September is the perfect time to start prepping for the influx of holiday business. Last year, retail sales climbed 3% to $626.1 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s a lot of opportunity for business owners who are well prepared.
Here’s a checklist of four things you should prep now for the holiday marketing season:
1. Plan and schedule promotions
Rather than wait until your store is busy with holiday shoppers, create and schedule several promotions now.
Not using text message marketing? While email and social media are still great options, text message marketing is easy, affordable and effective, making it a promotional staple for the small retail shop.
Results from a holiday study show 78% of shoppers are likely to visit a store as a result of a text message promotion or alert via mobile device. Plus, eMarketer reported that “retailers reported seeing 50% more traffic coming from mobile during the holiday season.”
It’s also especially important to implement text or SMS as part of your holiday marketing mix, as customers’ inboxes and social feeds become heavily inundated with holiday promotions, starting in September. You’ll break through the noise – More than 98% of all text messages are opened and 90% are read within 3 seconds according to this report.
Need some ideas? Try a “Beat the Rush” campaign that offers a pre-holiday discount on one of your products. Try targeting your loyal customers with a special sale that happens after hours. Your promotion could be, “Shop Stress Free – You’re a VIP.” Or, check out this article, 7 Examples of Effective and Festive Holiday Promotions (You Can Create Right Now, Too) for inspiration.
2. Plan a holiday-themed giveaway on social media
During the holidays, you’ll likely see more traffic on your social sites. To capitalize on the this audience, prepare a giveaway as part of your holiday marketing plan.
Try a “12 Days of Christmas Giveaway” or “5 Day Holiday Giveaway.” A bookstore in North Carolina hosted a holiday-themed giveaway on its Facebook page. Take a look:
To participate, fans had to respond to a “question of the day.” Winners were chosen at random each day and entered to win a grand prize.
Plan something similar for your Facebook page this holiday season. Be sure to create a list of rules for the contest that are easily accessible on your website, and check the Facebook rules before scheduling posts.
3. Update and spruce up your website.
The holidays increase traffic to your website, too. Reports show 84% of consumers search the web before shopping at a store.
To get your website ready for the holidays, here are a few things you should check now:
- Decorate and update imagery on your website for the holidays.
- Showcase special holiday products that you’re selling. Even if you’re not selling them online, you can still post pictures and encourage customers to come in to buy.
- Make sure your site is mobile-friendly. More consumers are using their mobile devices to surf the web than they are personal computers, so it pays to make sure your website looks good on smartphones and tablets. Use this handy checklist to make sure your website is ready for any visitor, on any device.
- Check for broken links.
- Consider writing a holiday-themed blog post, or create a gallery of holiday-themed products that you sell and post it on your website or blog.
- Update your hours of operation to include any upcomping holiday changes, such as extended hours or days you’ll be closed.
4. Do some admin work
By doing some administrative work now, you can save yourself some time and hassle when your store is full of customers. Here are a few things to work on in advance:
- Work on holiday staffing. Talk to your staff early to find out who will be out of town and who can pick up extra shifts. Make a schedule that will keep lines short and employees calm, cool and collected.
- Order promotional items. Do you need a banner to advertise your Black Friday sale? Do you want floor stickers that lead customers to your hottest holiday items? If so, hop online and order them now so you don’t have to pay for expedited shipping.
- Purchase gift wrap. If you plan to offer your customers free gift-wrapping as a holiday perk, consider buying some online now so it’s on hand.
- Dig out the decorations. The holiday decorations are likely in the back closet collecting dust, consider putting them in a more convenient spot and give them a “once-over” to make sure everything is still working.
It always feels like the holidays arrive quickly, so this year be prepared. Take a little time each week during this month to plan for the holiday rush that’s ahead. By taking care of your holiday marketing tasks now, you’ll be able to focus more on creating a great customer experience when the holidays are here.