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Now that the long and slow days of summer are gone, online businesses are gearing up for the most profitable period of the year – the holidays.
Regardless of your budget, you can take proactive steps to maximize your profit potential this coming season. By using a highly-visual social media platform like Instagram, you can make the most of low-cost, targeted marketing campaigns.
It may seem like this a time when giant, big-name brands take over the market with their expensive ads, leaving smaller companies in the dust. If you have a product that’s sold online, don’t sit on the sidelines and let your competitors own the spotlight. Most of all, don’t let your budget limit your sales abilities.
More than likely, you’re already utilizing many forms of social media to promote your business. The question is: are you using the tools available to you and your brand in the most strategic and efficient way possible?
Every social media platform has its own strategy; in order to capitalize on Instagram, you’ll need to start preparing now so you can reap the benefits later. Use these five tips to maximize sales using Instagram this holiday season.
- Use Each Holiday as a Campaign Theme
Holidays are more than just traditions that fall on the same dates every year, they’re psychologically-driven and deeply emotional events for consumers. Each holiday brings a different set of appropriate expectations and serves as a start-and-stop point for certain behavior.
Holidays aren’t static and it follows that your marketing campaign shouldn’t be either. Use each holiday as a campaign theme that can speak more directly to the particular set of feelings and events associated with them.
Look to those same large companies you thought would overshadow you for inspiration. Their approach to marketing usually accounts for the mental changes consumers experience during the holiday season. To master your specialty, read up on marketing reports that study how holidays affect consumer behavior.
- Follow Holiday Color Schemes
Don’t use the same Instagram avatar or header all year long. Follow brand-appropriate holiday color schemes in your social media profile and its content. You don’t need to hire a pricey creative agency to do this. There are plenty of free or low-cost tools available for this purpose, such as Canva or BeFunky, which you can use to develop a relevant theme that adheres to your branding.
Why is this so important? It’s impossible to overestimate the significance of small details. Even a simple color change can lead your consumers to think you’re more personable and spirited; after all, you’re honing in on their lifetime nostalgia and purchasing habits.
- Know Your Audience Better
Follow changes in your audience’s behavior during this time of year. Social media analytics should be your bread and butter. They can tell you when your desired customers are online the most and how you can promote efficiently.
Consumers will have more time-off at particular points of each fall month, and there’s no use spending unnecessarily on disappointing ads that will never reach them. Refine your posting schedule and don’t throw money at costly, poorly targeted promotions. Take advantage of the free analytics built into Instagram and other social media platforms, and identify the exact dates and times you should be posting.
- Use Holiday-Specific Discount Codes
There’s a science to how and why people buy what they do. It’s time to put on your psychologist’s hat again to better understand your followers.
It’s no surprise that discount codes (even relatively insignificant ones) can entice consumers to purchase. Seeing that attractive ‘free shipping’ or ‘10% off’ label at the top of the item or webpage could be the nudge customers need to click that coveted ‘add to cart’ button.
Think bigger than your budget. You may assume you can’t afford popular Instagram influencers for a one-time product campaign. Instead, explore offering holiday-specific discount codes personalized to a specific Instagram influencer. They receive a commission based on their ability to engage their audience, and you benefit from sales and a follower boost. It’s a win-win scenario. If it adheres to one of your tailored holiday marketing campaigns, then it can keep them eager to promote via high-performing selfies.
- Create Gift Guides for Your Followers
One of the obvious features of the average consumer is a general tendency toward laziness. They’re busy, tired, over-worked and are likely dealing with an influx of visiting family members. Make the decision to purchase your product that much easier by providing followers with Instagram gift guides.
Be person-specific. This is where you can get creative and have some fun in the midst of stressful marketing considerations. Create value for your followers by personalizing gift guides for fathers, sisters, best friends, co-workers or whoever is best targeted by your product.
The ideas are endless. Many people struggle to make buying decisions and would be happy to let you steer them towards the right purchase. For example, create a post that includes your product alongside others; consumers will thank you for being helpful and easing the burden of their long list of gift recipients.
Each of these strategies will push you closer to a record year of sales. No matter the size of your business, you can and should mine available resources for all they’re worth. More than anything, start promoting sooner rather than later or all of that value will siphon off into your competitors’ bottom lines. How you utilize Instagram over peak sales seasons like the holidays can set the foundation for long-term sales growth.
When it comes to mealtime with kids, it sometimes seems like pulling teeth to provide a healthy balance. Naturally, kids aren’t concerned with caloric intake, fat ratios, or nutritional value–all they care about is taste! But with childhood obesity on the rise, it’s more important than ever to inspire healthy eating behaviors in our kids.
Easier said than done? Well, the good news is that you may have more influence than you realize. According to a study by National Institutes of Health, “Parents powerfully shape children’s early experiences with food and eating, providing both genes and environments for children.” In other words, parents play a significant role in the development of their children’s eating behaviors, since they control what their children eat, as well as where and how.
However, to capitalize on this influence, parents need to promote family interaction at mealtime, and that means a move away from technology at the table.
Providing this environment of family togetherness is nothing new for the near-century-old company, Dixie Products. In an effort to get families off their mobile phones during dinnertime, engaging them in quality family time over great-tasting, healthy food, they created DeadZone Diners—pop-up restaurants with no cell-phone signal. Along with Carla Hall, celebrity chef and co-host of ABC’s The Chew, Dixie Products has hit many Los Angeles no-service zones with one goal—true, uninterrupted togetherness.
I recently visited one such DeadZone Diner location in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. While sampling the menu, I had the opportunity to chat with Chef Carla Hall about the impact of family togetherness in developing healthy eating behavior. When asked how to get kids on board with healthy family meals, she offered five helpful tips:
- Get Your Kids Involved in the Process
Engage them in the process—brainstorm meal ideas with them, take them along when grocery shopping, and give them hands-on meal prep tasks.
- Trust Your Kids
Even young children like to feel that they are ‘big kids’ and can handle anything that comes their way. Empower them by increasing their responsibility in the kitchen. Instead of merely having them fetch items, have them cut soft vegetables using kid-safe knives as you monitor and offer tips.
- Prepare Familiar Meals With a Healthy Twist
Burgers, hot dogs, and mac and cheese may be kid favorites, but they won’t make the cut for everyday healthy eating. Instead, experiment with healthy versions of those kid classics–your kids may even like the new version better than the original.
- Give Your Kids Some Freedom
Instead of simply deciding what’s for dinner yourself, ask them what they want to eat and why. This will give you a bit of a break, and provides an opportunity to talk to them about nutritional value.
- Make It a Regular Thing
Meatless Mondays? Kid-Prepared Wednesdays? Salad Sundays? In this day and age, it may be tough to gather loved ones for quality family time; scheduling a regular meal plan or tradition may become your favorite healthy planning tool.
If you’re ready to commit to healthy eating for you and your family, maybe it’s time to follow Dixie Products’ lead and create your own DeadZone Diner—at your dinner table. With these five tips from Chef Carla Hall, you’ll have your kids looking forward to healthy dinner prep and family table talk in no time!
This article is also live here via The Huffington Post.