Christmas is incredible. Arguably our favorite time of the year. There is a feel in the air, an ineffable spirit that surrounds the holiday season.
Christmas is more than just presents. It is a full-out event. A holiday affair with all the fixings and it presents opportunities to those businesses savvy enough to notice.
A Regular Pine Tree Becomes Magical When It Is Dressed Up For Christmas.
Consider that for a moment. It is the perfect metaphor for Christmas marketing. A regular business can dress itself and its marketing up for the Christmas season and suddenly it is playing a part in something bigger than itself. It has entered the world of “Holiday Festivities” and it has tapped into the buzz that goes along with it.
The Christmas season does that. Whether referred to as “Christmas” or just the “Happy Holidays” the fact is that this time of year draws everyone in. It generates a fervor and an excitement. In fact research shows that our human nature actually justifies spending cash when it is for others and in the spirit of “holiday giving”.
That is why we are so much more willing with pull out the Visa or Master Card between the months of November and January. We can justify taking on the extra costs and the interest rates, because it is Christmas.
Why else would anyone knowingly attempt to navigate their local mall during the Christmas rush? It is absolute madness when you consider it, yet we do it and often enjoy it, because it is Christmas.
So how does a small business go about taking part in this enormous consumer rush? Here are a few ideas.
Keep It Christmas.
Here is the big fat disclaimer on everything you will read below. Marketing Christmas can be done tastefully, or it can be done tactlessly. There is a reason that so many people are jaded by the holiday season. They do not want to be marketed to in a cheesy, used-car salesman way. The entire point of “Christmas Marketing” is to broadcast the Christmas Spirit while explaining what your business has to offer.
The moment you make the sale more important than the season, you are crossing a line that should not be crossed. We encourage small businesses to take part in the holiday season, to play a role in it and within their community. By doing so you are engaging in the spirit of Christmas and will benefit as such. Should you forget the reason for your sales, should the almighty dollars become more important than the reason people are spending them, you will burn yourself out and alienate many consumers.
Basically, remember Christmas and keep things light.
Dress Your Shop For The Occasion.
My son is three. He LOVES Christmas lights. He LOVES Christmas trees. He LOVES “Ho Ho Ho” (his term for Santa Claus). He is not alone.
Dress your business up for the festivities. Go overboard. Hang the wreathes and lights, put up a tree, present your business as a holiday experience. This is one time of the year that garish displays are not only acceptable but encouraged. The extra labour and cost will be quickly offset by the increased traffic and sales.
Keep it classy and professional. Provide Joe Customer with a reason to come and “experience” the holidays with your business.
Don’t underestimate the draw that Christmas decorations can have on all of us.
Your shop is not the only place that customers can view your business. If you are online (and you should be) make sure to update your website, social media and any other online mediums.
Don’t shy away, by going “Full-Christmas” you are going to drive customers to your business. All instances of your brand / business image should be updated to represent the holiday season. You will not regret it. Spread the cheer!
By Christmas cards we really mean more of a postcard. Create a 4 x 6 JPG and you can print it out at any local photo shop for just pennies a piece. Print out a few hundred and then distribute them to the local community.
The card itself should be tasteful and professional. It should display Christmas first and foremost and your business second. Why? People do not need another flier, however a nice photo titled “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” wishing them all the best is perfect. Simply include your business logo, name and brief contact info somewhere on it so they know from whom it came.
Don’t use it to try to sell, instead use it to spread the holiday cheer and they will repay the favour.
This goes without saying. Every business offers sales during the Christmas season. It is what you do with those sales that makes the difference. Up the ante, push the envelope a little and get creative.
One idea that we saw was a “12 Days Of Christmas” sale. It offered special “Super-Sales” on specific items for each of the 12 days leading up to Christmas.
There is a certain amount of prep work to be done for Christmas sales in order to capitalize on them.
- Stocking up on specific merchandise in advance is key. Have a good stock ready for the influx of shoppers that come with Christmas sales.
- Stock up well in advance. Consider approaching your vendors as early as summer to negotiate bulk prices and stock on items for your Christmas sales.
- Know your margins and pick your percentages wisely. Choose items to put on sale that have good solid price margins that allow you to turn a profit even on a sale.
- Go through inventory and take the opportunity to push overstocked items or other items that need to go prior to the new year.
When putting on the sales, you will find more success in offering specific items at a greatly reduced discount as opposed offering smaller discounts on multiple items. In other words consider offering 50% or more on just one or two items as opposed to 10-25% on all of your items. This can be a great way to drive traffic into your store.
Go at it with the thought of “assisting consumers” in finding the gifts for their loved ones.
Displays, Displays, Displays.
Put up and maintain a regular rotation of product displays throughout the holiday season. They should be decorative and festive. This plays into your Christmas Sales as items that are on sale that day should be prominently displayed and accessible.
Consider having jolly old St. Nick visit your store. Advertise it and invite families and their kids to partake. Create a festive event around it and by extension, around your store. Show yourself to be a community minded business that is anxious to take part in everyone’s holiday cheer.
Give Away Christmas Cheer.
It may be as simple as handing out free hot chocolate to customers, or perhaps candy canes. The more Christmas buzz you can create around your place of business, the more traffic it will generate. How many of your competitors are standing on the curb outside giving passerby’s something to warm themselves?
Be Properly Staffed.
The Christmas season can (and should) mean increased traffic and sales within your store. Nothing will put customers off more than having to wait in line while one person attempts to ring in a dozen customers.
Don’t be caught off guard. Make sure you have enough staff to give your customers a positive experience.
Worried that you will wind up paying someone to stand around during the lulls?
- Put them outside to hand out hot chocolate to customers.
- Get them gift wrapping purchases for customers.
- Have them update your Christmas decor throughout the day.
- Put them to use maintaining your inventory levels.
All of this brings us to our next tip…
Do not leave your hiring to the last-minute. Hire and train your employees to know what they are talking about. They should be an extension of you the owner.
- They should be able to offer great service and process customer needs quickly.
- They should have enough info to answer basic questions, and be equipped to get the info for more difficult ones.
- They should be trained on how to make the sale.
This last one is important. Equip your employees to make the sale when you are unavailable. They need to know it is part of their job to sell your great products and services. Equip them with what they need to do that.
Make sure your staff is trained to sell in a way that provides each customer with an outstanding in-store experience. They should know how to assist customers in finding what they need and the various options or add-ons available.
Offering great sales is one thing but you need to get the word out there. Take to every avenue available to get the word out. Email, newspapers, magazines, fliers, posters, radio, television, social media, website updates. The options for broadcasting your info are endless. Choose the ones that make the most sense and then go hard.
It will cost you in the short-term, but the increased sales will more than pay those bills.
Include photos of the items, include photos of your decorated store, include photos of everything. Photos grab the eye, once you have the eye you have the attention and they will seek to learn more. Keep the verbiage brief and clear. Keep it simple. A photo, a price and the sales discount will speak volumes.
Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.