Is it too early to mention the C word?

Woman stressed at christmas

Summer is technically still with us and the kids are deciding which new pencil case they need for school but does that mean it’s too early to talk about Christmas?  It might feel like it but in reality at the very least you should be planning for it. 

Let me explain why….

For many years I worked in retail and one of the things that I learned very quickly is that shelf space is expensive.  Each inch of the shelf has a premium cost and retail businesses want to maximise every inch with products that sell and makes the money.  It doesn’t make financial sense for them to have something on the shelf that doesn’t sell, takes a while to sell or costs them money to sell (i.e. they sell it at a loss).   

On bank holiday Monday I went shopping and Christmas was creeping in so many shops.   B & M (I love a bargain!) had almost an entire aisle devoted to Christmas.  Now admittedly I did roll my eyes and comment to my boyfriend “Good grief!  It’s August bank holiday” BUT  retail wouldn’t have it on the shelves if it wasn’t going to sell for them and customers had Christmas items in their trollies.

I know that big retail might feel very different than your business but as shoppers we are thinking about Christmas earlier and earlier.    Pinterest, for example, start to see an increase in festive keyword searches from as early as mid-August.  As a Mum of four I don’t have a clue on the big presents but I have already started shopping for stocking fillers for my boys so that I can spread the cost.

What can you do to get your business ready for Christmas?  Read on to see some of my suggestions.

Make a plan

It may feel too early to be talking about it on social media but you should be thinking ahead and planning. 

If your business is gift or product orientated then what are your best sellers?  What do you need to stock up on?  The challenges we are still facing means that delivery times from suppliers are increasing so getting your orders in early will help (and don’t be afraid to renegotiate payment terms if necessary).

If you create or make your own products then being prepared now will take the pressure off as you head towards Christmas.  One of my clients puts Christmas music on while she crafts her Christmas products so that she can get herself in the right mood.  Set your cut off date early and stick to it.  I’ve been there and have been the business owner frantically trying to make and deliver right up to Christmas Eve.  I spent most of Christmas Day feeling frazzled and didn’t enjoy a single minute of it so I learnt the lesson the hard way.  Set your date and advertise it early so that you know when you’re working to and your customers and potential customers know when your last order date is.  Not only can it make your own Christmas more peaceful but if you do it well you can also create a sense of urgency and FOMO (fear of missing out) for your audience.     

Think about your marketing 

When you are a small business owner, marketing very often gets pushed aside.  If you are Finance Director, Procurement Manager, Cleaner and Tea Maker, marketing gets left till last, particularly if you don’t like selling.  Doing that at Christmas could mean that you miss out on lots of opportunities.  When you’re busy or it doesn’t come naturally it can be tempting to just tell people what you sell and hope that they buy but that’s unlikely to work. 

If you have a website use your quieter time now to get everything added and in draft so that all you have to do is publish them when the time is right.  Which items are you going to highlight?  If a customer goes to your home page how easy is it for them to find your Christmas products or gifts?  Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and make it as easy as possible for them to buy from you. 

Create a plan that helps you to not just sell but also to build a relationship with your audience.  Make a list of your most frequently asked questions at Christmas.  What content can you create from them for your social media?  What other content would they find helpful?  Gift guides with a helpful easy to buy from landing page can work really well.  How can you group together what you sell to create an easy to use guide?  Titles like “Eco friendly gifts for under £10” or “Top stocking fillers for under young children” not only appeals to your audience but makes it easy for them to buy from you as well.

A content plan for your website, email and social media will help you to think ahead and stay focused.  Create content in advance so that all you have to do is look at your calendar and publish it.  Remember to repurpose your content to save you time.  A gift guide for 10 products could give you a landing page on your site, a blog, a Pinterest Pin, 10 Facebook posts featuring each product (or a Live to show them all off on video), an Instagram Story etc.  

Christmas can be a stressful time of year for all kinds of reasons but planning your business life as early as possible could help you to enjoy the festive season rather than dread it. If you would like help planning your online marketing for Christmas then get in touch.