Few companies have been spared the ravages of the recession, but some strategies seem to be working to help small businesses stay afloat. In a recent article at Inc., Elizabeth Wasserman suggests tactics that small retailers might employ to add some ho-ho-ho to the late-holiday sales season—and boost results in the new year. Among her tips:
Adjust your sales plan to maximize revenue. "A small business needs to remain nimble and able to respond quickly to market events and surges or drops in demand," notes Wasserman. For instance, it can:
Identify and mark down slow-selling items right away. "[Retailing consultant Ted] Hurlbut recommends discounting … slow sellers by 30 percent early on to help move them out, rather than slashing prices by 50 to 75 percent later on," she reports.
Prepare for post-holiday gift-certificate redemptions. By introducing products in mid-December that can transition into the new year—goods that will not require clearance pricing—you can capitalize on a greater percentage of full-margin sales when customers begin to redeem their gift certificates, she explains.
Cultivate customer loyalty. "One of the advantages small businesses have—in particular, retailers—is that they have a presence in the community that can be used to their advantage," she writes. You can encourage the loyalty of locals in any season with strategies like these:
Sending marketing messages that show your company understands the specific challenges facing the area you serve.
Supporting local charities, schools and churches through sponsorships or the contribution of products or services.
The Po!nt: 'Tis the season to strategize. Use the downturn as an opportunity to innovate; the strategies you develop now may continue to serve you well once the economy recovers.
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