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BBB offers advice to to boost holiday business

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Based on last year’s numbers, businesses saw a nearly 27% rise in online sales during the holidays. The Better Business Bureau is out with how businesses can beef up their holiday marketing.

The holiday season offers small-business owners a unique opportunity to connect with customers and increase brand awareness. Growth can be seen through an e-commerce site, through social media, a holiday party, and many other ways.

Ten ideas submitted by the BBB are aimed at brand engagements this holiday season, especially digital-marketing strategies. Atop the list is running a holiday-themed giveaway campaign.

“It’s a great way to generate brand engagement; and with a giveaway, you can incentivize your customers to participate in marketing efforts by offering them free products,” said Tammy Ward with the BBB’s Pensacola office.

She says businesses can also express appreciation for current customers who have visited the brick-and-mortar store, and their website.

“There are certain ‘days’ for national days where it’s customer appreciation,” Ward said. “But this is another opportunity during the holiday season to engage in those customers that you already had in the past, and connect with them through social media, email — that kind of thing — and offer them some rewards when they shop your brand.”

Businesses looking for a relatively cheap way to build brand awareness can check out an interactive campaign. It encourages its audience to create and share photos and videos of themselves using your products or services.

“Gear it towards your business, and create a hashtag; then you can let your customers know — if they take pictures — because everybody, or most everybody, is on social media these days taking pictures of everything,” said Ward. “So if they add a hashtag to the picture with your product, that’s actually free advertising for you.”

Another way to keep the foot and online traffic high is taking part in a holiday charity — generating brand awareness through giving back to your community. That, in turn, can gain brand advocates and develop better relationships with customers.

“Hook up with a local charity, find out what they really need, and then maybe put out a box or something at your business; and offer your customers an opportunity to drop something off,” said Ward. “You don’t have to offer them a discount but if you do, that’s an even bigger incentive.”

And don’t forget the younger customers and the children of older ones. Ward says to offer goodies, preferably interactive, that appeal to them.

“It’s something free for them, and they get to create a Christmas list that they can email and/or otherwise through social media send to their parents instead of going right up and saying, ‘I want that, that, and that,’” Ward said. “I guess spouses can do that do — instead of saying, ‘I want this,’ they can actually hint around by putting in on an app.”

Other measures from the BBB include collaborating with influencers in your niche; a holiday-themed email remarketing campaign; a holiday-related checklist; and a campaign that targets customers’ emotions, and giving away freebies with every purchase.

“And it doesn’t have to be anything substantial; just a little something that maybe has your business’ name on it,” Ward said. “There’s a lot of products out there now that you can have branding, and you can just put it as part of their purchase. If it’s something that you are putting in a bag that they purchase, you can just add it to it, or you can hand it to them at checkout.”

And as with the other times of the year, the BBB’s Tammy Ward reminds everyone to stay on their guard against scam artists and their shenanigans.

“Check www.bbb.org/scams; you can give us a call at (850) 429-0002; usually, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Ward said. “But if you’re not sure, always check.”