The holiday season is the busiest for many retailers, accounting for 30 percent of their annual sales.
The average holiday spend over the past 10 years in the U.S. has been roughly $740 billion. Spending on gift cards has also increased during the course of the past decade.
If you want to promote your small business this holiday season, you need to prepare in advance.
We have detailed five strategies that will help you prepare for this holiday season.
Start Early and Have a Plan
• Hire and train staff — Due to the seasonal nature and high competition begin looking at hiring and training staff immediately. You want to put your business’ best foot forward and a highly trained and motivated staff is what you want to have to handle the holiday season rush.
• Plan specials, events — Organize Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals and Christmas specials.
• Inventory Check — Make sure you have or have lined up the required inventory for your events and specials.
• Back up plan —Based on your prior experience come up with “what if” scenarios and have back up plans for these scenarios.
Focus on Customer Engagement
Now that you have lined up your events and specials, it is time to let your existing and potential customers know about these specials. The earlier you let your customers know about these specials/events the better off you are.
• Create events/specials on your website and social media sites — If you plan to host any kind of event, it is better to have a landing page where your customers might sign up (on Facebook or on your website)
• E-mail marketing — Build your customer e-mail list and start sending those on the list links to events and specials so that your customers can plan accordingly
• Social Media – Have an advertising budget that you would like to spend for promoting these specials and events.
• In-store decoration — Decorate your store early on based on your planned activities. Have posters, lights and other kinds of festive décor.
• Plan Co-Marketing Activities — The more the merrier and this applies to the holiday season. Have a plan about which local merchants/partners you can work with.
• A value proposition for your partners, customers — If you are a retail toy store, reach out to local Montessori schools with specials for kids or if you are a restaurant work with a local mall to see if you can give customers a freebie.
• Come up with and execute a promotional plan — that includes the customer base of yours and your strategic partner
Emphasis on Gift Cards
Over the past 10 years, there has been an increase in the amount that customers are spending on gift cards. As a small business you can ride this wave:
Identify whether you want to have physical or eGift cards or both
Identify with whom you would like to partner with (for example you can join OpenTable Gift program – https://go.opentable.com/rd-gifts.html).
If possible have an offer on gift cards and promote the availability of the cards (sell them online, social media and in the store)
Even though this falls within the ambit of co-marketing activities we want to emphasize the fact that the holiday season is also considered the season of giving.
Identify a local charity that your customers associate themselves with
Approach them to organize a fund raiser or some sort of an event. For example work with local Salvation Army or Toys For Tots to raise funds for kids/toys.
Promote the partnership and announce the results so that your customers can understand what kind of impact you/they had on this non-profit
To have a great holiday season it is imperative that you start early with a plan and set of activities that are inline with the plan. Define a set of metrics that you want to measure so that you can understand if your plan was successful for this year and how it can be improved for future holiday seasons. With the above five step strategic focus we are very sure that your business will have a great holiday season.
A serial entrepreneur with a focus on restaurant marketing, Seshu Madabushi has more than 15 years of experience working for Fortune 50 clients to mom and pop stores. In his latest venture, mKonnekt, he is creating a marketing platform that mines customer data to create personalized dining experiences. The platform consists of different modules that includes online ordering system (FoodKonnekt), loyalty program etc.