Is Your Business Ready for the Holidays?

With the start of fall and temperatures turning cooler one can’t help but think of the coming holiday season. For most of us that conjures up visions of family food and fun but for small business owners it also means increased inventory, holiday staffing nightmares and long nights. Here are some tips to help you make it through the holidays and maintain your sanity.

Develop a strategic marketing plan

Take some time to strategically plan your holiday marketing. To encourage shoppers to buy, create a detailed plan of your sales, discounts and giveaways leading up to the holiday season. Identify the marketing channels that are most likely to give you a good return on your investment, whether this means Facebook ads, direct mail postcards, email campaigns, or traditional newspaper or radio advertising. Use all the data you have, including what customers responded to last year, what the current trends are, and what you know about your loyal customers’ needs and tastes.

Go social

As stated above, social media is a great way to promote your business, brand and products during the holiday season. It’s also a great tool for your business year-round, but it’s especially great around the holiday season. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram give your business a free and wide-reaching tool to connect with customers. You can use social media to promote new products, holiday sales and/or gift ideas. The options are truly endless when it comes to using social media this holiday season. Just make sure you’re staying active and consistently posting new content.

Hire and Train Seasonal Workers

Just in case you’ll need extra staff during the holiday rush, start the hiring and training process early which gives you the time to adequately screen applicants, and provide proper training. You can also compile a list of seasonal workers or freelancers who you trust. Reach out to them ahead of time to confirm availability and build a schedule.  A well-trained staff of seasonal workers can ease the burden for your full-time employees and decrease the chance that customers will have a bad experience that keeps them from coming back.

Track Inventory

A lot of your success during holiday season will depend on what you’re able to offer your customers when they want it. That starts with inventory. By looking at last year’s sales, owners can gauge the products that resonated best with customers along what didn’t do as well. Remember, it can be just as bad to order too much of a product as it is to run out of product that’s in high demand. Also make sure you have a plan to purchase extra inventory quickly if your holiday sales are better than expected.

Find your USP

Nearly every business offers discounts and promotions during the holiday season. The key to successful seasonal sales is finding out what sets your business apart from the rest. That’s your unique selling proposition, or USP. This is what makes your store, brand or product better than all the rest. What sets you apart? Why are you the best? Focus on this when advertising to your shoppers around holiday time. Perhaps you offer complimentary gift wrapping, a great return policy or free shipping. These perks might seem insignificant, but they have the power to sway shoppers.

Implementing some of these strategies can help to make the holidays a little less stressful for you and your staff. And don’t forget to plan for Small Business Saturday, November 24th! Kick off the holiday season by getting your business involved in the shop small movement now, and take advantage of free promotional materials available to small businesses. More than 112 million customers reported shopping on this day celebrating small businesses last year!

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