to decorate your website and provide the type of feel-good information everyone wants most these days. With a few quick updates you could turn your chamber website into the wildly popular business version of the Hallmark Channel, bringing feel-good stories about your community to life. You could even play around with some content and highlight things like “10 Places in Our Town That Could Be a Setting for a Hallmark Movie.”
There’s a lot to be done this holiday season to help small business members. And while Christmas and Hanukkah and other special gatherings are just around the corner, there’s still time to make the most of these holidays. Assisting your members in having their best season yet can go a long way to offsetting their concerns over rising costs and hiring difficulties.