We are enjoying the British version of the “holidays” right now, with family vacations, road trips, beach days and long, lazy pool parties everywhere we turn.
But if you run a business, it’s time to start considering the American “holidays” – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years and the accompanying shopping season.
Why so early? Because if you’ve waited for July to start planning for the 2019 holiday shopping season, you are already late. A well put together campaign takes time. Shoppers begin their purchases earlier and earlier each year.
And if you plan on raking in as much as 30% of your annual revenue over the holiday season (not uncommon in the retail business), you should also plan how to do so.
In the interest of giving you a leg up this year, here are some steps to having the best holiday shopping season ever.
Don’t put off the brainstorming or implementation of holiday campaigns until the last minute. That’s how you end up with clichés, which is how you end up looking exactly like your competitors, which is how you end up competing on price and eating the difference.
And speaking of competitors…
Identify your main competitors.
Is there another local business you compete with? Do you lose customers to national retailers or online companies?
How can you recapture part of that business?
Use these insights when planning holiday promotions, events and campaigns. For instance, find a way to differentiate yourself from other local companies. Offer personal services that are unavailable from large, online retailers. Work on ways to retain last year’s customers while attracting new ones.
How much do you want to make this holiday shopping season? How many customers will you need to get there? How many people do you need to reach in order to attract that many customers? This, by the way, is where you use math in real life.
Think creatively. Do you want to run a promotion, feature an early bird sale, follow a theme or host a special event? What about partnering with a nonprofit, like a food bank or secret Santa?
Write down all the ideas, crazy or sane, and then get someone you trust to add a second set of eyes to the process. Which ideas will best serve your goals? Which will give you an edge over your competitors?
Make connections with non-competing local businesses, non-profits, events, and media. The more you can network your business, the more visibility you (and all your partners) receive.
Lay out a schedule.
Social media, emails, sales codes, ads and commercials – when do they all roll out? Make sure you do the prep ahead of time to avoid last-minute overwhelm.
Create a positive culture.
Working retail can be a nightmare during the holiday shopping seasons. What can you do to promote a healthy company culture, support your employees and make this a fun time of year?
Spend the next few months getting all the ducks lined up, organizing plans B through X, implementing policies, producing ads and the like.
It’s one thing to say you hope to make X amount during the holidays, and another entirely to meet or exceed your financial goals.
Some deliberate forethought and advance preparation can bridge that gap between “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,” and “chestnuts roasting on an open fire.”