If you’re a small business owner, September means it’s time to start planning for the holidays. Are you ready? We spoke with our network of entrepreneurs, and collected the following tips that will prepare you for your small business’ most productive holiday season yet.
Start Planning Early
We all know that holiday shoppers shift their shopping habits online, but if last year’s trends continue, 30 percent of consumers will actually begin their holiday shopping prior to Halloween. Which makes now the perfect time to get your holiday plan for your staff, inventory, and marketing in place.
Let’s start with your staff. Depending on your business, the holiday season can be a particularly busy and stressful time for them as well as you. Consider their needs, and make sure that your holiday prep list includes ways to help them better serve your customers. For example, come up with lists of gift recommendations for different people, and share them with your staff. If you need to hire temporary holiday staff an early start will ensure that you have enough time to get them fully trained BEFORE the rush starts.
It can seem counterintuitive, but examining past years’ performance will help you better judge if you’ll need extra help and how many seasonal workers to hire this year. Beyond this, you can take this time to reevaluate who your holiday customers really are and plan your marketing strategy around them.
For example, if your business involves a lot of gift orders for companies, take a look at the volume you’ve done in the past two years, and see if there’s a trend. Plan ahead now to make sure you’ve ordered enough packaging, raw materials, or inventory. While you can’t anticipate every gift order ahead of time, knowing the general volume to look out for will help you keep your footing when things come in without advance notice.
Be Aware Of Trends – And Take Part in Shop Local Campaigns Last year we noticed a rise in “shop local” events across the country, and that trend was confirmed by the consulting firm Deloitte: Two-thirds of the folks they surveyed plan to shop locally this year – i.e. at small businesses which are not part of national chains. Some of the reasons they give are a desire to support the local economy, to find one-of-a-kind gifts, and because it’s just more convenient.
We’re talking to you! These trends are all in your favor as a small business owner, and by planning ahead now you can take advantage of them. Is your city or town running a “shop local” holiday campaign? A quick internet search or a call to your local Chamber of Commerce can help you find out. Taking the time now to make sure your business is on flyers and promotional websites will pay off once the holiday season rolls around. A Little Marketing Goes A Long Way A good marketing campaign takes weeks of planning – make sure you give yourself plenty of lead time, since you’re also juggling all of your small businesses’ priorities. Some things to try?
- A holiday sale or special holiday items. Tie your campaigns into a short-term increase in email marketing. Email marketing lets your customers know that your promotion is on its way, has arrived, and will be ending soon. Remember, urgency is key to getting people’s attention during this busy time of year. You’re competing with other companies, as well as their hectic personal lives.
- Reach people through several channels. Increasing email marketing frequency has the potential to generate additional revenue at next to no cost. Remember to tie that same messaging into your Facebook page, and Tweets.
- Your website. If you’re going to make changes to your website to marketing around the holidays, plan those out now to make sure they’re executed on time. And if you operate an e-commerce storefront, now is the time to get any upgrades and other changes made, before you hit peak sale time.
While others are simply sailing into September, proactive small business owners like you will reap the benefits of preparing for the holiday season early. The hustle and bustle of the holidays is a part of what makes the season so special, but that doesn’t mean your small business has to suffer! Take the time to plan now, so that you can profit later.