By Susan Goodwin
Christmas, a time for giving, a time for family and the lead up to it can be some of the most intense times for your business. It may be months away yet but if you do some prep work now you will arrive at Christmas not a frazzled mess but as a cool calm collected business woman who has just made the most of one of the biggest retail opportunities available.
Get your products ready
Ensure all products, goods and services are going to be ready in time for the Christmas sales period. If they aren’t you will lose a big opportunity so make sure your deadlines are being met.
Plan when to let your customers know
Work out a calendar of when the goods are available and how to best communicate to your customers during a time period when they are going to be bombarded with buy buy buy messages
Schedules your blog posts and social media
Hopefully you are working to a blog content 'calendar' by now... If so, set aside a couple of days in July and do as much prep work as you possibly can to have December posts ready to go. Even if you need to add photos later, get the writing and scheduling done.
Plan out your cards
Sending out Christmas cards? If they are physical cards, get them designed and printed before October. That way, you have time to write in them and get them into the post mid- to late-November in time for an early December delivery. If the bulk of your cards are going overseas, be sure to check the posting schedule and aim for an early November post date.
If your cards are virtual, get onto the design now and pre-schedule them to be sent out.
Sending gifts or products to key clients or agencies?
Think ahead and be sure to make your present relevant and as inspired as possible. Avoid the cliches and ensure you give a gift that will be remembered and appreciated.
Wrapping paper, not just for the presents you are giving, but for your own products
Think about how wrapping a product can benefit your brand and delight your customers. Do test runs, get costings and have everything ready far in advance.
Wrapping your products in a creative way could work in-store or at markets. Think about how to make this an engaging aspect of your customer's experience. Could you set up a wrapping station and allow customers to wrap their own gifts? Or have expert guides on hand to help? For online customers, offer gift wrapping as part of the service or for a small charge. Beautiful photos of the final wrapping are a must and will encourage people to take the option of wrapping and be happy to pay for it.
Then, prep for sales beyond Christmas
Think ahead: will you offer sales and discounts in December, or just from Boxing Day? Make a sales plan and act accordingly. If your website needs to change prices on the 26th, ensure you won’t be needed to manually input pricing changes on Christmas Day. Perhaps inside the gift wrapping you might consider adding a discount card to encourage repeat custom, or an easy way for them to share their gift on social media. Make it fun and engaging to increase your exposure. Plan it, pre-schedule it.
Overall, planning and scheduling as much as possible earlier in the year, will ensure you're calm and efficient during December. Not only will sales be flying out the door, you will have engagements and parties of your own to attend. Make sure your business is well looked after so you can enjoy the celebrations and not be locked in the office till midnight writing out Christmas cards (which could’ve been done in October!).
Plan and schedule and you will have time for both success and pleasure this Christmas.
Susan Goodwin is the designer, sewer and creator of Rocket Fuel, ensuring you are decked out in style while cycling. Read her blog or follow her on Twitter @rocketfuelstyle.