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Small businesses everywhere need to be on their A games to keep the holiday momentum going and beat the off-season/slow times slump. (Katy Kassian photo)

Capturing post-holiday sales: 5 ways to keep momentum going

Ahhh, the shopping frenzy that comes with the holiday season. From pre-pre-Black Friday sales to the after-Christmas clearance blow-outs, everyone is trying to entice us all to buy, buy, BUY.

But what about AFTER the mad rush?? How can your small business capitalize on post-holiday sales and keep the momentum going well into the new year?

The struggle to remain economically viable in rural and small areas is real. Here are some ideas to help.

1) Storytelling. Don't tell us "you have to" buy XYZ ... give us a great reason why XYZ is so dang good! Telling the story of your company, your product — your WHY — draws people in.

Telling a great story is like hiring a top-notch salesman. A salesman doesn't have magical properties that make someone buy. What they do have is an ability to persuade. And that's exactly what storytelling does.

2) Remind people you exist. Don't assume that everyone already knows you're there. They don't. If they drive by your building but haven't stopped in, do they even KNOW what's inside and what you have to offer?

Here's how it works. You run into Jane at the gas station, and the conversation goes something like this.

Jane: "Oh — you're the tractor fix-it place, right?"

You: "Yes, but did you know we also sell gifts for all ages? We have tools for him, toys for the kids, and local craft items, too. And we even offer a how-to class for tractor and four-wheeler safety and basic repairs!"

Jane: "Really? I had no idea!"

Now she does — because you told her what you have to offer.

3) Advertising. Yes, ads can be spendy. Even so, shying away advertising doesn't make sense. Same thing goes for buying the least expensive option and only using it once.

Instead, use advertising like any other tool — correctly, consistently and in ways they work for you. Carefully strategized, planned and budgeted advertising campaigns get your name out, tell your story and help maintain and grow your business. Bonus: Look at a variety of options — radio, TV, promotional items, parade entries, serving snacks at the ball game, hosting classes, whatever works for you in your community. Just make sure to wear your logo and have business cards on hand.

4) Be creative. How you attract customers during slow times can make all the difference in the long haul. Offer a class that showcases your products — what can you teach people about that will bring them in to buy? What products can you show new ways to use? Hold demonstrations and provide hand-outs with recipes or DIY ideas or fun projects for kids that teach skills they can use for a lifetime.

5) Co-Pros. This is one of our favorites: Co-promoting by partnering with others is both cost-effective and creative. There are so many ways to join forces for everyone's benefit — the only limit is your imagination. Do you have space you could share with a home-based business that needs visibility? Is there a service that pairs well with your products for a package deal that benefits you both? Can you co-pro with other businesses for customers to earn points toward a prize, or chances in a raffle?

BONUS: Make a GREAT impression. Put your old-fashioned manners and customer service skills to good use — that's something you just don't find everywhere these days. Send thank you cards, run special pricing during the noon hour, dress up your entryways and interiors, smile when you're on the phone and make sure people who enter your store feel welcome.