It’s Time For The Holiday Sales Push!

While it seems like summer’s suntans have just faded, it’s time to start thinking about the holiday sales push for your small business. While, you may think it seems too early, holiday planning is not something to push off until November. Now is exactly the right time to plan ahead and allocate your resources most effectively. Are you ready to think holiday time? Let’s go!

Map Out Everything

The holiday push takes significant preparation if you want to do it right. Preparations need to be fully outlined and reviewed by all your key people well ahead of time, so that everyone is on the same page and knows which steps to take before the season is upon us.

Here are some key tips that will help:

Finalize your volume predictions for this year: Take a look at everything and anything you have about your product or product line. How does it typically sell over the course of the entire year? How does this change during the holidays? Is it a seasonally-fueled product that is going to require extra materials and additional staffing? If the volume increases rapidly at holiday time, and you’ll need more hands on deck and/or more raw materials, consider:

· How are you going to pay for this?
· When do you need to buy your materials in time?
· When do you hire new people?
· Is there a defined time of seasonal employment?
· Have you gotten this information over to payroll?

Promote and promote some more: Very likely, most of your promotional time happens during the holidays, and your customers are going to expect this. In fact, some people wait all year for the holiday season to nab the best deals. Be sure to cover all your bases:

· Have in-store exclusive promotions that are impossible to pass up (i.e. spend just $100 to get a VIP gift at check-out).
· Create online promotional coupons mailed to your most loyal customers (i.e. here is a free $20 to spend for being so amazing all year – happy holidays to you!)
· Establish plenty of promotional deals throughout the holiday season on your social media channels that seal the deal (i.e. free shipping, fixed price percentage discounts that increase with the more a customer spends).

Advertise the best of the best: Similar to above, how will anyone know about the unbelievable deals you are running right now if you don’t put it out there? Since organic advertising is tougher to come by for actual sales, you will almost certainly need to pay to play in all the places your company is visible to customers. Small changes such as turning your current promotion into your social media banner will also keep your deals front and center of hungry shoppers.

Keep your employees happy: Since sales volume will be up and the pace will be hectic, your employees will be working harder to make the holiday push a success. Reward them with appropriate incentives such as extra paid time off, cash bonuses, or a post-season thank you party. Good morale is essential to a good holiday season.

Don’t Forget Mobile Holiday Push Ups!

Deloitte Consulting estimates that about 84 percent of shoppers rely on digital tools before and during a trip in a physical store. And, shoppers that use mobile are about 40 percent more likely to make a purchase than people who don’t have these devices on hand. So, how can you best use mobile toward your advantage?

In her Target Marketing article “3 Mobile Push Tips for Holiday 2014”, Heather Fletcher looks specifically at online strategies for a good holiday season. While the article came out two years ago, the tips are sound ones:

Rely on a combination of notifications:
· Alerts or advisory notifications: These are sent when customers aren’t using the app or visiting the site as a reminder to do so.
· Reactive notifications: Once a customer acts (through a store or site visit), a follow-up message is sent.
· In-app notifications: These messages are sent right to a customer’s mobile app inbox.

Capture contextual data:
Examine all the great information and analytics at your fingertips to discover where a customer is going and what they are doing online. When you get an idea of their behavior across all your touch points, you can better engage them more effectively.

Make it personal:
Based on your customer’s preferences, optimize push notifications to the content and the timing that they will respond to the best. Personalizing this approach is certainly tough; keep at it until you find what works.

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