How Small Businesses Can Stay Competitive This Valentines Day

February 6, 2015

It’s nearly Valentines Day.  As a small business owner, are you ready to make the most of this … and … other holidays?  How do you compete with the big boys?

Do you sell gift baskets?  How do you compete with a relatively cheap box of chocolates from The Warehouse?

Are you an aromatherapist?  How will you get people to buy a romantic aromatherapy gift instead of perfume from a popular chemist chain?

Hairdressers …. everyone wants to look good for their Valentine.  How are you taking advantage of the upcoming holiday?

Fact.  Small business compete every day with the big boys.  Big business have the big budgets, head office or departmental support and resources, brand awareness and a loyal customer base.  In your favour, and what the big boys don’t have is you.  Small business owners have their fingers on the pulse.  You know your customers personally, you’re aware of trends and, a biggie, you have the ability to make change instantly.  With social media being the big leveller that it is, you can take on anyone.  With a bit of planning.

Your challenges

  1. Staff shortages over the busy period
  2. Lack of exposure or no marketing plan
  3. The competition!
  4. No time to do what needs to be done

Your solutions

All your challenges can be solved by doing one simple thing, planning.

Don’t leave things until the last minute.  Plan your strategy weeks out from the actual day.  A good strategy will cover the following points:

  1. Identify your USP and think about how you can use this to promote your business.  What can you offer, that only you can offer?  Answer this and you’ll have the answer as to how you take on the big boys.  Your message and your offering is everything.  This is the basis of your marketing plan.
  2. Draft your marketing plan.  Are you going to send newsletters to your existing clients, run a competition, launch a Facebook campaign or run an ad in your local paper.  Be clear about who your customers are, where they are, what the problem is you are going to solve and how you are going to solve it.  Draft a short plan and add actions to the list below.
  3. Develop an action plan of the tasks you need to do in order to be ready for the big day.  Show against each action who is responsible for implementation, and the deadline.
  4. Make a comprehensive list of what resources you are going to need and prepare a budget.  Sometimes (pretty much always!) you need to spend money to make money and if you don’t have the cashflow, talk to your local bank manager or see a small business cashflow specialist.  I recommend Kabbage.  They specialise in, and know how, small businesses work.  They also make borrowing money an easy and stress-free process.
  5. Prepare for a lack of time by delegating tasks and giving yourself plenty of time to complete your actions.  The further out that you plan, the less of a challenge ‘time’ will be.

And if you’re in the B2B space, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity for you too.  Here’s a couple of tips on how to tap into the holiday buzz:

  • Send a personal card to existing customers saying that you’ve loved working with them.
  • Send a customised card to prospects saying how much you’d love to work with them.
  • Write a post about how much you love what you do.
  • Set-up a digital game of some kind where people find and click on hearts or flowers around your site.
  • Update your social Avatars and cover images for the day – Google does this brilliantly.
  • Run a ‘spread the love’ campaign with an incentivised ‘customer-get-customer’ campaign.

Finally, happy Valentine’s Day for the 14th. I hope you get spoilt rotten!!

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