It’s that time of year again, and the festive shopping season is just around the corner. Whilst the majority of small retail businesses will already have a plan in place for Christmas shoppers, there’s still time to make some last-minute adjustments to help boost sales.
Larger businesses and retailers often start planning their festive marketing for the coming year as soon as Christmas ends to give them plenty of time to prepare their ads (we’re looking at you, John Lewis). It’s a good practice to get into as it saves you time down the line when you need to be focusing on serving your customers. However, not everyone has a whole marketing department behind them.
Research suggests that 75% of UK small businesses only employ the owners, and a massive 99.2% of the business population are small businesses with between zero and 49 employees. We don’t all have the same means, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all make the most of the festive season for sales.
Any festive marketing activity, big or small, can boost sales or customer engagement if done right, so here are a few tips and ideas that you still have plenty of time to put into action:
- Set up a budget and a plan.
Even if you start to set everything up in November, staying on budget and organised is essential for your bottom line.
- Check out your competitors and your customer trends.
As soon as Halloween is over (if not before), larger retailers have their Christmas marketing out in-store and online. These are great for inspiration and can help you define your niche messaging.
It’s worth checking out any trends your customers are into as well. You can do this by researching on social media using relevant hashtags, checking out industry reports, reviewing Google Trends and keywords activity, or conducting short customer surveys.
- Check your inventory.
Do you have a lot of one item in stock? Are there groups of products that haven’t been selling as well as you thought? This is the ideal time to create innovative offers that might help clear out any leftovers. Here are a few ideas:
- Group products together to create pre-made gift sets.
- Provide mix-and-match deals that include Christmas packaging.
- Introduce festive multi-buy sales across lines.
- Prep your advertising materials.
You don’t need a huge ad or loads of out-of-home marketing to make an impact for your SME – you just need to use your budget wisely.
For instance, if you get a lot of in-store and passer-by footfall, then invest in large window posters and décor with some flyering nearby and some festive bags or packaging for those who purchase. Or if a lot of your customers find you via social media, consider investing in paid social media advertising and spending more time engaging with your customers online to promote the in-store festive activity.
Whatever you choose, make sure the artwork is consistent across all your platforms and materials, both online and offline. Remember your website, emails, thank you cards, social media imagery, and anything your customers may see.
Top Tip: For your festive designs, going simple and snappy is always best. There’s no need to overcomplicate it, and most customers prefer bitesize messaging anyway.
- Remember Small Business Saturday.
2022’s Small Business Saturday lands on the 3rd of December. It’s a day when locals are encouraged to shop locally and with small businesses. You can make the most of this via social media and your online communication (remember to use the hashtags #SmallBizSatUK and #SmallBusinessSaturday for maximum impact). You can also take out local ads in publications around that day that mention the event and emphasise your local nature. Whatever you choose, it’s a great opportunity to reach new customers and share your excellent offers with them.
- Consider your opening hours.
Many places offer late-night opening hours the closer you get to Christmas, so it might be a good idea to analyse your sales patterns and assess your opening hours to catch the most consumers. If your shop is under a certain size, according to trading hour laws, you can open any day or hour, so consider opening earlier or later to maximise on the 9-5.30 working crowd.
- To Black Friday or not to Black Friday?
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are typically American sales, but they have spilled over to the rest of the world in the last few years. Whether you take part or not is up to you – it’s certainly not expected, but there are things to consider:
- Cost – the events last a maximum of one week, so that is a lot of marketing and advertising for a short time.
- Online Vs. In-store – these events are typically online with Amazon taking a huge slice of the market, but in-store sales are expected to increase their share.
- Relevance – These sales events are often characterised by technology and entertainment. Your products may not be suitable for flash sales like these.
- Testing – you could use these events as an opportunity to see how some of your excess stock may perform in a sale environment, then use the learnings to inform your Christmas sales.
- Host a launch event.
Giving your big Christmas advertising a launch day in-store with special offers, product demos, testers, and festive goodies is a great way to get customers into your store. You could host it during the working day for anyone and everyone. The other option is to make it an exclusive after-hours event for existing or new customers where they can only gain access with an invitation (email or physical) that you’ve given them in exchange for a completed sale or signing up online.
- Offer a free gift
Convincing your online customers to come in-store is a difficult task, but you could make the most of your email marketing activity to invite them in-store to receive a free gift. Think mince pies, candy canes, gingerbread or small festive stocking fillers.
- Strategic placement of stocking fillers.
Point of purchase or till-side sales is a huge money maker. They’re designed to sit alongside checkouts or queuing areas to tempt already engaged and purchasing customers – essentially, they’re basic upselling and maximise impulse buying.
Placing smaller items from your inventory around these areas, especially those that could be stocking fillers alongside appropriate messaging, can increase your sales with little to no effort on your part.
Whatever you choose to do, it’s never too late to make things festive, just be smart, figure out what will work for you and make the most of what you have at hand for a good festive selling period.