Long lines! Massive crowds! Packed airports and shopping malls! Doorbuster deals you can’t miss!
Yeah, no. The hallmarks of the holiday shopping season aren’t exactly COVID-friendly. Right now, as coronavirus case numbers soar across the United States, the best thing all of us can do is stay at home and avoid any in-person gatherings that aren’t absolutely necessary.
But that doesn’t mean the holidays are canceled this year. Although we may be stuck inside for a while, you can still get into the spirit, spread cheer, and even boost your year-end profits by allowing your customers to enjoy some old-fashioned seasonal consumerism. Here are a dozen ideas for doing just that:
1. Set the mood for your home office.
Brew some peppermint tea, hot chocolate, or warm spiced cider. Hang some fairy lights. Play some melancholy Charlie Brown Christmas music. Seemingly trivial touches can lift your mood and help you embody the feelings you want to convey to your customers.
2. Send holiday cards.
Who doesn’t like receiving holiday greetings in the mail? All you need is a photo of yourself (bonus points if it features your family; extra bonus points for pets) and a brief message like “Wishing you happy holidays!” Hint: you can turn this into a sales opportunity by including your business’s website URL and a discount code.
3. Write a thank-you post on your blog.
Now is a great time to publish a blog post looking back on 2020 and ahead to 2021. Don’t think too hard about it—two or three paragraphs can suffice. Greet your readers, acknowledge some of the challenges of this year, offer an optimistic message for the future, and make sure to express your gratitude for your customers. Make it their story—show them that their support is what sustains your business.
4. Personally thank the people who kept your business going this year.
In addition to writing a general thank-you post, consider reaching out to the VIP customers who stuck with you throughout 2020. They kept your business going during one of the most difficult years in modern history, and they deserve love and recognition for it.
Above all, be sure to thank the other people who helped you stay afloat: your mail person, delivery drivers, vendors and suppliers, grocery clerks, and all the other essential, often invisible workers who power our economy.
5. Think beyond Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Lots of people eagerly anticipate holiday shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But you know what’s more exciting? What people don’t expect. By thinking beyond typical shopping days, you can distinguish your brand and reach customers in a more authentic manner.
Take REI, for example. The outdoor gear retailer has earned significant press and customer loyalty over the past few years by making a point of closing stores on Black Friday and encouraging people to go outside.
Now is a perfect time to try a similar strategy—to show that you value your employees’ and customers’ well-being more than commercialism—or to launch your big holiday campaign on a different day (Tax Prep Tuesday? Home Services Sunday?).
6. Invite your team together for a virtual happy hour.
Happy employees create happy customers. Brighten your team members’ day by bringing the holiday party online this year and hosting a virtual happy hour over your video-conferencing app of choice.
7. Host a virtual networking event.
Why stop at bringing your team together virtually? Get your company’s name out there and start building relationships by inviting friends, local business owners, and community leaders to a remote holiday meet-and-greet. If you’d rather not host the event yourself, you could see if a colleague (or even a competitor!) might be interested, or propose the idea to your local chamber of commerce or BNI chapter.
8. Donate to a local nonprofit organization or hospital.
This one’s easy—and if your business is like most, there’s a good chance you’re already doing it. Supporting a nonprofit is a great way to drum up publicity for your business while making the world a better place. If you’re not sure how to give back, ask your employees or customers for ideas. People are more than willing to talk about the causes that mean something to them. And when in doubt, donate to your local hospital—they could probably use it right now.
9. Raise money for a cause.
Aside from donating directly, you can scale your impact by engaging other people to give. Host a fundraiser or pledge drive, or match donations from your customers, employees, and/or social media followers.
10. Give people something to look forward to next year.
One of the most powerful ways to instill hope is to work toward positive change. Maybe that means launching a new business initiative to serve low-income people in your community, or making your services more environmentally sustainable.
But if you’re not quite ready for something that big, that’s okay. A new business offering, website, or brand refresh for 2021 can spur hope and excitement as well. Anything you can do to shift the focus from this year to next will help your customers feel optimistic and keyed into what’s ahead for your business.
11. Surprise your customers with small gifts and gestures.
This time of year is typically when customers can expect fun seasonal surprises like free cookies and gift raffles. Your business can (and should!) keep the spirit alive remotely. Mail little presents to random customers—not to be opened until Christmas, the first night of Hanukkah, or another holiday occasion. Make a donation in a client’s name. Offer a glimpse of 2021 by sending your mailing list a sneak peek of a new webpage, or a new product or service offering.
Get creative and act charitably. No one ever went out of business by being a little more generous during the holidays—just ask Ebenezer Scrooge.
12. Take a break.
Finally, don’t forget to give yourself a gift—the gift of some quality time away from your business. Take a few days off (or more) to spend with your family, friends (responsibly and socially distanced, of course), a good book, or holiday TV and movie marathons. Then again, watching The Twilight Zone might not be so fun now that we live in it…
Anyway, make sure to take care of yourself in the weeks ahead so you can start 2021 fully restored and rejuvenated.
Delight your customers and get some much-needed rest this holiday season with Ruby. We’ll handle your phone calls and website chat for you, ensuring your business makes the most of every opportunity to connect with customers.
Interested in getting more customer experience tips? Download our comprehensive checklist and level up how you make your customers feel.