The SME’s Xmas; thriving not just surviving

Looking back at last year’s Xmas winners and loser league table (The Guardian Jan 13 2017), it would appear that those who struggled were those who did not innovate. Innovation enticed the taste buds of customers with offerings such as rhubarb or sloe gin, prosecco, and luxury wines winning the day for some retailers. Innovation in the form of buying better ranges, improved stock management, holding out to sell at full price and full margin also won through.

Increasing on line sales along with increased customer service expectations for superfast delivery and even super faster returns will be one of the differentiating factors between this year’s Xmas winners and losers.

But what about the SME’s? How will they thrive not just survive this Xmas?

Hopefully they will have a plan or multiple plans; a trading plan, customer communications plan and perhaps a contingency plan for bad weather, competitor impacts, winning locally etc. However, it’s never too late to connect with your customers and entice them to shop with you rather than be lured away to the dazzle of the big marketing budget spenders.

With volatile consumer confidence and the uncertainty of what Brexit will look like next week, let alone next year, how will SME’s win the hearts and minds of their customers?

In some respects they have the advantage; they should know their customers better, know their likes and dislikes together with the level of service their customer’s expect and deserve. The key is letting their customers know that you ‘know’ them and have what they really need for Xmas. Getting their message to resonate and stand out from the crowd.

So the question is ‘How’? How do they connect with their existing and potential customers at this key trading time and thrive not just survive? How do they drive them to their website, to their store, to be an advocate for their products? The answer points to cost effective targeting of relevant communications to receptive audiences. The art is using your insight to choose the medium which drives the best results for each message and audience type; this means it might not always be the cheapest method but it will deliver the best ROI. So consider all your marketing options but never forget how you want your audience to react upon receipt; email, direct mail, display advertising etc will all drive different customer behaviours and customer experiences too. Effective use of insight improves your sales conversion rate pushing you towards the top of the winners league this Xmas.