Bonus episode | Host Emily Washcovick does a quick deep dive into a topic affecting small businesses, sharing small but mighty changes you can implement in your business.
In episode three of the “Biz Bites” series, we discuss strategies for maximizing the holiday season, like engaging with customers through social media, creating excitement around holiday offerings, and promoting your hardworking staff. We also dig into how to effectively collaborate with other businesses, participate in local events, and capture more content for promotion you can use year round. Get advice and tips for using the holidays to connect with customers and generate support for your business.
Hey there. I’m Emily Washcovick, Yelp’s Small Business Expert and the host of this podcast, Behind the Review.
Normally, on Thursdays, we drop episodes in your feed sharing stories with a business owner and someone who wrote one of their Yelp reviews. But now, we’re going to add something new. On Tuesdays, we’re going to drop what we’re calling “Biz Bites” episodes. Biz Bites are 7-10 minute episodes where I dig deeper into a topic affecting small business owners. And I’ll give you some tactical steps that you can use to implement changes in your business that are small, but could maybe have a big impact on future customers.
So let’s dive right in. Biz Bites episode three: planning for seasonality & holiday bursts.
I love the holidays and it’s a great time for small business owners as well. People are excited to spend, and get in the gift giving mood. But there’s a couple things that you want to do to maximize this time. Let’s start with the most basic but often overlooked. Make sure you have your holiday hours updated and accurate across all of the places consumers may be looking.
So on Yelp, for example, you can set special hours as far in the future as you’d like. So you go into business.yelp.com, navigate yourself to the Business Information section, and then under hours : Edit your special hours and put whatever changes you have coming up in the next few months of the holiday season. And then make sure you have reminders to update your hours on the other platforms as well. Like on your website, on your social media accounts and hey, if you’re worried about making sure they’re updated everywhere – this can hopefully ease your mind. If you prioritize Yelp, Google, your websites, and your social media, you should be pretty well covered. Because tons of different platforms pull Yelp data. For example, Apple Maps, or if you search using Siri on an iPhone, or even if you go to Yahoo or Bing, those sites are all pulling Yelp business data.
So if you make sure that your Yelp page is updated and accurate, it will automatically update in those other locations.
Social media is also super important. Some businesses don’t even include their hours on their social media accounts, but I’m a firm believer that if you’re a brick and mortar business, you should have your hours in your bio of your social media accounts. And then when the holidays are here, post on your story, let people know what your special hours are.
And beyond hours, how can you create excitement for what you’re offering around the holidays? Maybe you’re doing posts on social media to give customers an idea of what’s coming up. Maybe you’re waiting until Small Business Saturday to do something cool. You can still talk about that in the coming weeks and get people ready for it.
Maybe you have a special or a sale that you’re going to put on to increase traffic or transactions. That’s great! Are you posting about it on social media? Have you added it to your Yelp page as an update? Remember, consumers are getting so much information in this period so you’re not going to overwhelm them if you repeat yourself.
You want to let them know a handful of times what you have going on. It’s a way to stay relevant and top of mind for your consumers. And hey, maybe you don’t have a seasonal offering. You can still take what you’re doing and make it relevant to the time of year.
For example, a nail salon, they only do nails, right? There’s nothing very Christmassy or holiday focused about that. But, you can mention and promote gift cards. People are in a gift giving mood and your business can be that gift. Whether it’s holiday themed or not. So remember. You don’t have to have a specific holiday offering. You just want to make what you’re offering relevant to the holidays that are happening.
Holidays are also an amazing time to highlight your staff. It’s always a good idea to humanize your business online – and the holidays are a great time to celebrate staff members, especially when they’re going above and beyond to create great customer experiences.
And when you’re talking about your employees, there’s ways you can engage them that drive consumer behavior. For example, maybe you have them share their favorite seasonal item or what they would buy from your business as a gift for their favorite person. Think of ways that you can show who is in and behind your business and attract other people to come spend their holiday dollars with you.
You can also create holiday specific menu items, of course. And a fun thing to do when you do that – is to talk about it everywhere. Let’s say for example, you’re a coffee shop with seasonal drinks. You want to have a sandwich board out front. You want to have pictures on social media. Maybe you’re even making some reels to show how those drinks are made. And maybe you partner with another business around the block and swap information so that they’re co-promoting your fun holiday flavors and you’re highlighting something that they’re offering during the holiday season.
That collaboration is really a great way to share customers and get to know other business owners in your area.
Localized events and opportunities are also a huge thing that you can grab onto during the holiday season. Last BizByte episode talked about using local events to your advantage and the holidays are no different. Maybe you have a fall festival. Maybe there’s a holiday bazaar! Whatever’s happening in the local area, see if you can be a part of it.
Maybe you have a pop up for your business at the event, or maybe you just have little flyers that are passed out, at other tables that are participating. Think of ways that you can connect with customers in places that they’re going to go for this holiday season.
And lastly, capture more content of your business. So many of us overlook the value of our smartphones. You have the ability to just whip that phone out and take pictures. Do unboxing videos when you get a new item in stock.
Customers want to see that behind the curtain look at your business. So get in the habit of letting customers know what you’re up to and highlighting things that you’re offering in a cyclical way, like your services. And remember, again, it’s okay to be repetitive. You want to share those key messages about your business over and over again.
And I know sometimes it’s a big challenge to be constantly posting. On social media especially, I know business owners say they run out of things to talk about. All the time, but that’s why we want to maximize holidays and other fun things that are going on as a way to promote ourselves. So again, it’s not about us being seasonal or every offering that we have being a holiday specific item. It’s more about using holidays to help you continue to promote content and information about your business.
I have a friend here actually in Milwaukee who owns a local flower shop. When she started a couple years ago it was not a retail business. She was taking individual orders, doing weddings here and there. Then she built up a subscription business. And then she opened this tiny brick and mortar, which was really awesome. And there started to be some days where you could pop in and buy bouquets.
But now she is a full blown retailer. She sells things beyond just flowers. She has candles, fun little items with her branding on them, and she says, you know, posting all the time is hard. It’s a challenge to know what to talk about. And to talk about yourself over and over. But something they’ve recently started doing is using national holiday days to post fun things.
And that doesn’t just mean the seasonal holidays that are coming up in the next few months. Every single day is a random holiday. A couple weeks ago it was National Hot Chocolate Day, for example. And they did a post for the flower shop talking about it being National Hot Chocolate Day. Nothing crazy that they were doing or selling. Just showing some themed floral that goes with the vibe of fall and they actually shouted out a coffee shop right around the corner that was doing a fun hot chocolate event that day.
So again, this flower shop isn’t posting about National Hot Chocolate Day as a way to promote some huge special or drive a ton of revenue. It’s just a way to engage with their customer base by talking about something that might be relevant. And really what you want to do when it comes to holidays is talk about who you are, what you do, and how it can be a great option for your customers to gift to themselves or to gift to someone in their life.
I’m sure there’s an element of your business or an offering that you provide that someone wants this holiday season. That could be everything from an item, a physical gift – to a service. Like getting your nails or hair done. Even those home services that need to happen so that we can host holiday parties and we can stay up and running throughout the winter season.
So no matter what kind of business you have, use this holiday season as a way to talk about yourself and connect with customers and as a way to generate leads. It is gift giving time and people love supporting small businesses. So let them know what you’re doing and how they can support you this holiday season.