The Holiday Look Ahead: 7 Ways to Prepare for the Busy Holiday Season

The holiday season can be a much-needed Q4 sales booster for small businesses. Last year, COVID-19 changed a lot about small business holiday operations. The holidays will look a little more normal this year and there are lots of opportunities to recuperate last year’s losses and boost your sales. Rethinking your 2021 holiday marketing strategy can drive foot traffic, increase customer satisfaction, and supercharge your profitability. Keep these considerations in mind as you prepare for the busy holiday season.

Set Seasonal Goals

Setting clearly defined sales goals is a vital part of any marketing strategy. You need to know exactly where your advertising budget is going and what initiatives are most effective at driving new business. Quantify your sales and marketing goals so you can track and measure your goals.

S.M.A.R.T. marketing targets are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Here are a few examples of the types of goals you should set:

  • Increase November web traffic by a certain percent
  • Grow social media followers by a specific number
  • Boost December 2022 sales 4% more than last year
  • Gain x amount of leads this month from the referral program

Plan Your Holiday Promotions

According to the National Retail Federation, nearly 20% of all retail sales occur in the month of December. Devising a strong promotional strategy will help you capitalize on the season of spending. Set specific marketing targets and goals for each of your sales events. Here are the major holidays you should have a promotional plan for this holiday season:

  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving
  • Black Friday
  • Cyber Monday
  • December Holiday Sales
  • Hanukkah
  • Christmas
  • After Christmas Sales
  • New Year’s Sale

Choose Your Holiday Marketing Themes

Your target market needs to be your main focus when creating holiday marketing themes. Find themes that resonate with your ideal customer and choose advertising touchpoints those customers use on a regular basis.

For instance, local businesses can host a holiday market and invite complimentary community-based businesses to join in the fun. If you have a specialty food store, invite local artisans, cheesemakers and tea shops to set up in your retail space. This strategy focuses on local support, which supports your brand identity while helping your business reach new customers in your key demographic.

Decorate Your Store

Setting the holiday atmosphere has to be an essential part of your holiday sales plan. Holiday decorations will help you set the stage for higher sales. A festive storefront will invite customers into your store and holiday-themed merchandising makes your products even more appealing to shoppers.

Add holiday décor like fake fall leaves, wreaths, Christmas trees, lights, and signage to your storefront and window displays. You can leverage décor to boost sales with a strong merchandising strategy too. Use banners and custom table cloths to highlight seasonal merchandise with prompts like Gifts for Mom or Items for the hard-to-shop-for. Group inventory into categories that make it easy for gift-givers to find their perfect presents.

Tips for High-Conversion Campaigns

Targeting your audience is the secret to running high-conversion campaigns. Your holiday marketing strategy should be governed by the ideal customer profile or the buyer persona that promises longer customer lifetime value. Once you decide who your key customer is, you can design a campaign that resonates with these consumers.

While your specific campaign will be dictated by your target customer, these high-conversion strategies can be applied to a broad range of marketing programs:

  • Keep ad copy short and compelling
  • Opt for a cohesive multichannel campaign
  • Offer a reward or incentive for purchases and referrals
  • Showcase real customer testimonials with advertising assets
  • Create urgency with your sales messages
  • Price inventory to incentivize more purchases
  • Host holiday-themed events

Offer Customer Experience Options

An unforgettable customer experience is the best way to build lasting consumer relationships. The holiday season is the perfect time of year to focus on meaningful touchpoints. Here are some customer experience ideas to spark your creativity:

  • Offer gift wrapping services
  • Create unforgettable unboxing experiences
  • Partner with your vendors for product tutorials
  • Offer BOPIS or curbside delivery
  • Give a free gift with purchase

Train Seasonal Employees

Seasonal support is crucial for a great customer experience. Set your business and your employees up for success by hiring and training seasonal support staff. Host a holiday hiring event and recruit excellent employees with proper signage and promotion. Here are key things to include on your hiring event messages to recruit top talent:

  • Compensation rates
  • Employee benefits
  • Mission statement
  • Key job duties
  • Employment period

Once you’ve hired your seasonal staff, set them up for success with proper training. Brief new hires on customer service expectations, product profiles, and business operations. You can create a cohesive team of established and new employees with team building exercises. Purchase branded shirts for employees to wear while at work to create a cohesive team appearance.  Not only are branded clothes professional, but also gives customers a convenient way to locate staff when they need assistance.

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