Halloween candy is on clearance and Starbucks switched to their winter cups so it’s official: the holiday season is here. For many of us, this means it’s time to think about holiday shopping. As a retailer, it means that you’re embarking on one of the busiest times of the year. The beauty of the holiday shopping season is that you have customers who want to make their purchases now during this window of time before the holidays begin. They can only put off their shopping for so long because the holidays act as a deadline.

It’s critical for you to have a strong strategy in place so you can maximize sales and optimize the buying experience for your customers. Here are some tips to help slay – or should we say sleigh – sales and have your merriest, brightest holiday shopping season yet.

Start promotions early

Don’t assume that your customers are waiting for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Small Business Tuesday to roll around. Today’s consumers start their holiday shopping well before these designated sale days. In fact, for many people, holiday shopping lists are already on their minds early into fall. A smart tactic for targeting these early birds is to begin offering discounts or special deals in early and mid-November. This doesn’t mean that you have to – or should – skip out on Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Small Business Tuesday deals. It just means that you should consider catering to people who are getting a headstart on their shopping.

Provide value to your buyers

Right now your customers are looking for the best deals they can find. The internet and social media make it easier for people to find the best deals at a variety of stores which means you have a lot of competition. The only way to stand out and entice potential shoppers is to provide value. Think about what your customers want and what would mean the most to them. It could be offering a great discount, running a buy-one-get-one special, offering a gift with purchase, or discounting some of your most popular items. You need to give them a deal they can’t pass up so that they buy from you instead of a competitor.

Think of the last-minute shoppers

We said to consider the early birds, but that doesn’t mean you can forget about the procrastinators! Thousands of people put off their gift buying for as long as they can. They might even be shopping the day before or the day of the holiday they’re celebrating. If you’re running a holiday sale or special promotion, consider extending it to the day before Christmas Eve. You could also run it through Christmas Eve if it makes sense for your industry and you have the capacity. Another option is to have a last-minute discount or special in the days leading up to Christmas Eve. Not only does this allow you to target the procrastinators but it can also be a way to encourage other shoppers to make one last purchase.

Get the word out

You could be running the biggest sale of the year or have an amazing offer, but it doesn’t matter if nobody knows about it. Utilize your mailing lists – both email and snail mail – to reach out to existing clients and prospects. Email and direct mail campaigns can deliver great results if you execute them in tandem so that’s a marketing strategy you should think about. Additionally, leverage your social media platforms to let your followers know what your business is offering holiday shoppers this season. If you want to target specific audiences, you should try running ads on search or social media. Both Google and the various social media platforms provide options for extremely focused targeting so your ad shows for your desired audience.

These four tips are relatively simple to put in place but can have a tremendous impact on how your business performs in these next few weeks. Good luck this season!

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