Christmas is coming. Am I mad? It’s only April. Christmas and other seasonal events do come around so quickly. Easter. Wedding anniversaries of clients. Birthday’s, etc. Why does there never seem to be enough time to effectively take advantage of these prime periods? It’s down to our planning, or lack of it, in most instances.

Depending on what mood we’re in and how much disposable income we have, these periods are either quite exciting or a large amount of white noise. The annoying fact is that for most smaller retail businesses, the end of the year is the busiest time with the most potential for revenue.

…start planning for the end of the year at the beginning – like now.

However you look at them, as a retailer, it requires a solid amount of planning and careful use of resources to take advantage of them effectively and profitably. The worst result is to put in a large amount of effort and get lost in the overwhelming campaigns that come with the territory. Focused communications, timely and relevant, will put your best foot forward and not put people off.

So what can be done to take advantage of these retail highs and lows?

  • Make a consistent plan from the start of the year. So in other words, start planning for the end of the year at the beginning – like now. Christmas is coming remember. The season will quickly arrive and the better the plans are – whether that’s having enough photography stock, an amazing communications campaign, the right partners – the more chance you have of success.
  • Clever marketing. It is vital to be creative with your communications. Focus on building your immediate community from the earliest possible moment. Build from there. There are local variations on things happening: weird and wonderful events such as cheese rolling or wellie slinging. These types of things are unique and provide angles for your business to mark itself out as different or unusual.
  • Work on loyalty. Repeat custom from locals and established communities of customers are the bases to build from. They’re your easiest wins. Give as much as you can to these groups as they are your best marketing loudhailers. They will talk about you, recommend and gradually expand your territory. Social media is built on this premise of making connections through recommendations and sharing.
  • Mind the gap. When you start planning your year ahead, look for the spaces where there is likely to be slow periods. These times are crucial to give you breathing space. But also get ahead for when there will be no time to do anything. Establish jobs that can be done as preparation. A bit like cooking where you can stick them in the freezer ready for the main event. Quiet times may give you the breathing space to dedicate to getting that website finally built or redesigned. Those business cards designed and printed.
  • Be indispensable. The ability to be agile and creative is a small business’s greatest asset. So try to find ways to become an indispensable part of your community’s patterns of commerce. Build events or donate time, resources to local groups who in turn will repay the favour. These types of actions subconsciously place your business in the hub of local activity and ‘a good place to go’.

Remember, Christmas is coming, you have been warned.

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