Connecting With Holiday Shoppers: 10 Takeaways

If your business doesn’t have a plan in place to take advantage of eager holiday shoppers, don’t waste one more second—read this workshop recap now and learn how to connect with holiday shoppers.


‘Tis the season for holiday shopping. Is your small business positioned to receive its share of the $1 trillion predicted for 2019 holiday spending? Cleveland’s Hispanic Business Center’s Cole Worley presented a workshop on how to do just that at COSE’s Small Business Resource Fair in October.

Here are 10 takeaways from the presentation to get your holiday sales soaring.

  1. There’s still time. While ideally you’d start putting together your holiday strategic plan in September, 51% of holiday shopping occurs in November and December so there is still plenty of opportunity to be had.
  2. Black Friday isn’t everything. Buyers are looking for deals all season long so be sure to give thought to the discounts, sales and other opportunities you can offer over the next several weeks.
  3. Last-minute sales are key. Come up with a plan to draw in those procrastinators as the holidays near. Make sure to offer the option to purchase gift cards online—especially from their mobile devices. Convenience is important here.
  4. Free shipping is a must. Research shows that 80% of all online orders include free shipping. Consider free upgrades to faster shipping options toward the end of the season.
  5. Spark a sense of urgency. With Thanksgiving being at the end of the month, there is one less week for holiday shopping this year. Tell your audience this and encourage them to act now.
  6. Focus on list building. As a small business, one of the only things you have control over is your website and your contact list. Emails and retargeting advertisements are cheap ways to connect with your audience. They have to know you, like you and trust you before they buy something—it takes time and effort to build their trust but it’s worth it.
  7. Make the holidays a special time. Create holiday gift guides and new holiday pages to boost search engine optimization. Use holiday keywords and phrases such as “holiday buying guides.”
  8. Leverage social. Create exclusive offers for your social followers to make them feel special. They’ll appreciate the extra value they receive just by keeping up with you on social platforms.
  9. Plan for increased customer service. Expectations are high during this time of year; make sure you can engage and respond to customer service needs quickly on your website, via text and on social.
  10. Ensure optimal performance. Speaking of higher expectations, you have two seconds or less to make an impression on your web and social sites. Load times need to be fast or potential customers will move on quickly.

Don’t forget to support Small Business Saturday on November 30. Stay tuned for more information on opportunities from COSE on how you can show your support. And if you are a small business owner with a special offer for Small Business Saturday, please contact Allison Halco. You could be featured in our social media posts or in an upcoming issue of Mind Your Business.

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  • Next up: 3 Things to Know: Continuing to Support Small Businesses During COVID

    3 Things to Know: Continuing to Support Small Businesses During COVID

    We are several months into the pandemic and while people are becoming more mobile, many businesses—especially small businesses—are still struggling. Here are three steps you can take to help support and promote your favorite local businesses and small business owners.


    Toward the earlier days of COVID-19 people made a concerted effort to try to help out local restaurants by getting takeout, having food delivered and leaving big tips. Now we are several months in and people are becoming more mobile and frequenting more businesses. But it’s still important to focus your effort and your dollars on small businesses. Here’s how.

    First Thing to Know: You are an Influencer
    You may not be a social media influencer in the strongest sense of the word (or anywhere close, according to the teen/tween in your household), but you can bet that the followers you do have are paying attention. So when you have a good meal, experience excellent service, get a good deal or are enjoying a quality product from a local small business, let people know. Facebook it, tweet about it, make a TikTok dance about it—whatever moves you. It’s an easy thing to do but your family, friends, neighbors and other followers will take note and you’ll be doing those small businesses a big service. Along those same lines, if you choose to go old-school and leave a review via email or snail mail, that works too!

    RELATED: How Ya’ Doing? A COVID Check-In

    Second Thing to Know: The Holidays are Coming!
    Make your list and check it twice. It might only be the first few days of fall, but the winter holidays will be here before we know it—start planning now. What are some gifts on your holiday shopping list for your loved ones that you can purchase from a small business instead of a big box store? Don’t forget to consider memberships to local museums or entertainment venues, gift cards to local restaurants, or a personalized gift from a local shop.

    RELATED: Mid and Post-COVID Digital Marketing Strategies for Local Businesses

    Third Thing to Know: Scheduling a Service is a Win-Win
    Your family is home more often and your house is probably not as clean as it is under normal circumstances—a house-cleaner can help with that. Your kids are learning virtually and you are afraid they will fall behind—a tutor can help with that. As you’re trying to manage these unusual circumstances and wearing several different hats, you’re falling behind on tasks like yard-work, grocery shopping, cooking and myriad household projects. Scheduling a service from a local provider can help with all of these things and so much more. It’s truly a win-win situation for both you (and your family and your home) and local service providers who may be struggling right now. 

    RELATED: Read More from our 3 Things to Know Series

    Let us know some of your favorite small business experiences on twitter.

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  • Next up: Crowdfunding Legislation Clears Ohio House

    Crowdfunding Legislation Clears Ohio House


    The Ohio House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill that would permit intrastate equity crowdfunding under certain circumstances.  The Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) has continually offered support for the legislation.

    Building capacity and improving access to capital for businesses across the state is just one of the many important undertakings outlined by our members in the 2019 - 2020 GCP Public Policy AgendaAccess to capital promotes stability and greater predictability and can allow entrepreneurs to create jobs and thrive in an ever-changing environment. The importance of continuing to make strides to maintain an economic environment conducive to startup entrepreneurship cannot be understated and the need for Ohio not to lose ground on strides made in other states is critical to our collective success.

    House Bill 312 (HB 312) would allow Ohioans to invest in businesses through an online OhioInvests Portal.

    To read the entirety of GCP’s submission to the Ohio General Assembly on HB 312 click here.

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  • Next up: 3 Things to Know: Dealing With Downtime

    3 Things to Know: Dealing With Downtime

    Some small business owners are finding themselves with extra downtime while society continues to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are three things we think you should know about dealing with this downtime.


    While the life of a small business owner is never dull, if your business hasn’t pivoted its products and services to be relevant in the time of COVID, you may be experiencing a bit of downtime. Here are three things we think you should consider when it comes to dealing with downtime.

    First thing to know: It’s still a good time for networking. While in-person networking is (some may say thankfully) on hold right now, virtual networking is where it’s at. Learn how you can still build relationships even from the comfort of your home. Not only can you help grow your business, you can also keep personal connections going—which is pretty invaluable during times of isolation and distancing.

    Second thing to know: Now you can catch up on housekeeping items. It’s a good time to get to those things you keep putting off so that when you are back to fully functioning, your to-do list—and your mind—is clearer.

    Some examples include:

    Third thing to know: There are a lot of online options to keep you busy. From wellness opportunities like yoga and meditation, to professional development opportunities like graphic design and public speaking—you can find almost any type of offering online these days. We are also here to help keep you informed and continuously growing both personally and professionally. Continue to check back on our GCP website and our COSE website for events such as webinars and conference calls during this pandemic. You can even go back and watch some of our previously-run COVID-related webinars.

    Another option is to do some writing for us! We regularly feature articles from our members, and we would love to hear from you. Reach out to Marie Zickefoose at if you would like more details on contributing to our Mind Your Business blog.

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  • Next up: Destination Cleveland Launches Clean Committed Initiative

    Destination Cleveland Launches Clean Committed Initiative

    Destination Cleveland, Cleveland’s destination marketing & management organization, recently launched a CLEAN COMMITTED initiative that asks restaurant owners to help ensure a safe and responsible reopening of Cleveland’s hospitality, entertainment and tourism industries. Given the facial covering mandate for the State of Ohio, this is also an opportunity to receive complimentary, individually packaged masks to provide to your customers, along with access to clean & safe products.   

    The program requests a voluntary commitment to a standard set of cleanliness practices to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. The practices were developed in partnership with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, Cleveland Clinic, The MetroHealth System and University Hospitals. Restaurant owners in Cuyahoga County that make the CLEAN COMMITMENT will receive signage to display that indicates their commitment and their clean practices. Destination Cleveland is encouraging locals and visitors to keep an eye out for the CLEAN COMMITTED seal when eating out, shopping, visiting a local attraction, or enjoying a night away from home at a local hotel. More than 500 local businesses have already been added to the CLEAN COMMITTED Business Directory! Check it out, here:


    There is no cost for restaurants to participate; they simply need to be located in Cuyahoga County and agree to be CLEAN COMMITTED. Upon agreeing to this uniform approach to responsibly reopen, restaurants will receive:  

    • 100 complimentary consumer CLEAN KITS (each sealed package consists of one-single use, three-ply disposable paper mask; 3 PURELL SINGLES® Advanced Hand Sanitizer Packs; suggested safe practices for exploring*) 
    • 2 posters and 2 window clings to promote their commitment to customers 
    • Access to a digital toolkit with assets to help promote their business as CLEAN COMMITTED  
    • Inclusion on the CLEAN COMMITTED Business Directory on, which will be promoted to locals and supported through an integrated marketing campaign (to include radio, digital, OOH, PR).  
    • Access to order bulk supplies that promote cleanliness and help protect people through Destination Cleveland's assembly and distribution partner, Supply Side Group.   

      * Practices outlined by Destination Cleveland, Cuyahoga County Board of Health, Cleveland Clinic, The MetroHealth System, and University Hospitals. 


    Restaurants can follow these three easy steps to agree to be CLEAN COMMITTED and obtain their complimentary materials: 

    1. Visit
    2. Complete the form at the bottom of the page, agreeing to follow these practices  
    3. Copy and paste the promo code provided after completing the form and use it in the checkout on the e-commerce site to claim your complimentary CLEAN COMMITTED Business Kit and delivery address. 

    Questions can be sent to Destination Cleveland at  

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  • Next up: Economic Development Finance Professional Certification Program Comes to Cleveland

    Economic Development Finance Professional Certification Program Comes to Cleveland


    The National Development Council’s (NDC) Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP) Certification Program™ is underway in Cleveland through a generous sponsorship from Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) and Cleveland Development Advisors (CDA). 

    GCP and CDA provided 25 scholarships to local economic development professionals and negotiated enrollment in the EDFP program at a reduced rate for 10 additional students.

    Organizations across Northeast Ohio are represented in the first Cleveland cohort, including the Northeast Ohio Hispanic Center for Economic Development, Famicos Foundation, Asian Services In Action Inc., MidTown Cleveland, Lake County Ohio Port and Economic Development Authority, Cuyahoga County Department of Development, Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, Metro West Community Development, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Inc. and the cities of Beachwood, Brook Park, Cleveland, Cuyahoga Falls and Rocky River.

    The class of 46 wrapped up their first week of instruction, ED101 – Economic Development Finance, on Friday, September 20.

    “As community stakeholders work collectively to forge a path forward in Cleveland’s neighborhoods that supports prosperity and opportunity for all, we determined it was vital to offer our Community Development Corporations and other practitioners this valuable educational programming provided by The National Development Council,” said Cleveland Development Advisors president and GCP executive vice president Yvette M. Ittu.

    Designed to build development finance capacity, EDFP Certification is geared toward professionals who want to grow their knowledge and learn the skills needed to make successful deals and translate them into results for their communities. The robust coursework includes four, five-day sessions covering topics ranging from business credit analysis and real estate finance to appraisals, deal structuring and syndication.

    Since NDC’s establishment as a national nonprofit in 1969, they have trained more than 75,000 practitioners in what the organization calls “the art and science of economic and housing development finance.” Course instructors include community and economic development officials, bankers, developers, entrepreneurs and government agency leaders, all of whom bring real-world experience and acumen to the classes they teach.

    In-person EDFP courses are also currently available in Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Philadelphia and an online program is offered as well.

    Learn more about GCP’s work in economic development and find out more information about NDC’s Economic Development Finance Professional Certification Program™.


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