Most retailers consider the holiday shopping season to be one of the most important times of the year, and this is no different for custom framers. The typical pattern in custom framing is that business owners will see very little fluctuation in traffic in the first ten months of the year. Then once November and December hit, traffic is off-the-charts compared to the rest of the year.
You can turn this year’s gift-buying season into one of the best yet by getting involved with your community and engaging customers with excitement for the season through events. Here are some ways you can identify the best opportunities for events and ways that they can expand the reach of your marketing and promotional efforts.
At The Frame Workshop, we offer an extensive collection of gift items year round, and our collection grows significantly during the holidays. Drawing customers in through events at our store is a great way to get customers into the holiday mood and build more interest in our seasonal gifts.
One of the things that we are known for is our nutcrackers, as we carry some of the most sought-after items from German designers. Each year, we host at least one designer for a signing event. For example, Gunther Ulbricht from the renown nutcracker makers, Holzkunst Christian Ulbricht, GmbH, will be at our shop this year for our annual Christmas Open House.
Our events change each year due to the artists’ availability, but we always have something for our nutcracker collectors. People in the community look forward to these shows, and we make them more welcoming with extras like wine and cheese. In fact, partnering with a local wine shop or specialty food store is a great way to tie your event into the community even more.
Don’t be discouraged if an event doesn’t meet your expectations the first year or so. It takes time to establish your event and for it to become a part of your customers’ holiday routines. If you keep doing the things that work, you will see a return on your investment.
Engage your community
When talking with other small business owners, I always encourage them to step out of their shops and get involved in the community. Supporting local holiday events is a great way to do this, and the benefits are two-fold — connecting with customers and increasing goodwill with community organizations. Something as simple as serving hot chocolate at the local tree lighting ceremony can be an effective way to connect with customers. Each community has its traditions, so be on the lookout for creative ways to get involved.
Some shops will have opportunities that better link to their products or services. For example, because of our selection of nutcrackers, The Frame Workshop decorates and provides nutcrackers to a local museum display room during the holidays. In the past, we’ve even participated in a parade. Not only does this promote our support to our local community, but it’s also another chance to connect with customers, keeping us top of mind for holiday shopping.
Deck your halls
Do not underestimate how much of an impact a festive setting can have on foot traffic. By the middle of November, The Frame Workshop looks like a winter wonderland, with 12 to 15 decorated trees and 600 Nutcrackers, and every year we hear compliments from our customers.
Refreshing the shop is particularly important during the holidays when foot traffic is on the rise. During the fourth quarter, our displays transform to reflect the celebrations of our customers’ lives, from Halloween and Thanksgiving to Christmas and Hanukkah. Make sure to change your displays several times throughout the season. With so many customers coming in more than once, it’s good to show them something different each time. The same practices should be applied to any signage, such as an A-frame sign, that can be easily updated.
Window displays are a huge opportunity for independent custom frame shops, especially those in high-traffic shopping areas. One point of caution, though — resist the temptation to be cute or clever with framing. This is a good time to showcase the fact that framing is part of the home environment. Display examples of framed family portraits and holiday cards, which are popular projects at many shops. You can also create examples of unusual projects customers have brought in to inspire gift ideas. One project that received a lot of attention at our shop was a Christmas puzzle one of our employees framed in a shadowbox.
Making a bigger splash with marketing and promotions
All of these activities engage customers and draw them into your shop, but they also provide even more occasions to reach out through things like e-blasts, mailings, social media and other marketing tools. Even if a customer doesn’t make it to an event, promoting events in advance and posting photos afterwards will keep you on their holiday shopping radar. Make sure to include visuals, whether it’s a photo from an event, a specific product that will be featured, or even a shot of your festive displays or an inspiring project.
To help ease the rush, tap into the marketing tools that Tru Vue® has developed to support you during the busy holiday season. Click here to find our easily customized e-blast templates that make creating your newsletter a snap and images of creative project ideas to include in mailings and social media outreach.
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This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tru Vue or its employees. Tru Vue does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.