There are officially less than 100 days until Christmas. While for shoppers that may not sound like a looming number, for businesses this more than likely signals the “busy” season has just started. During the next few months, a number of holidays occur that can mean an extra boost to your bottom line. While it may only be September now, adequately preparing your business for the upcoming holiday season can help ease some of the stress and rush associated with this time of year.
The biggest culprit for poor sales is poor planning…
If you don’t know where to start, use this quick guide to help prepare for the holidays. Using these three simple actions, you’ll be on your way to becoming a holiday marketing master.
#1 – Create a marketing calendar.
The biggest culprit for poor sales is poor planning. If you don’t keep track of dates and how much time you need or have to put together your promotions, they will become rushed or you may not even run any at all. To avoid this, you’ll need to create a marketing calendar.
The first step always needs to be to determine what holidays you want to focus on. Mark those dates down on your calendar. Now you can work backwards to determine what other milestones or markers need to be met.
For instance, do you need to have time for speciality products to ship? Do you need time to create a special holiday package? If you are planning an event, how much time do you need to print and send marketing materials?
Create a list of things that need to be done by a certain time and then enter deadline dates on your marketing calendar. Don’t worry if you don’t know all the details right away. You will be updating your calendar often throughout this process.
For reference, below is a list of seasonal holidays and events that you may want to run specials or promotions for.
- Breast Cancer Awareness Month – October
- Halloween – Thursday, October 31st
- Hanukkah – November 27th – December 5th
- Thanksgiving – Thursday, November 28th
- Black Friday – Friday, November 29th
- Small Business Saturday, Saturday, November 30th
- Cyber Monday – Monday, December 2nd
- Christmas – Wednesday, December 25th
- New Year’s Eve – Tuesday, December 31st
- New Year’s Day – Wednesday January 1st
#2 – Determine your promotions.
Holidays are the perfect time to create extra value type products. If you run a retail store, you can do the obvious and sell holiday or seasonally themed merchandise. Even if you don’t have specific holiday items, you can take a look at existing inventory and see what items might sell better due to the holiday season. You can also create a more holiday-inspired feel with decorations and specials.
If you are a freelancer, you may not see how you can take advantage of this time of year. However, with a little creativity, just about any business can create some type of package or special product to produce extra sales during this time of year. Below are a few ideas:
Gardner/Landscaping: You can offer specials on “winterizing” customer’s yards. In addition, you can do something a little different and offer to help put up holiday decorations.
Yoga/Fitness Coach: You can focus on helping people get in shape for the holidays (look great for the upcoming party season) or even staying fit throughout the holiday season (let this be the year you don’t gain weight). In addition, since the new year has everyone thinking about renewing goals, fitness is high priority for many people. Get a jump on this marketing opportunity and have some “new year/new you” packages ready.
Graphic Designer: Offer special holiday-themed packages, such as holiday cards, logos and promotional flyers.
Photographers: Run specials on holiday photos for greeting cards and holiday newsletters. You could even go the extra mile and offer special one-on-one Santa photos.
Blogger: Create content centered around the holidays that your audience will like. For instance, if you have a photography blog, you can create an ebook on how to take professional holiday photos.
Interior Decorator: Decorating for the holidays means moving stuff around and trying to fit holiday decorations into your regular decor. Help clients out by offering a special holiday package that could even include a professionally decorated tree.
Consultant: You help your clients stay focused all year, now’s the time to help them get their own boost this holiday season. Look at problem areas your clients may need help with during the next few months and create special packages or services that will help create solutions.
#3 – Determine what needs to be done.
Now that you know your dates and what promotions you want to run, you need to tie it all together and make it actually happen. A good starting point is to write down everything you need to do. Typically, you’ll at least need to create promotional materials such as flyers, website banners and other marketing materials. You’ll also need to factor in how you are going to promote your special to your customers.
Once you have your list, go back and write any dates or deadlines that may be associated with the task. For instance, if you need to order something, how much time do you need to allot for shipping? At what times should you notify customers about the promotions?
When you have your tasks and deadlines ready, you need to write them into the marketing calendar and then assign them to someone. If you are doing all the tasks yourself, you can skip the assigning part. However, when you have other people involved, even sub-contractors or other third-parties, you need to make sure you’ve given the task to the person or company with enough time to actually get it done.
Now that you have your overall plan, it’s time to put it into action! Don’t worry, we’re here to help with that, too! Over the next few months, we’ll be creating guides like this to help you take full advantage of this final quarter of the fiscal year. We’ll hone in on specific details such as email marketing, eCommerce tips, social media tips and more. Our goal is to make this year’s holiday season as a self-employed individual your best yet.