How small businesses can get noticed this holiday shopping season

The holiday retail season seems to start earlier every year – for shoppers and for small business owners. If you’re on the supply side of that equation, any moment lost in preparing for the season might end up as profit lost. Constructing a plan to ramp up sales for the season should be a top priority as the cool air of autumn starts to filter in.

Small business owners are aware of the challenges posed by our current economy, but that’s no reason to sell yourself short during the hottest shopping months of the year. Many consumers have been saving up all year to make purchases now, so you shouldn’t let yourself have low expectations. But to bolster sales, a scattershot approach isn’t the best idea. Formulating a strategy and implementing it as the season progresses will help you to not only keep things on track internally, but also continually draw in customers.

Consider these ideas to boost your business’s numbers in the all-important holiday shopping season.

* Set up shop. Whether you’re tending a bricks-and-mortar or Web-based storefront, now is a good time to give it a good sprucing up – and even some seasonal touches. Make sure that you’re projecting an image that’s welcoming to customers – the warm and cozy feeling inspired by fall and winter can serve as your inspiration.

* Sell smart. Added incentive is something that shoppers are not just looking for during the holidays – they often demand it. Businesses that have holiday sales are often businesses that do well. Review your stock and see where you can make price cuts that will appeal to customers – and help to boost your overall business. Setting the sales for a limited time can also help drive customer interest.

* Send word. To get customers to come to you, sometimes you have to go to them first. For the sales events that you’ll be implementing, send out postcards to notify customers. Make your sale a can’t-miss-it opportunity by giving customers an added discount for bringing in the postcard.

* Be seen. Keeping your business fresh in customers’ minds is essential, particularly when they’re being inundated with messaging from competitors. Try something a bit different, like using posters in high-traffic areas. If you want to get a bit more attention online, consider doing a bit of advertising or sponsoring a popular blog.

* Boost your customer service. You always want to put customers first, but a bit of added attentiveness during this season, when everyone is running ragged, will be appreciated. If you make purchases, returns or shipping hassle-free for customers, you might see the rewards in word-of-mouth recommendations.

Don’t be caught without a plan to maximize your holiday season sales this year. A little extra effort invested now can have big payoffs that will close the year on a rosy note.

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