By Jennie Wong The Charlotte Observer.
Ready or not, it's the holiday shopping season. And that means business owners are rolling out their year-end promotions.
So how can you stand out in a crowded field of deals and discounts? Here are three quick strategies you can start using in your business right now:
BORROW FROM THE BIG GUYS You can find inspiration for innovative promotions just about anywhere, even from much larger competitors. Jennifer Schmidt Branham of The Boulevard at South End, an eclectic retailer of clothes and furnishings in Charlotte, N.C., is taking a page directly from Costco.
"We 'borrowed' our gift certificate promotion from the big box stores and offer a free $10 gift certificate for every $50 you buy, which has worked pretty well for us!"
The common element to these inventive promotions is that they surprise the customer with something out of the ordinary, or out of the usual context.
PUT A BOW ON IT Do your customers share a common source of holiday stress that you can alleviate? Design your promotion to address some of that inconvenience.
For example, consider following the lead of Colleen Lloyd-Roberts, whose e-commerce company, Top Notch Nail Files, will offer free gift wrapping to complement its seasonal deals. Some people may look forward to wrapping their gifts, but there are many other customers who will appreciate an item that arrives "stocking-ready."
BE A DO-GOODER Customers notice when companies give back. Christine Frandzeskakis pays special attention to holiday promotions that have a charitable aspect.
"Promos that give back get a second look from me, especially this time of year. For example, Toms and Target just teamed up for the holidays. I'll be checking that out for sure." This particular partnership will provide shoes, blankets and meals to those in need, and provides shoppers with an extra incentive to pull out their credit card.
And if you can combine doing good with something your customers want to do anyway, all the better. Irma Wolfe is the owner of Dolce Vita Wine Bar, which runs an annual "Will Drink for Toys" promotion, offering their customers a free glass of wine for donating a toy or bike part for the charity, Trips for Kids Charlotte. ___ ABOUT THE WRITER Jennie Wong is an executive coach, author of the e-book "Ask the Mompreneur" and the creator of the product quiz website www.ABorC.com