Once the days start to get shorter and the weather turns cold, people get the urge to shop. As such, retailers both large and small have learned to anticipate and depend on the extra revenue that Q4 generally brings. After all, with Q4 sales seeing an average rise of 10.3% from year to year, it often feels as though Santa’s arrival is automatically going to turn even the most disappointing fiscal year into a holiday miracle.
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Well, here’s a hard lump of truth for you to put in your stocking: Santa’s got his own problems to worry about, and unless you have a solid marketing plan in place to help your small business take advantage of the upcoming winter rush, your organization could easily find itself out in the cold this holiday season.
Don’t limit yourself
Christmas may be the most obvious holiday for you to focus your marketing efforts on, but don’t put all of you eggs into just one gift bag; the holiday season comprises many different celebrations (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, Black Friday, New Year’s Day, etc.). By focusing a portion of your marketing efforts on a few of the less-utilized holidays, you’ll be able to expand your success beyond December 25th.
Revise your goals
Hopefully, you already developed a general marketing plan for the year back in January (if you haven’t, then there are guides available to help you do just that). That strategy took in the big-picture from all 12 months, and was centered on certain goals. But Q4 is a different animal, and before the insanity of the holiday season monopolizes all of your time, you’re going to want to review and reevaluate your goals. As with any marketing strategy, your goals should be detailed, measurable, and achievable.
Of course, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t reach for the stars. Goals that are difficult (but not impossible) to obtain will force you and your employees to try harder, thus ensuring a better outcome. Review your successes and failures from previous years, and then determine exactly where you want to improve. Oh, and make sure to write your goals down.
Despite the fun of holiday-themed store window displays, 89% of today’s customers prefer to do their shopping online, and 78% of customers base purchasing decisions on social media posts made by companies that they follow.
This means that if you’re not actively promoting your brand across multiple online platforms, both through promotions and useful or entertaining holiday-themed content, you’re sabotaging the number-one venue for customers to become interested in your products or services. And once you’ve established yourself on various social media sites, don’t forget to act social.
Customers who become interested will want to interact via comments and posts; make sure that you’re prepared to do so. Inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads on average than traditional marketing, so put enough emphasis on social media to do it right.
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Around the holidays, it’s not uncommon to see businesses going to great lengths to try and outdo each other—just take a look at how many retail stores this year are starting their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day—but those that are able to cooperate are often the ones that see the most success. This is especially true for small businesses. By combining resources with other organizations in your area and offering special cross-company promotions, businesses are able to share patronage.
Remember the spirit of the season
As stressful as the holidays can be for retailers and small businesses, they’re at least as difficult for the customers. Make a point to recognize this fact, and to show your appreciation for the business that your customers are bringing in. Whether you’re interacting in person or over the internet, keep things friendly, helpful, and upbeat. It seems like the most obvious tip imaginable, but it may be the most important, and is perhaps most likely to get forgotten in the holiday shuffle.