We are less than four half months away before the holiday season is full swing. Big stores such as Hobby Lobby, Walmart, Target and more will have Santa Claus decking their aisle soon as Halloween is over. Too many times, I hear small business owners complain about missed opportunities, being overwhelmed, lack of sales and more when the holidays do roll around. Nine times out of ten its because they were not preparing at all for the upcoming season. It always baffles me when people say “I can’t believe it’s Christmas time.” It happens every year like clockwork we should not be surprised at all. Here are five ways you can prepare your business for this upcoming holiday season.
Holiday Markets or Popup Shops
The holiday market place and pop shop list are filling up as we speak from vendors who worked last year, and know how great of a revenue machine they are, but also a way to connect with your local audience. One thing, I will say is look into past events to make sure these markets or popup shops is for your brand. The people who market these events can be good talkers and make you believe they will have your target audience and they don’t. This has happen to past and current clients who struggled with that. Not to say, they are all like this because I have been to some amazing markets that help me discover businesses that I love. If you don’t know where to start simple Google “holiday market (insert your city)” and things should pop up. You can contact event planners from that year.
Press or Features
Have you started looking for holiday guides to be placed in this year. I am still elated about my friend who landed a major new website’s holiday guide. That free press landed Susan Sarandon as a customer that year. Oh I should mention that I saw a tweet about last call for holiday guide submissions and shot her a quick email. Sometimes, brilliant opportunties land in your lap like that. Other times you have to work extremely hard and culivate the leads yourself. In addition to that, I would find maybe five to ten influencers you love and reach out to them to share your products on social media. When I say influencers I am not always talking about people with millions of followers. One of my biggest influencer happens to be a friend that has amazing style, presence and more.
Once you have determined the items that you will be having in stock or marking down you need to create the call to action banners around them for social media, website, first and next purchase cards, and email marketing campaigns. If you have a tight budget because you invested money into new products, photography or paid social media campaigns you can design your graphics in PicMonkey, Canva or hiring someone on Fiverr to help you. When I first started Fiverr was my best friend until I started playing around with the design tools I mention. Getting these done now will save you so much time.
Spend this month, really fine tuning your website because I would hate for your website not to be working well during the biggest sales time of the year. Personally, I believe once a quarter you should do a website checkup to make sure things are working smoothly.
- Shipping & Return Policy
- Inventory Levels – move low qty items to sales section
- SEO – every photo on your website should have keywords + meta tags
- Contact Page – Make sure you also have a contact email on there just in case your form is broken.
Check all these areas of your website to make sure they are working. If you will have a different return or shipping policy this holiday season, I would start working on it that way it can go immediately into effect November 1st. In addition to that, you can hire people to check the speed and userbility of your website. I think this is a great investment because you can hear from various individuals feedback.
Honestly, I feel overwhelmed the month of November now because every retailer is having a Black Friday sale way before Black Friday. They are bombarding my emails with all their “deals” and special promotions. Millions of other American’s, which happens to be your target audience are too. Normally, I am an advocate of sending out a blast to your followers, but honestly, if you’re not running a sale don’t waste your time and energy. This holiday season, I would focus on gaining local shoppers attentions through social media campaigns. Don’t get me wrong abandoning your online shoppers is not what I want you to do. You can send a blast out letting them know special deals, where you will be for a pop-up shop and why supporting small business important.
More and more people want to help small business owners, especially the growing demographic of women companies. You can utilzie your email blast to highlight why supporting local or other small business online is essential. Always remember informed buyers are the best buyers. People love sharing their knowledge and facts to those who might listen.
Social Media Campaigns
Right now, I want you to look at your social media campaign budget for October to December. Your budget should include social media automation through tools such as Buffer, Hootsuite, Planoly and more. In addition to that, the creation of graphics and placing paid social media campaigns. If you’re not great at social media paid campaigns for certain platforms such as Facebook or Instagram, I would suggest finding a low-cost eCourse to purchase to spruce up on it. My generation has a billion dollar buying power alone now imagine the time we most of you’s target audience is on social media. One thing, I am huge on is shopping online via what my friends are sharing on social media. Or when I am on Instagram scrolling the explore page, I have discovered numerous new business because their visuals were on point. This is a perfect time to collaborate with your other business owners and have a holiday photoshoot or create amazing flatlays with each other’s products which are great cross promotion.
Don’t Compete With Big Box Retailers
Every year, I see small business owners trying to compete with big box retailers, and you need not do that. First, it’s not the lane you’re in, and they have millions of dollars to spend. The economy is shifting towards supporting small business owners which benefits you in so many ways. Use being a small brand to your advantage when it comes to marketing. Using hashtags or keywords such as; #smallbusiness #supportlocal #madeintheusa #shopsmall and others like that. Make sure you find keywords to use for local marketing on social media and on your website. Focus on why your customers love supporting you.
It’s not always about having the most money to win, it’s about utilzing what you have to the best of your knowledge. When I first started my online clothing boutique money was extremely tight but I was able to pull models, stylist and photographer to do a lookbook for my business. This holiday season can double or triple what you made all year if you invest the time into your business now. If you’re wanting a check off list to help you, check out my Holiday Guide For Small Business owners. Last year, I complied a blog post filled with past holiday topics to make it easier to source.