You need one more thing to worry about, don’t you. With the economy still in a mess and small businesses squeezed to the max, the last thing you should be worrying about is the holidays. But you have to do something. After all, customers are what keep your business alive.
American Express OPEN Small Business Holiday Monitor just released its results of the annual survey. It reveals some interesting information.
Less than half (47%) of small businesses plan to give gifts to customers this holiday season on par with last year (52%), and their total customer gift budgets remain steady versus last year ($455 in 2009 vs. $457 in 2008). But in this economic environment, fewer small business owners (35%) are giving employee gifts (vs. 46% in 2008), 31% have plans to give year-end bonuses (vs. 44% in 2008) and 16% will give raises (vs. 30% in 2008). Almost half of business owners (47%) will give employees time off over the holidays, even with last year (47%), although they are less inclined than last year to participate in a volunteer activity with their employees (19% in 2009 vs. 28% in 2008). Overall, more than two thirds of business owners (69%) do not believe the worst of the U.S. economic woes are over, and nearly six in ten entrepreneurs (57%) say the economic downturn has changed their holiday gift giving behavior.
- Four in ten are specifically planning to give fewer gifts or less expensive customer or employee gifts (42% each)
- 28% are avoiding laying out cash for gifts by using reward points, bartering, or using their own company’s products/services
- 23% are no longer giving gifts to clients And with one in ten planning to increase their customer gift giving this year, some business owners are planning to use the downturn as an opportunity to win over more customers.
If you can swing it. it would be a good idea to join those small business owners who are increasing their customer gift giving this year. Saying thank you is important and in this economy it can make your business stand out in the crowd. People will remember what you did.
Here are some “gifting” ideas from Alice Bredin, American Express OPEN business advisor.
- Put time into selecting gifts in place of big spending (personalized golf balls instead of seats to a game)
- Focus on consumables (small gourmet items make a great impression)
- Dress up inexpensive gifts with great wrapping •Go green. The “less is more” spirit of items with the environment in mind (soap created by an artisan, wrapped in all natural twine, rather than large gift) can dovetail nicely with small budgets
- Pair things creatively for flair (gourmet popcorn with a classic DVD)
So there you have it. Some creative ways to turn your customers into raving fans. Do you have additional ideas? Please leave a comment.