Getting Holiday Foot Traffic Using Both Digital and Traditional Methods

November 7, 2019

By Jason Eisenberg
Community Program Manager for Office Depot

Hey! Can you hear me?

There's a lot of noise out there on the Internet, especially during the holiday season. How are you carving out space online to attract new customers to your business - especially if you have a brick and mortar store? In a nutshell, it's a combination of both digital and traditional marketing that can help bolster your holiday sales. We have a very special holiday edition of our business chat, featuring THREE successful businesswomen in their respective fields to help business owners navigate the holidays as both a business owner and a human being with a personal life.

Go Digital to Serve Local

  • Do you have a personal brand?

Think about the last time you tried a new restaurant or new service. How did you make that decision? Was it a referral or the online equivalent in a review (86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses)? Or did you check out the Google, Yelp, Instagram or Facebook page? With all the screens and tech we have in our hands, it's a fair guess to say you didn't go in blind without conducting any research.

This is where your personal brand plays a large role. Clear messaging and consistent content that resonates (or helps) your audience are key. Leverage your community (contacts and customers) because they are your best advocates. Remember, your personal brand is you - the human. Not the 'business page'. So, get a little personal if you're comfortable with it. Talk about the behind-the-scenes aspects of your business, entertain or educate your audience on your way to a sale.

In a previous discussion with Brittany Krystle about personal branding, she says this:

"Everyone has a brand. There are people talking about your work - if you don't control your reputation - your story - that's your fault." 

  • Which platforms are best for your business - Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn

For Stacy's specific brick and mortar dance studio, she heavily uses Facebook and Instagram - both for content and paid, targeted ads. However, every industry is different. It's more about where your customers are looking for your services and what your personal strengths are. For instance, if you're a sound writer consider a platform like Quora where you can personally answer questions and build a reputation for your brand and ultimately, your business. Or if you know your business is designed for teenagers, play with video on TikTok.

The heavy hitters right now are Facebook and Instagram and a great tip most people don't think about for Instagram is making your post 'searchable'. You can use localized, niche hashtags to make sure people know where you're based out of. A good example of this would be #NewportBeachPhotographer. But LinkedIn, according to Brittany, is in the swing of things with strong SEO value, high engagement rates and a very friendly algorithm. Many brick and mortar business owners aren't thinking too much about their personal brands on LinkedIn, which means there's opportunity there for your brand and your business.  

  • Leverage your community to find new customers - examples

Stacy shares some excellent examples from her experience you can use for your brick and mortar business. Free community events are great, but sometimes you might just attract people looking for 'freebies'. Facebook ads are a great way to give a targeted audience a taste of what you're selling - but remember, you're not just going after a sale. You can try some of the following ideas:

1. Free trials

2. Free events offering a snippet of what the business offers

3. Stacy is attracting families, so she puts out seasonal activity guides and gives shout outs to 10 other local businesses (collaboration, larger social media footprint, building a community of business owners)

4. Offer something nominal (once they put in a little, they've qualified themselves and are likely to spend more)

Messaging with Signage and Digital Assets

Signage is an important aspect of a brick and mortar business and even more importantly, it needs to match your entire brand messaging. Without it, you can lose the trust of the potential customer you worked so hard to bring in. What a customer sees in a Facebook or Instagram ad needs to match what they see in your store, which needs to match what they see in your email newsletter or video. The consistency on all fronts is key to retaining happy and loyal customers.

"It tells a brand story that's continuous and seamless and customers really value that." - Stephanie Schwartz

If you haven't already prepared your posters and/or holiday signage, you can get them printed same day at an Office Depot location near your or even print online and pick up in-store.

About Black Friday and Cyber Monday...

In the past we've gone over how to approach Small Business Saturday and what NOT to do for Black Friday. Most small businesses cannot compete in ad spend against their giant competitors, let alone slash prices to increase the volume of customers.

"You need to find those pockets where you're not directly thinking about what your competitor is doing at those times - and start thinking about what you can do strategically so you can be seen." - Brittany Krystle

Think differently from your competitors and reach out to your community in a way that's more personal. A perfect example Stacy gave is her December campaign with the goal to have current customers refer new ones.

Her dance studio hands out physical post cards to her customers in December that says, "Give the gift of dance", which offers a free month of dance. Coupled with an emotion-evoking photo, their customers gave them to friends and last year, it was one of their biggest conversions in January because those friends tried it out and would enroll for February.

"So, going to Office Depot and getting these postcards printed where you can physically give to your customers to give to a friend has been huge for us." - Stacy Tuschl

Managing Your Time - Life & Business

  • Life

All three of our business advisors fully agreed on this one. You need to be intentional about the time you take to relax. Stacy suggests treating your time off like an appointment in your calendar - block it off like you DO have something scheduled.

Brittany says she needs to treat all of her relationships like a business. "I need to be there," she said. "It's not easy but when you're in it and if you're present - you don't think about working if you're enjoying the time doing the other thing."

Making sure you're on a team that understands and appreciates the balance of work and life is great. And if you're the leader of that team (ahem... business owners), it's your responsibility to make that part of the culture. From Stephanie's perspective, there can be guilt we tend to put on ourselves so it is crucial to be intentional about your wellness. It could be as simple as flipping over your phone when you're out to dinner or just doing one little thing everyday for yourself in order to help you get out of that chaotic head space.

  • Business

Life is already busy but the holidays make it a little more hectic. Optimize your time by utilizing businesses that can knock out multiple destinations with one visit to one store like Office Depot. If you need a few things for your business like holiday signage, business cards or branded swag, you can save time with same-day services or online printing and in store pickup. But it's the holidays, so it's not all business...

Get your custom photo holiday cards printed and shipped from the store as well so you can avoid the drive and unavoidable line at the Post Office. The holiday season doesn't have to be an all-out brawl between your business and personal life. Be intentional with your time and try out the ideas Brittany, Stacy and Stephanie shared above because if it works for the holiday season, it can work all year.

About the Author

Jason Eisenberg is the Community Program Manager for Office Depot, specializing in small business and entrepreneurship. Based in one of the most exciting cities for startups — Austin, TX — Jason is plugged into the business community, often connecting with thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and strategists to help identify and find solutions to common pain points all business owners share.

All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is,” and neither the author nor Office Depot warrants the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions, or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.