Winter can be a difficult time for small businesses that rely on the foot traffic of their customers. Snow, wind, and cold weather all make great conditions for staying home, but not great conditions for your sales efforts. “But wait!” you say. “It’s the beginning of the year! I want to start 2018 with a steady flow of revenue!”
Although this season makes it a little more difficult to keep your sales high, the weather doesn’t make it impossible. Here are six ways to overcome the cold weather, and even leverage it as a small business advantage.
1. Stay warm!
If your customers are the need-to-get-out-of-the-house type, there’s a good chance they’ll brave the cold weather sooner or later. After all, few people love being stuck in their homes and offices for weeks on end without venturing into the world. If you have a storefront, make sure your location looks as inviting as possible. Visiting your small business should be a respite from the cold.
Tactically, you should crank the heat up high (we hope you did this anyway!), and use warm colors like reds, yellows, browns, and tans in your store-front decorations. These colors give a more inviting and relaxing impression than cool blues and grays. When your visitors walk through your front door to take a break from the cold air outside, they’re likely to make a purchase to “earn” the right to stay indoors.
2. Stock up on winter treats
Nothing beats a hot chocolate on a cold day. Reward customers for braving the cold weather by offering treats like hot chocolate, cider, or other cheap treats. Your generosity won’t go unnoticed, and customers will have a great story to tell their friends about how much they loved visiting your small business in the cold.
Don’t make the mistake, however, of thinking customers will find out about your offerings on their own. Remember to publicize your efforts using a sign in your storefront or your social media accounts.
3. Offer sales on winter-related items
Virtually every business can offer seasonal items. From a tasty, snowman-shaped treat to a hat-and-scarf combo, it’s likely that you have something winter-related in your store already. If you’re struggling to bring in sales this January, consider starting a promotion on these items. As with most sales, a single enticing offer can be the nudge your customers need to shop all of your products.
4. Cooperate with other local small businesses
There’s a lot of value in working with your competitors instead of against them. If you’re lucky enough to be located in a community-focused neighborhood and surrounded by other small businesses, use this to your advantage. If several small businesses work together to tempt customers out of their homes, your efforts will compound. Customers will have the draw of a fun day moving in and out of their favorite shops, rather than the simple offer of visiting your store and going home again.
To co-market successfully with other small businesses, you can promote the neighborhood shops on your social media profiles, keep leaflets or flyers in your store, or offer discounts to customers who visit more than one local business in a day. Just be sure that your neighbors are returning the favor!
5. Stay active on social media
Social media can play a key role in driving your winter success in many ways. As we’ve already mentioned, you can utilize your social media accounts to promote your winter treats, your sales, and even your neighbors. But you can do so much more.
If your small business is located in a severely impacted location, it’s a good idea to keep customers updated on your hours via social media. Be sure to use enticing, brand-aligned graphics (include a logo and relevant colors in your images) to announce your open hours, early closures, or late openings.
Don’t forget to be personal on your social media. After all, cold weather can also be fun weather. If your employees are making snowmen on the sidewalk in front of your store, if your team is warming up over hot cider, or if you’ve got a dozen pairs of snow boots lined up in the perfect Instagram shot, be sure to post photos online. Customers respond to humans, not just to brands.
6. Get personal - offer deliveries to your customers’ homes
Depending on your business, you may be able to get even more personal with your customers. Instead of luring them out of their homes, offer to deliver orders over a specific dollar amount to their homes. Providing this level of convenience and personalization when you may not do so otherwise is a great way to say, “We’re here for you!”
While you’re at it, make sure you take a moment to smile and chat with your customers. Be careful that they know you were happy to go above and beyond for them, but they don’t see your extra service as something they’ve burdened you with.
Most importantly, only take to the roads if it is safe to do so. We do not recommend offering deliveries or tempting your customers to leave home unless it is absolutely safe to do so.
Although this season may prove to be challenging for your small business, try your best to approach the challenge with an eye for new opportunities. You may find yourself connecting with customers, earning the trust of strangers, and getting your brand heard more than you’ve been able to in recent months.
From our team at StartBlox, stay warm this winter!