It may feel like you’ve just put away the tinsel but, as we welcome July – the official halfway point of the year – the holiday season is creeping up quickly.
Some say it’s the most wonderful time of year, yet it can often be busy, stressful and overwhelming for business owners. That’s particularly true if you leave your to-do list until December. So, as we hibernate for winter, it’s the perfect time to plan for the holiday period and set yourself up for a prosperous 2024.
Here are our 4 tips for getting a head start on your planning for the holidays:
Plan now, relax later.
You want to approach the holidays ready to relax and enjoy family time rather than feeling completely burnt out.
Here’s how to get organised and skip the last-minute scramble:
1. Review previous years.
- Sales data and performance.
Your previous sales data and performance can help you make informed decisions for the upcoming holiday season. Analyse which products or services performed well and identify any patterns or trends, define your sales targets or customer acquisition goals for the holiday period and create a budget based on those goals. Don’t forget to include marketing and inventory costs, additional staffing and other relevant expenses.
- Inventory levels.
Christmas inventory probably looks different from the rest of the year – some products may be more popular at this time than others. To help plan, review levels from the previous year and order additional stock well in advance to ensure you have sufficient quantities.
- Increased demands.
Our postage and shipping systems are under enormous pressure over the holiday period. You should anticipate an increase in demand and allow extra time for orders to arrive to customers or be delivered to you. A reliable shipping partner and clear processes for order fulfilment, tracking and customer support will help efficiency.
2. Organise your marketing content.
Keen to bring in those all-important Christmas dollars? You need a smart pre-season marketing plan.
Here’s how to get your marketing ducks in a row:
- Review and update your website.
In the modern day, a good website is crucial for business success. With more online traffic leading up to the holidays, use this time to ensure your website is optimised for mobile devices, easy to navigate and visually appealing. Optimise your product descriptions, images and overall website content and consider offering online-exclusive deals or bundles to attract customers.
- Create a marketing strategy.
Online and offline marketing strategies are both beneficial – especially around the social holiday period. Consider running paid search ads, email marketing campaigns, social media promotions and influencer partnerships. It’s also a good idea to plan your content calendar and schedule posts to maintain consistent engagement with your audience.
- Develop sales strategies.
These are important for engaging with your existing customers and encouraging repeat business. People love a deal, and that’s particularly true around the expensive festive season. Consider implementing a loyalty program, offering exclusive discounts or early access to holiday promotions and sending personalised holiday greetings.
- Collaborate with other businesses.
Explore partnerships with complementary businesses and cross-promote products or services to expand your reach and attract new customers.
3. Plan your shutdown.
The Christmas/New Year break is a perfect time to close the office doors so everyone can rejuvenate and return refreshed in 2024. Here’s how to plan for that:
- Set a date.
Once you’ve decided if and when you’re closing and reopening, you need to inform employees with clear instructions on when they are expected to return to work after the break. The closure will take a bit of adjusting – review work schedules and deadlines to ensure tasks and projects are completed before the closure period and communicate revised timelines to your team and clients if applicable.
- Inform customers.
If you forget to inform customers of your closure, you’ll risk losing their loyalty and business. Choose how you want to notify them – by email newsletter, social media posts or a banner on your website – and note the last day for placing orders and a date for your reopening.
- Set up automations.
Now’s a good time to create automated email responses, voicemail greetings and social media auto-replies to inform customers and suppliers about the closure and when they can expect a response. Provide alternative contact information, if applicable, such as an emergency contact number or an email for urgent matters.
4. Sort your staffing.
If your business experiences a significant increase in demand during the holiday season, consider hiring temporary staff to help manage the workload. You’ll want to start recruiting and training processes early to ensure you have a well-prepared team. It’s best to plan employee schedules well in advance, including anticipated high-demand periods, extended store hours and public holidays. Ensure you have appropriate coverage during peak times while considering employee preferences for time off.
Plan now for a successful 2024.
Instead of rushing to write your to-do list, use the relative downtime of winter to plan ahead. Review data from previous years to help you best prepare, perfect your marketing strategies and plan your shutdown process with precision. Then you can look forward to a relaxing summer break and returning to business feeling refreshed.
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