By Jennifer Lutz

The inevitable post-holiday sales slump can be a tough time for small businesses and entrepreneurs. After a successful five- to six-week windfall during the Christmas season, the real challenge is keeping the momentum going and maintaining an ideal sales level.

Instead of simply buckling down and bracing yourself for the slow season, get ahead of the game by applying some creative sales techniques to preserve your relationship with your customers. Here are some ideas on how to hang on to your customers after the holiday season.

1. Offer coupons and gift certificates

One of the most effective ways to attract new and returning customers is to entice them with promos that save them time, money, and effort. Consider offering a coupon code on your site for free shipping or a percentage discount on purchases. Shoppers can share these coupons with their family and friends, and these coupons can be used even after the Christmas season.

Gift certificates are a boon for those who are doing some really late shopping. Recipients who visit your shop after the holidays are likely to spend more and become repeat customers if they like what they see.

2. Add value to your products

Consider giving your shoppers extra services such as free gift wrapping or complimentary product personalization. Once the holiday is over, customers often remember the retailers who provided them added value for their hard-earned buck, making them more likely to return to the store.

Offering a small gift with purchases is a good way to impress your customers. It also gives you an ideal opportunity to introduce your customers to your non-seasonal products.

3. Promote a cause

Try holding a contest or promotion to benefit a favorite charity. Determine which cause will benefit your community the most, and then build awareness for your good deed. As long as your intentions are sincere, this approach is a big win for everyone involved. You get to contribute to the community and generate long-lasting goodwill at the same time.

4. Make full use of social media

If discounts, freebies, and contests aren’t viable options for your business, you can still build a connection with your customers and expand your reach through social media.

As early as possible, prepare a calendar for your holiday social media posts, and use a scheduling tool to get your content posted at the appropriate date and time. Also, be sure to add a Pinterest button to your products. It’s a good bet that people will check Twitter and Pinterest during the lulls and downtime in Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.

If you have a Facebook page (and you should!), don’t forget to publish a post, image, or video to greet your fans during the holidays. A simple yet meaningful post will be greatly appreciated by your followers and can generate valuable interest and engagement.

This holiday, instead of concentrating on just orders and sales, apply the above post-holiday ideas and watch as your business continues to stay in your customers’ minds long after the winter season ends.

Jennifer Lutz writes about many holiday and home décor topics for Christmas Tree Market. You can read more of Jennifer’s work in the Christmas Tree Market blog.