Planning for Holiday Sales
|Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.|
Planning for Holiday Sales
The year-end holiday season offers a six-week window for small businesses to boost sales and strengthen relationships with loyal customers.
For many businesses, the period between mid-November and the end of December can account for up to 30 percent of their year’s revenue, making it important to plan ahead to take full advantage of holiday-related sales and marketing opportunities.
And while small businesses may be challenged to match the steep promotional discounts offered by big-box stores and ecommerce giants, they can leverage their deeper product knowledge and higher service levels to reach customers more likely to patronize local businesses during the holiday season.
Local Business Advantages
Price competition can be challenging for smaller retailers who can’t afford to offer popular products as loss leaders, but they can still increase sales during the busy holiday rush.
The season offers a great opportunity for small businesses that depend on a local customer base to highlight their advantages and appeal to residents’ desire to support companies in their town or neighborhood.
Boutiques, for instance, can talk about the unique gifts that wouldn’t be available at a national discount store. Similarly, restaurants, wine stores or gourmet shops can stress their expertise and the fact they offer a more personalized experience than a larger store or a fast-casual chain restaurant.
Holiday-themed events can be another powerful way to bring in customers and build relationships. For example, performances by local musicians, visits with Santa and, if you’re in a cold-weather part of the country, hot beverages can offer a personal touch that larger retailers are less likely to match.
Classes or demonstrations are another effective way to increase holiday traffic and sales. For instance, a cooking store or gourmet shop could demonstrate ways to prepare popular holiday dishes or snacks, or a golf shop could partner with a local pro to offer in-store putting demonstrations.
Partnering with another local business offers a powerful way to tap into each other’s customer bases and, potentially, mailing lists. A restaurant and a bakery can offer discounted offers to each other’s business, for instance, to target shoppers interested in food-related gifts.
Similarly, a business can partner with a local charity to help a worthy cause and demonstrate their commitment to the community. Donating a percentage of a day’s sales to a local charity, for instance, helps to remind customers about your local connection. In addition, the charity will likely promote the event to its supporters.
The holidays are also an appropriate time to thank and reward the local customers who have supported your business throughout the year. You can do this through VIP discounts, private events, or opening the store an hour earlier and inviting loyal customers to beat the crowds.
Consider reaching out to your loyal customers with a postcard mailing that will stand out from the barrage of discount-focused emails clogging their inboxes.
Update Your Storefront
Whether your company’s storefront is primarily physical or digital, it’s also a good idea to freshen up your shop window, so to speak, to with a festive holiday theme. And for a physical location, a decorated window offers a chance to bring in foot traffic and highlight popular items.
With careful planning that capitalize on a small businesses’ advantages in serving local markets, you can boost holiday sales without deep price discounts.
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