Right now, I bet, the majority of you are not thinking beyond this time two weeks from now when hopefully you will have done all your shopping, had the groceries delivered and avoided any dining chair disasters thanks to a little forward planning. But if you have your own business these are not excuses to sit back, relax and enjoy the festive season, for as soon as the clock strikes midnight on the 25th of December there will be someone, somewhere that has launched their January sale.
The run up to Christmas is always deemed as the busiest time of year, but did you know that in actual fact the busiest shopping day, and many businesses’ busiest time, falls post Christmas? The nation’s love for a bargain has seen the 26th of December as the busiest shopping day online and in-store for a while now. I’m sure you’ve all seen the images on the news of mass crowds rushing to get the handbags and gladrags at half price…?
So what can you do in preparation for this rush to help capitalise on this post Christmas peak?
You might not like this first point so I’ve add the bracketed part to soften it – Don’t Relax (too much)
They say the early bird catches the worm so don’t shut down completely over the Christmas and new year period. If you are in retail it is becoming more common to only take a short amount of time off over the festive season and to open between Christmas and new year. You heard earlier that there is more and more demand from the consumer to make purchases at this time so make sure your business is open and ready to sell, especially in this digital age. Obviously you are not going to “close” a website but staffing is still an issue. You will need to make sure you have people available to answer customers queries, take orders and send out products and deploy services for your customers. It may be a cliché but if you snooze you will lose as someone else will be open that will meet the needs and demands of your customer or potential customer.
I know you have had months of this already but it’s not quite over yet – Plan Ahead
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Here’s a question for you. How soon after Christmas do you think people start looking for bargains? Pretty much as soon as their trifle plate has been licked clean. I personally prefer a snooze after Christmas lunch but according to research, the evening of Christmas day, and boxing day, yield many a bargain hunter. If you want to be ready for them you will need to have you January campaigns good to go before Christmas. It may seem a little obvious but remember that printers, mailing houses, online marketing companies and even the Royal Mail take holidays over Christmas and New Year, so to ensure on-time or even early deployment make sure everything is in the can before you shut up shop and head home to wrap prezzies. You will need to have your promotions, artwork, staff rotas and marketing campaigns ready to go within the next week or so.
Try and stand out from the crowd (you can wear a ridiculous Christmas jumper if it helps)
Everyone will have a January Sale so don’t be frightened to stand out and do something different. It would be foolish to do nothing and be left behind, therefore preparing a creative marketing campaign and promotional offering can give you a competitive edge over your competition. If everyone else starts their sale on boxing day, start yours on Christmas day. If competitors are cutting prices by 50%, top them and cut yours by 51%. Even if your business doesn’t do traditional sales or promotions, try and capitalise on the wider market and incorporate some form of promotional offer, even if it is only a free gift (of old Christmas stock) to the first 100 customers – once you have them in the door, you have another chance to sell.
Clear that Christmas stock – you’re probably sick of the sight of it by now anyway!
If you are a retailer, don’t be frightened to sell and clear Christmas stock. It will amaze you how many people will buy wrapping paper, gift cards, selection boxes and advent calendars, use this chance to liquidate seasonal stock rather than sit on the stock for a whole year again. You may think that by keeping it for next Christmas you will be saving money, but all you are actually doing is costing your company money and swelling the stock levels and tying up cash. Think of the poor guy that must have had a lock-up full of Tamagotchis, Furbies or Mr Blobby outfits… Trends can be over before next Christmas so cut your losses and turn excess Christmas products into cash by cutting prices and using items as add-ons; this will help generate sales of other items too.
If in doubt, release a fitness DVD.
Seriously. Everyone is doing it nowadays, and you never know, you may become the next Davina McCall or Mr Motivator!
These are just a few ideas to make sure you are ahead of the game and ready to capitalise on post-Christmas sales and get a head start in the new year. And remember, business is for life, not just for Christmas.
As next week is the final blog before Christmas; a time to reflect, we will take a retrospective look back at 2014 and the marketing trends that came to the fore and how you can utilise them moving into 2015.