Small Business Marketing Strategies That Open Consumer Wallets, May The Holiday Bargains Begin

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Small business marketing strategies that motivate consumers to open their wallets this holiday.


Small Business Marketing Strategies That Open Consumer Wallets, May The Holiday Bargains Begin

MERRIMAC, Mass., (Nov. 18, 2002) -- Small businesses will have to be more imaginative and price competitively if they want consumers to open their wallets this holiday season. Shoppers will be cautious and selective due to a sluggish economy and volatile stock market. According to a recent survey conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF), consumers appear to be taking a cautious approach to their holiday spending with (33 percent) of the respondents planning to spend less than last year, while the majority (56 percent) of consumers plan to spend about the same as they did in 2001.

"You can make money this holiday; however, you'll need to coordinate a deal-of-the-century promotion or, at the very least, a new angle as to why your product makes a cool gift,” said Sharron Senter, owner of, a New England-based marketing consulting firm that specializes in helping small businesses deploy low-cost marketing strategies. “You'll also want to lead with your lowest-priced items, simply to get shoppers to stop and look."

Senter suggests the following marketing tactics.

Create a Unique Promotional Offer

In order to create urgency and encourage customers to purchase, you need a special offer positioned as a great and affordable gift idea. Otherwise, you run the risk of postponing holiday purchases, leaving shoppers with the feeling of, "I can buy your product anytime. I'll wait until after the holidays."

Stand out from Your Competition

Suppose you're a mall cart owner and sales are painfully slow. Try displaying a sign that reads, "Make me an offer." The mere suggestion of doing this should draw some curiosity to your cart.

Guarantee Shipping

Customers want to know they'll get their gifts in time for the holidays. It's best to state your shipping policy in writing. Shoppers feel more confident when they see your policies in black and white. Yours could read, "All orders purchased by 5 p.m. on December 22, 2002 are guaranteed to arrive no later than 5 p.m. on December 24, 2002. Orders placed after 5 p.m. on December 22, 2002 will not arrive until after December 25, 2002.

Distribute Bounce-back Coupons

Once your customers make a purchase, you want them to come back again. To increase the chances, include a coupon with every order that announces another special offer when they make a second, third, etc. purchase. Always include an expiration date to increase urgency, and always use a different color for each coupon. The change in color sends a message to your customer that something “new” is going on.

Distribute Your Post-holiday Message

As you get closer to December 25, you'll want to start distributing your post-holiday sales message. For example, "Check out our post-holiday closeouts. Purchase any closeout item by 1/31/03 and receive 1/2 off your second item."

Collect Customer Contact Information

At minimum, you should collect your customer’s postal and email addresses. You’ll want to touch them with a sales message at least once a quarter in 2003.


NRF survey found at

Interview Contact: Sharron Senter

(978) 346-4086,


Sharron Senter is the owner of, a Merrimac, Mass. marketing firm that specializes in helping small business owners increase their revenue by implementing low-cost marketing techniques. Senter is best known for her free weekly emailed marketing tips, found at

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