18 Tips for Preparing Your Business for the Holiday Season Ahead

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It’s never too early to start preparing for the holiday season. Here are 18 fantastic seasonal marketing ideas to boost customer engagement during the winter months.

Love it or hate it, Christmas is on the way, and that means business owners should be getting ready for the holiday season. The coming months are packed with exciting marketing opportunities, from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, to Hallowe’en, Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve.

With a little bit of research, you can take advantage of changing consumer spending habits. For instance, over a third of shoppers make their Christmas purchases in November, while 10 percent of people plan to buy more than half their gifts on Black Friday (Deloitte).

Of course, the festive season will look a little different this year. Almost three-quarters of UK consumers are hoping to make most of their purchases online (Internetretailing.net). This shift towards internet sales will give businesses the chance to connect with customers in a new way, and perfecting your online presence should be your starting point. Here are 18 ways you can start preparing for the holiday season...

Tips for getting ready for the holiday season

  1. Determine your ideal customer - You can boost sales by making sure your marketing material resonates with the people who are likely to make purchases. Think about the predominant age range, gender, income level and spending habits of your customer base. You could also find out whether they mainly shop online, and if they will predominantly be buying products for themselves or as a gift.
  2. Review last year’s sales - You’ll be able to find your bestsellers and push them this year, or create clever marketing to sell less popular products.
  3. Introduce incentives - Deals are an obvious way to entice potential customers, but you should take some time to choose the right one for your business. You could offer discounts, gift cards, free deliveries or complimentary gift wrapping. Other perks like last-minute shopping reminders and extended opening hours for brick-and-mortar business also go down well.
  4. Launch a daily discount - Why not focus your promotions on one item per day, rather than a blanket offer? This is a great way to push sales on popular products.
  5. Organise an event - If you own a brick-and-mortar business, you could encourage customers to visit you for a seasonal ‘party’. Many retailers provide entertainment, gift-wrapping options and seasonal beverages and snacks. You could even partner with neighbouring businesses for a one-day Christmas event.
  6. Design an eye-catching window display - If you have the chance to show off your products, use it to your advantage. Make sure your display does the job by creating a main focal point, sticking to a theme and avoiding a cluttered look. Also, movement catches attention, so a model train or dancing mannequin could boost sales.
  7. Make sure your website is mobile optimised - Christmas 2018 marked the first time shoppers made more orders on mobile devices than from desktops or laptops (Entrepreneur). So, you could lose out on a lot of income if your website isn’t compatible with mobiles.
  8. Up your email game - Emails are an incredibly effective way of targeting customers. Consider creating a seasonal newsletter, sale previews, gift guides or even a fun video.
  9. Create an interactive product - Get more eyes on your brand by inviting consumers to take part in your campaign. Back in 2006, Office Max created a promotional scheme, Elf Yourself, allowing customers to create themselves in elf form. Since its launch, more than 1.5 billion elves have been created.
  10. Consider other cultural holidays - Don’t forget about the many people living in the UK who celebrate different holidays. If it makes sense for your brand, you could launch events for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Chinese New Year.
  11. Focus on food - We all love eating indulgent dishes over the seasonal period. Restaurant and food businesses can take advantage of this by tempting shoppers to try their offering. You might also like to tailor your campaigns to large markets. For instance, during Ramadan, recipe searches rise by 50 percent and time spent watching YouTube food videos increases by 30 percent.
  12. Timing is everything - It’s worth consdiering when your customers will be thinking about the products your business offers. Taking Ramadan as an example again, social media usage soars by 200 percent at 3am, when people break their fasts.
  13. Use nostalgia to your advantage - One of the best ways to boost customer engagement is to generate nostalgia in your marketing material. You only need to look at Coca-Cola commercials or John Lewis adverts to see how businesses can reinforce their position as ‘holiday retailers’.
  14. Don’t forget your loyal customers - If you’ve been up and running for a while, you probably already have a sizeable pool of repeat buyers. By using targeted marketing or offering them exclusive discounts, you can tempt them back through your doors.
  15. Run last-minute deals - As much as we all try to be organised with our seasonal preparations, many people will leave everything to the last minute. You can encourage those shoppers to use your business by offering a cost-effective and convenient service, whether they need to bulk-buy decorations or track down that last little stocking filler.

Tips for businesses outside the retail sector

The tips above will work well for companies in the retail and food industries, and here are some alternative seasonal marketing ideas perfect for businesses in other sectors:

If your business experiences a drop-off in sales during the winter months, take advantage of the slow period and encourage staff to take holiday:

“We are an IT service company and have less work during the holiday season. I encourage all of my staff to take more days off and plan long vacations this time. This way, it doesn’t hurt the business and staff also gets ready for the workload that begins after the second week of January. If they stay back, I organize a retreat. This increases bonding and passion for work.” - Piyush Jain, SIMpalm

Think about what your customers would most appreciate over the festive period:
“Everyone sends generic holiday cards. Stand out by sending creative holiday-themed gifts. Hot cocoa, candy canes or even a bag of fake snow! Think creatively, your leads will appreciate it.” - Brian Curliss, MailLift

Consider turning your product into a service to boost sales:
“Let people buy a one-hour consultation, a 10-hour or three-day trial of your software, or any other small chunk of what you offer as a gift for others. B2B businesses can offer great corporate gifts. For B2C businesses, your potential market is even larger.” - Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com

Preparing for the holiday season

We’ll be giving more advice on how businesses can get ready for the holiday season over the coming months. But until then, you can read our other handy guides and articles covering hundreds of topics across a huge range of industries and sub-sectors.

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