RED BANK, NJ: It’s the most wonderful time of the year but for small businesses, it can also be the most stressful.  In all the hustle and bustle of the winter season, it can be easy to let stuff fall by the wayside as you try and keep up with everything.  This includes being unable to dedicate the time to your business’s marketing that you normally would.  

However, for local businesses, the holiday season often includes the most important weeks of the year as well as the most competitive.  So even if you can’t dedicate yourself to creating a full holiday marketing campaign, it would be wise to make sure you are still putting your best foot forward to attract those valuable holiday customers.  Here are 5 simple steps you can take to ensure your business has an informative and inviting web presence.

1. Get Access to Your Google My Business Listing

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Google My Business (GMB) lets anyone set up a free business listing and then manage how that listing appears on Google Search and Google Maps.  A GMB profile acts as an easy way to relay the most pertinent and valuable information about your business to potential customers, including hours of operation, your phone number and directions to your physical store(s).  It also acts as a convenient hub for sending out promotions, answering questions, obtaining reviews, creating ads and talking with customers.

Many companies just claim their listing and do nothing with it, or worse, just let it sit there unclaimed.  Don’t be like those businesses. A completed GMB listing is not only helpful to customers, it also increase your standing with Google.  Business with proper GMB profiles are most likely to show up in Google’s Local Finder and on Google Maps as well as increasing your organic rankings in Google Search results.  

The holidays are already competitive.  Give yourself the best chance of reaching customers with an information rich Google My Business listing.

2. Make Sure Your Business Hours Reflect Your Holiday Hours

Nothing is more frustrating for a customer than doing last minute Christmas shopping, reaching your store and finding out you were closed that day, even though online it says you should be open.  

Take the time to check your Google My Business listing (and Yelp if you use that platform) and ensure your hours during the holiday accurately reflect reality.  Whether you are closing early for a company party or open late on Christmas Eve to grab those eleventh hour shoppers, GMB and Yelp have special hours features that allow you to set opening and closing times on certain days.  

You can also use GMB’s Update Post or Event Post features to let customers know if your are having an extended closure or shift in regular hours.

3. Make Sure Your Phone Number Is Correct

This is not just a Google My Business tip, but for every place your business’s phone number is displayed on the web.  If your phone number is incorrect anywhere and a person calls a wrong number, they aren’t likely to search further for the correct one.  The reality is that you just lost a potential customer.  

This is especially important during the holidays as more customers are going to be reaching out via phone calls to find out if you are open, can schedule services or have items in stock.  So take a minute to search your GMB listing, your website, other business platforms like Yelp and any social media accounts like Twitter or Facebook to make sure they all provide the same number.

This same idea applies to any other important contact information, like physical addresses and email. 

4. Create a Holiday Q&A

If every holiday season your phone is ringing off the hook with customers asking about hours, return policies, sales, deals, and other holiday specific questions, GMB’s Question and Answer feature is there to help.  The Q&A feature is crowd sourced, meaning users can leave questions as well as answer any questions but the business can also engage with the Q&A as well. 

Give users the power to make smart holiday decisions by proposing and then answering common questions around any special holiday policies as well as connecting with people who have questions or concerns.  Getting a direct response from the business can help validate other responses and allows you to personally engage with a potential client.

5. Create Posts for Promotions and Events 

If you have a big holiday promotion or special event designed to get people in the door, whether that be a physical store or an online website, the simplest way to reach people is through Update and Event Post features.  

Offer Posts, for example, can be set with specific start and end dates, allowing it to stay live for longer than standard posts.  These kinds of posts are perfect for sales and deals but they also work great on promoting free services like estimates, consultations or gift wrapping.  Spice these up with an attractive photo or video to increase the attention your posts receive. You can also include coupon codes, gift ideas and links within the post to sweeten the pot.  Use Offer Posts to promote last minute deals to get those late customers to choose you over the competition.

Event Posts are perfect for events or short term sales offered at your store but they also can be used to promote events held at other venues.  This includes community or charity events your business is involved with. Customers like to see local businesses helping the community or being in the holiday spirit.

Now Your Business Is Ready for the Holiday Season

There is always more you can do to help the holidays be even more lucrative for your business, but that may require time and energy you cannot spare at this busy time.  These 5 steps, however, are the quickest and simplest way that you can ensure your business is ready for the holiday rush. And be sure to use the increased holiday traffic to connect with new customers so they will be coming back to your business long after the season has receded into the distance.

JSMT Media is a web design and digital marketing company based in Tinton Falls, NJ.  We work with businesses of all sizes to help them achieve their online goals and grow their business.  

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