As 2018 drew to a close, 26 percent of Americans made New Year’s resolutions, says Jaime Ballard, data journalist with YouGov. Unfortunately, Ballard says, only 31 percent of people that make a resolution stick to it.
We all know what we should do to be healthy and happy, and our resolutions reflect that knowledge. But despite our best intentions, life gets messy, and we let our promises slide.
Every broken promise is an opportunity. As a small business owner, you can turn the tide and help your customers stick to their New Year’s resolutions. Your help could ensure that they stay with you as loyal customers, year in and year out.
Here are some of the most common New Year’s resolutions, along with a few ideas about how you can put them to work for your local business.
Your Customers Want to Exercise More
When people are asked how they’ll change their lives in the new year, exercise almost always comes to mind. A resolution like this is good news to local businesses that offer gym memberships, exercise clothing and fitness training. Unfortunately, everyone knows this.
As CityLab staff writer Linda Poon puts it: “This time of year is also when the fitness industry ramps up its advertising—playing up a sense of inadequacy—and reaps the benefits.”
Still, research suggests that increased advertising at the beginning of the year does boost business. Data journalist Kathryn Gessner reports that Planet Fitness, for example, saw a 79 percent jump in new memberships in January 2017, when compared to a typical month.
But exercise burnout is real, and many customers that start gym memberships in January walk away from that commitment by March. To help your customers really stick to a fitness plan, your marketing strategy should do more than just enroll them; it should persist. Encourage long-term commitment with the following tactics:
- A year-round price with perks. If you set your own pricing structure, look for ways to reward loyal customers. A discount at the six-month mark could help them keep coming back.
- Use social media to inspire. Share workout tips, fitness playlists and other inspirational content to keep your customers engaged.
- Remember to share. Encourage members to spread the word about your business: Working out with a friend or family member can help them stick to their resolution.
Your Customers Want to Eat Better
Customers who resolved to improve their diet and eat right could be music to your ears if you run a local restaurant, catering business or meal-planning service. You could even use this resolution to spark sales in kitchen supplies.
Food powers everything we do, and in theory, almost every decision we make can be traced back to a desire to eat right. Pair your services with an ancillary business, and you could inspire your customers to change their entire lives.
“Once consumers start thinking more carefully about their dietary decisions, they naturally start thinking about other ways they can enhance their health. One obvious way? Figuring out how to get more physically active, which might mean joining a health club or fitness studio,” explains Ben Midgley, CEO of Crunch Fitness Franchise.
Seek out other small businesses in your area, and look for ways to tie your services together. Co-host a wellness event, share discount ideas or host pop-ups in one another’s spaces.
The best business to partner with is one in the exercise industry. “As exercise is the driving force behind jump-starting healthy lifestyle changes in the new year, healthy food marketers should consider associating their products with exercise to make the food a part of the emotional experience of healthy activity,” says Mike Gallinari, travel and leisure analyst at market research firm Mintel.
Your Customers Want to Save Money
If money-saving resolutions make you think of budget books, piggy banks and savings accounts, you’re not alone. Anyone working in office supplies, financial planning or banking has a marketing task to tackle in the new year.
For local retail businesses, it’s time to advertise items related to budgets and saving. Make them easy to find on your website, and if you can, sell them at a discounted price. But build on those campaigns to ensure that your customers stay motivated to save.
Customers can be coached to reward themselves for hitting small savings milestones. “For example, if you can consistently make it out the door with your home-brewed coffee every morning for two weeks, then sure, get that better travel mug as motivation to continue the behavior. Made it to the one-month mark? Go for the better coffeemaker,” says certified financial planner Kelli Grant.
Factor in those rewards as you build your marketing plan. Explain your coffeemaker’s price in terms of daily coffee cups. Or that foregoing one daily Starbucks’ grande for a month is a night out for two at the movies, with popcorn.
Know that some of your customers might need to earn money on the side before they can save up. How can your business help? Consider yarn loyalty programs for your knitters, or offer dedicated workspaces for your freelance writer clients in your coffee shop. Support them as they build their side business, and they’ll never forget you.
Your Customers Want to Reduce Stress
Stress reduction is a lofty goal, and you can support it by making your customer experience as stress-free and enjoyable as possible during the holiday rush.
“During stressful times, it is incredibly important for brands to step up and reduce as much customer stress as they can. Instead of adding to the mounting piles of things a person needs to deal with, companies should aim to simplify and reduce the load,” explains Blake Morgan, author of “The Customer Of The Future: 10 Guiding Principles For Winning Tomorrow’s Business.”
After the holidays die down, don’t let up on exceptional customer service. Ensure that your website is working and that consumers can find what they want. Reach out in person if customers express frustration either in real time or on social media. Ensure you have enough staff to treat your customers right.
The focus on customer service is intentional. “Almost two out of every three women surveyed said they find basic customer service the most stressful aspect of shopping! Customer satisfaction based on checkout lines and interactions with your salespeople is a direct reflection of your people,” says Michele Eby, instructional designer at Media Partners.
Sticking to resolutions is stressful. Make your local business a haven for the stressed, and customers will come back to you when they need to stick to their resolution — and even when they don’t.
Your Customers Need More Sleep
If you run a local mattress or bedding supplies business, you know that January is the time to push your wares through Google shopping ads. Consider injecting an element of education into those ads. While customers know they should sleep better, they may not understand why. And that knowledge could keep them motivated to purchase new mattresses, pillows and sleep-related products.
“As an industry, we’re making progress in getting the word out, but more work remains to be done at every level. We need to include more of these messages in our advertising and also do a better job of training so that consumers have more access to this information,” says Mark Quinn, cofounder of mattress manufacturer Spink and Co.
Look for ways to offer sleep solutions to customers across the economic spectrum. “It is worth pointing out that many sleep aids on the market are incredibly expensive–and are out of reach for many people who might really need them,” says Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., senior staff writer at Fast Company.
If your customers can’t afford your most luxurious bedding, perhaps they can benefit from a free meditation app to help them fall asleep. You could offer chamomile tea samples to all customers during a special promotion. And your social media sites could be filled with sleep tips anyone can use.
Your Customers Want to Spend More Time with Friends and Family
Spending more time with family is a popular New Year’s resolution, coming in higher than wanting to travel more or learn a new skill, notes Ballard in her YouGov article. Your local business might be able to help make that happen.
Joe Wadlington, global creative lead at Twitter, recommends tapping into the planners in your audience. They’ll need time to coordinate trips and special occasions with family members.
“Whether someone is making new year resolutions or not, January is a time for planning. Create content that shows your expertise and draws customers in. For example, a travel company might tweet tips about planning trips months in advance, or a restaurant could target local foodies and remind them to book special dinners before reservations disappear,” he says.
Do it right, and you might see your customers talking to one another on your social channels. “Engage your followers and keep conversations going,” recommends Ian Aronovich, cofounder of GovernmentAuctions.org. When one party shares a recommendation with another, pop into the conversation and offer a discount or a word of encouragement.
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