Before holiday decor sweeps through our social media feeds, big retailers are preparing for the holiday rush. The holiday season is a marathon, not a sprint: success often relies on our ability to focus and execute on a well-thought-out plan. Here are some tips I’ve learned through personal experience and as a marketing consultant at my studio, Tote + Pears.
1. Start early.
Months, even years, before those first holiday decorations appear, I'm already deep into planning. What’s trending? Who are our target customers? How have they changed since last year? What solutions can we bring to market to address their challenges? What are the internal limitations that we’ll need to work around?
I typically take my team through a strategy planning session that includes evaluating external factors like our customers, competitors, and market climate as well as internal factors like product or team availability, pricing, and production.
The more I’m able to anticipate the needs and wants of my customers and our ability to deliver, the better equipped we are to handle the season. Starting early has been my secret weapon, turning potential holiday headaches into a time of growth and opportunity for my business and clients.
2. Set SMART goals.
My husband and business partner, Kai-Saun, and I have embarked on numerous ventures during our 12-year entrepreneurial journey. One of my favorites was a photography business we morphed into an online art store. Our clients sought more than just photos during the holiday season; they wanted memories. So we expanded our services to include photography, art, and other creative elements.
We used the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) approach to set our seasonal goals. For example, "Generate 20% of our net sales from the online store from mid-November to the end of December." That helped us lay the foundation for what was to come.
I like SMART goals because they can encapsulate ambition, determination, and specificity – all the necessary building blocks for a strong campaign.
3. Create a compelling narrative.
Building your holiday campaign around a compelling narrative can be impactful. My husband and I adopted the theme of "more memories," believing in the power of photographs to narrate personal stories. This strategy not only captivated our audience but also gave them a warm, nostalgic connection to our business in a season marked by family, joy, and togetherness.
The more I’m able to anticipate the needs and wants of my customers and our ability to deliver, the better equipped we are to handle the season.
A meaningful and well-thought-out narrative can resonate with your customers and help make your holiday campaign stand out amid the festive frenzy.
4. Design irresistible promotions and offers.
Striking a balance between irresistible deals and profit margins can require creativity. You can try different offers to see which ones appeal to your audience.
For some customers, bundle offers and limited-time discounts are the most enticing. For others, exclusive holiday packages mixed with high-margin items are more popular. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to promotions and offers. Just try to make sure that whatever you offer works for your business.
5. Invest in a digital and social media strategy.
Although it can be tempting to focus your energy on your store, you should try to make sure you’re meeting your customers where they are, and investing in a digital marketing strategy can help. Whether that be online ads or social media campaigns, you can find ways to have your brand working for you even when your doors are closed.
For our photography store, that meant leaning into online ads and social media marketing on our own channels. In addition, we invested in strategic partnerships with influencers who had social media channels that aligned with our target audience and were active on platforms that could bring in new customers for us.
6. Design an intentional customer experience.
Consumers during this time are not just looking for products, but often seeking experiences that make their shopping easier, more enjoyable, and even memorable. Improving the customer experience can therefore be a significant revenue driver.
A top-notch customer experience can create a positive brand impression, encouraging customers to extend their shopping from a one-off holiday purchase to a repeat customer, fueling a steady revenue stream. By delivering exceptional service, whether it's through smooth e-commerce interactions, a helpful and friendly in-store staff, or responsive customer support, you can rise above the competition.
Moreover, happy customers tend to share their positive experiences through word of mouth, online reviews, or social media. This organic promotion can help attract new customers without the cost of traditional advertising.
7. Nurture customer loyalty after the holidays.
Post-holiday can be a perfect opportunity to cultivate customer loyalty. Key strategies can include sending post-holiday thank-you emails, offering exclusives, or making personalized recommendations. Remember, a loyal customer can become your brand advocate, driving word-of-mouth promotions and attracting new customers.
Nurturing customer loyalty can be a crucial part of your holiday sales strategy, leading to sustainable revenue growth and making every season profitable.
You can plan ahead and strategize to avoid overstressing about your business's holiday plans and promotions. Instead, you can thoughtfully utilize these strategies to help maximize your success around (and after) the holiday season.