From Small Biz Survival

With all the flood of tips for retailers to get ready for the holidays, what about other businesses? How can service-based businesses get ready for the holiday season?

Make your services into a holiday gift.

Now, this is undoubtedly easier for some obviously giftable services like massage. But I bet we can find a way to make any service into something gift-worthy. People today are very happy to spend some money to save some time, so it makes sense for gifts, too. It’s just a matter of packaging.

The way you do it is to create something tangible, something the giver can wrap up with a bow and proudly hand to someone they care about. Here are some ideas to draw from.

Think of your service as a useful and fun product.
For an accountant, how about a “New Year, New Start Finances” package to help people get back on track after the holidays. Hey, we could use the “New Year, New Start” and “Get back on track after the holidays” model for health and fitness-related services, too! A lawn care service could come up with a “Honey-Do Holiday” package for winter clean up, limb trimming, driveway cleanup, whatever makes sense in your area. Home cleaning or other home services could offer a “Recover from the holidays” package.

The best bet is to sit down and brainstorm with a friend to come up with some gift-worthy packages of your own. The key is to get very, very specific about the service offered and how it fits into people’s lives.

Then it’s time to dress them up and make them fun to give.

Make real gift baskets.
Put your service together with some of the tools of the trade or accessories to make it more fun. The lawn care service could package a living potted plant that is well-suited to go outside later in the year. The accountant could put a set of budgeting envelopes or an RFID-blocking wallet together.

Then include your extra-special gift certificate.

Make your gift certificate extra-special.
Give it a big headline with the basics (amount, service, who from), then add some marketing text. Remember that the gift recipient didn’t pick this out. They probably don’t know anything about your service. Explain how they’ll benefit. Sell it. Make it wonderful to receive.

If you’re selling gift certificates to remote customers, create special certificates customers can print out on their own. Get with a designer and make something really special. Or use the myriad of templates and graphic services available. Make sure it will fit into a standard envelope for gifting!

Now that you’ve created some products of your own to retail this holiday season, it’s up to you to start marketing them. Work these into your marketing plan for the holidays. Partner up with retailers to place your gift baskets or gift certificates into their displays. Share them with your existing customers via email and social media.