One of the best ways fellow entrepreneurs can support small business (and each other) at the holidays is by joining forces to benefit everyone: businesses, employees, customers and the community.
By partnering with other businesses, you can spread holiday cheer while creating new sales opportunities for all involved. Here are some ideas for pooling your resources with other companies so everyone profits:
Inviting area businesses to work together in order to attract more customers is smart, but reaching out to vendors can reap big results. This autumn, Rachel Delia, the co-owner of Flask Brands, which manufactures all-natural lip balm, was invited to participate in a pumpkin spice latte-themed girls night out held at Boutique La Lune — where several of the boutique's vendors came, met customers face-to-face and donated prizes to raffles and giveaways. The event succeeded in entertaining customers and left them more enamored with the featured brands. Boutique La Lune plans to host similar events during other seasons, to which vendors will also be invited.
Buy Discounted Gift Cards from Area Businesses
Buy gift cards from other businesses at a discounted price that you later give out as customer incentive. That's what one regional bottled-water delivery company, DrinkMore Water, did in the Baltimore area. They reached out to area businesses that also served a health-conscious customer base and asked them to sell their $50 gift cards for $25.
DrinkMore Water then offered those gift cards to new customers, giving area bicycle stores, fitness clubs and healthy-eating restaurants a solid set of new prospects.
Trade Goods for Advertising
Luke Duke of Duke Marketing suggests partnering with a local florist for poinsettias and small Christmas trees to feature in your store or work area (perhaps with a little signage identifying the florist) in exchange for some extra advertising from your business. They can then use them as a customer incentive or a seasonal "thank you." It's a win-win: the florist gets some nice in-store advertising, and you get holiday decorations for a good price.
Duke also recommends offering to trade gift cards with a local movie theater and then giving customers, employees and partners movie passes as a token of appreciation during the holiday season.
Create Holiday Gift Baskets
Pulling together related products and compiling them in a holiday gift basket made available for sale by each participating company is a smart way to expand your customer base with the help of other businesses. That's what Katy Kassian of Buffalo Gals Mercantile does.
Based on a farm in North Dakota, Kassian partners with companies in other parts of the country to help market each other's goods. The holiday baskets include jewelry from Inner Flair, coffee from Mojo Roast, treats from Buffalo Baking Co. and handbags from Buffalo Gals. With all four companies marketing the gift baskets, they each receive four times the promotional power.
Consider partnering with a local charity to assist those in need in your community. For example, you could be a drop-off spot for Toys for Tots, designate a percentage of sales on a particular day to be donated to a certain cause or make a healthy donation to your favorite charity in the spirit of the season. People looking to donate toys will have to go to your store to do it. Sponsoring a local charity together is a great way to support small business (and bring a little good into the world) while also marketing your business. When potential customers see that you care about something besides business, they will be more invested in your company.
Opportunities to support other small businesses while building your own are plentiful during the holiday season. Try some of them to truly experience the joy of the season.