This article was kindly provided by the General Manager of Servcorp Australia and New Zealand, Liane Gorman. Servcorp is a publicly listed Australian company and leading provider of premium Serviced Offices, Virtual Offices, Coworking Spaces and IT solutions with 150 locations worldwide. The ANZ region in which Liane is responsible has a turnover of approximately $55million.
The festive Christmas and New Year season is something you have to take into consideration when running your own business. Major holidays like these can have a big impact on business as companies temporarily shut down and employees take time off work.
However, this doesn’t stop your current and potential customers from shopping, calling and enquiring about your products or services. How can you still take a break without stopping your business? Use this to your advantage and learn how to take care of business over this festive period.
Here are our top tips to make the most of the festive break.
1) Generate more leads
Increase your business presence and generate more leads through smart, cost-effective marketing tactics.
• Outdoor adverting with your vehicle
During the holiday period there are more people out of the office driving around and enjoying their time off. This is a good opportunity for your business to gain more exposure with your target market and generate enquiries. You can create car stickers and magnets to place on your car for as little as $25 – $50. Ensure your message is clear and has a direct call to action with engaging imagery & colours. Create urgency with an offer limited to the Christmas / Holiday season. Expand your reach and ask your family and friend to help you out by placing signage on their cars.
• Local direct mail drops
Don’t overlook the simple flyer or promotional mail out which can also build awareness. Again, be sure to have a clear direct call to action and promotion to create urgency. If you don’t have the budget for a professionally designed and printed flyer or magnet giveaway, try a simple letter on your letterhead which clearly identifies your message and placed it in a plain DL envelope. This is less conspicuous and will trigger curiosity. If you don’t have the resources or skills to create a flyer, consider enlisting the services of a local graphic designer or overseas freelancers. Websites such as Freelancer.com gives you access to all types of freelancers around the world. If you go down the road of sending a brochure or flyer, remember this is only the first step. It is essential to schedule in time to follow up on those you have distributed the mail out to for maximum results.
Capitalise on your neighbouring businesses and local community. Get to know your neighbours in the same building and surrounding buildings, and work closely with them to cross promote one another. Keep business cards or flyers in local cafes, retailers, reception areas. Arrange joint promotions to help drive traffic within the local community.
Do you ask for referrals? Take the time to learn and be confident in asking for referrals for your business. During the holiday season with many Christmas parties you will no doubt get ample opportunities to get to know your neighbours which may also be your next customer. This is the perfect time to ask for referrals and promote your business. Don’t forget to prepare your 30-second elevator pitch.
• Invite only…
Have you considered hosting your own event? Something to keep in mind for the New Year is an exclusive invitation-only event, which can make your customers, their friends and potential new customers feel special. As a rule-of-thumb, send invitations out at least 3-4 weeks in advance. Avoid the early-mid January period when people are still away and in holiday mode. Take time to personally sign the invites to make guests feel special. If you are going to use an existing database, invite them to bring an additional guest. If children are expected at the event, it might be worthwhile dedicating a play area to keep children entertained with activities / games / or even hire a face painter.
The event doesn’t need to be a flash evening affair, it can be a morning event or afternoon tea. Consider partnering with those in your local community to reduce costs and increase exposure. For example, catering or beverages might be donated by your local caterer or convenience store. You can also ask for contributions to a charity raffle, door prizes or items for gift bags.
• Google Plus and reviews
A free listing which ensures you are found online and helps you increase your page ranking. Encourage your customers to leave reviews, as the more reviews you have, the better your online presence. Remind your customers regularly to leave reviews via: emails, word of mouth, flyers, etc.
Social media in its various forms, is here to stay. It’s an inexpensive tool to help spread the word about your business. In fact, 8 out of 10 small to medium businesses (SMEs) use social media to drive growth. And 3 in 5 SMEs say they’ve gained customers by using social media. Increase your followers by incentivizing customers to like/follow your social media pages. For example, give a 10% in-store or online discount once you have proof of someone following, mentioning you, or liking you.
Identify which social media channels suit your business and which ones to focus your efforts on.
• Facebook: great for consumer / retail brands
• Twitter: fast paced channel ideal for most types of industries
• LinkedIn: suitable for B2B businesses and professional services
• Instagram: great for retail brands or conveying visuals
Let your customers do the sharing for you during the holidays season. For example, create an engaging and interesting point of sale (Christmas Window display or Christmas tree in reception). Ask customers to take a photo and share on social in exchange for a voucher or gift. During 2016, think about how you can run regular social media activities.
2) Capture your enquiries and leads
• Build a marketing database
As leads increase you don’t want to lose a single contact, however not everyone who comes into contact with you will become a customer. Make sure you capture their details and requirements, where possible have them complete a short customer profile either online or in person. Nurture these contacts, keep them updated, keep it interesting and personalised, and encourage their return to your business.
If you are closing over the holidays or running on reduced staff, it’s highly recommend to arrange for someone to answer your calls. Don’t miss out on any enquiry. Ever. You might have a mobile and voicemail, however, as we live in a high demand society this may simply not be enough.
People want someone to speak to other people and get help straight away. Enquiries are usually calling a number of providers and if they can’t get onto someone right away, they will move on to the next business who can tend to their queries immediately. Speak to your team and arrange a roster to be available for taking enquiries. Many like to enquire online – does your web site have a ‘live chat’ service? If you are considering one, ensure your team respond immediately. Same goes to responding to email enquiries.
• Track your efforts
Register a tracking phone number and record the calls on all advertisements, mail outs and promotions. For emails, consider using a Google analytics tracking ID/URL so you can determine which emails generated the most interest. Take the time to analyse where your leads come from so you can see what is generating the most return on your investment.
3) Prepare for the New Year – welcome 2016
• Take time to analyse your data and plan for success in 2016
In the first week back in January work out a plan of attack and create a basic marketing plan for the first 2 quarters of 2016.
Determine where the majority of your leads came from in 2015, and use this information to assess where your efforts should be spent in 2016.
- Work out if you will run an event
- Consider a social media program
- Actively follow up on leads
- Align your team with all lead generation efforts and closing sales
Need to close for a break, but don’t want to miss out on sales? Let Servcorp look after your calls (or assist with anything else) while you and your team take a well-deserved rest. A professional local receptionist can answer your calls in your company name and handle them any way you wish; whether it’s taking a personal message, answering basic enquiries or even having it transferred to you anywhere in the world.
Your No 1 focus now and into the New Year, increase leads and make more sales!