For local businesses, the holidays are the key to a profitable year. Yet many business owners have little time to actually spend preparing their marketing efforts ahead of time. If this sounds like your business, then don’t worry. We have a few tips you can use now to positively impact your holiday sales.

Accurate Business Information

With so many holiday shoppers looking for gift ideas, on family outings and traveling (i.e. meaning consumers in unfamiliar places), ensuring your business information is accurate across the internet is vitally important.

So where do you begin? First and foremost, you need to ensure you have claimed your Google My Business profile, optimized it for your critical keywords, and made the changes to your website and directory listings to get on the map.

Then it’s about optimizing Yelp, Yahoo, Bing, CitySearch, FourSquare and other directories. Think you’ve already done this? Get a free report here.

Remember, half of all people who search for a type of local business on their mobile phone, call or go to that type of business within 24 hours.

Publish Holiday Shopping Ideas and To-Dos

This time of year especially, consumers are looking for ideas! They want some guidance on what to buy and where to shop. When you publish content about the products you have, the services you offer and current deals/coupons, you engage with your audience (and as the company offering them ideas, they may be more likely to do their shopping with you too).

As a restaurant, you could talk about special meals, why your venue is perfect for holiday office parties, family gatherings or special events. If your business is in events, explaining why the upcoming events are perfect for the holidays or thinking about how you can package up future experiences as gifts (gift certificates, class enrollment etc.) is key.

People are looking for inspiration and your business can provide it.

Engage Via Social Media

Small business owners have more tools than ever to engage directly with potential customers. A coordinated and geo-targeted Facebook ad campaign can be extraordinarily effective. In fact, 74% of consumers rely on social media for purchasing decisions. And 7 out of 10 of businesses say they have acquired a customer through Facebook.

Leverage your social media profiles to engage with customers, publish content and celebrate the season.

Make Sure Your Online Reputation is Pristine

Customers are depending on reviews more than ever so it’s time to clean up that online reputation. Be sure to respond to all reviews – both positive and negative. This shows potentials customers that you care!

And be sure to ask your satisfied customers to leave you a review. After all, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. And online reviews can also help improve your search engine ranking!

It’s early December and holiday lights are popping up all over town. Holiday commercials have taken over and the marketers are in full swing. How will your business capitalize on this season of spending? Be smart and decisive. Focus on accurate business information, timely engagement with customers and positive reviews. A little bit of effort will go a long way this holiday season.