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10 Ideas for Small Business to Win Holiday Shoppers

Black Friday, Cyber Monday — no matter which way you look at it the competition for holiday shoppers is on full force. Small businesses in particular face the significant challenge of breaking through the clutter to attract customers and secure sales. 

Word of mouth marketing works for any size business. You don’t need a hot website, to be in a sexy industry, or to have a cool, innovative new technology. You can make it work if you’re the one person who gets it inside a giant corporation. You can make it work for a single store with no advertising budget.

You just have to give people something to talk about. 

1. Use your personality. As more people crush into big stores, face-to-face service matters more. Give people a reason to remember you and tell their friends.

2. Go the extra mile. Great service is always talked about, especially when it’s unexpected. Offer a free gift, wrapping paper, a future coupon, or a spare part. Carry someone’s bags, do a repair for free, be generous with returns. Little surprises are the things that customer talk about.

3. De-stress the shopping. When people are talking about the horrors of holiday shopping, they will talk about you as the nice alternative. Take it down a notch: offer cider and tea, free delivery, a coat/package check service, or valet parking.

4. Do something wacky. Emphasize gifts people can’t get anywhere else — something fun or something weird. People will talk like crazy about the unusual items. That word of mouth will bring them in to buy regular stuff.

5. Take care of your VIPs. They will tell everyone else. Offer private shopping hours for good customers, a free upgrade, or a special offer.

6. Make your fans look good. Email a private discount offer to your best customers that they can share with their friends. They will feel good about you — and look good to their friends.

7. Create a pass-along item. Shoppers are more likely to tell a friend if they have something in hand to remind them. Hand out free samples, postcards, shopping bags, calendars, and anything else with your logo.

8. Partner with a charity. It’s always important to give back to the community. Plus… when you support the community, they will support you with kind word of mouth.

9. Just ask nicely. Your happy customers will support you, but you may need to remind them. End every sale with "Thank you — and please tell a friend about us."

10. Make people happy. Happy customers are your greatest advertisers. Do whatever it takes to make sure people walk out the door with a smile on their face.

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