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Holiday marketing tactics to start planning now

We are living in a different world than holiday season 2019, and businesses need to think ahead about how to adapt

Like many businesses, you may rely heavily on Q4 being the most profitable quarter of the year. However, with 2020 unfolding much differently than years before – members across the country are looking to adjust tactics in an effort to stay competitive, maintain momentum, and keep customers satisfied.

In a survey conducted by Voxware, 51 percent of respondents expect to begin holiday shopping earlier than normal this year. With this in mind – is your business ready for a holiday season unlike any other?

Start by knowing your cash flow, in and out

Do you know where your cash flow currently stands? If not, start there. It’s incredibly important to have positive cash flow and a clear action plan in case you dip into the negative.

  • Many businesses struggle to collect payments on time which has a trickle down effect on the rest of the business. If this is a pain point for you, there are actions you can take today to reduce the issue, like always sending invoices in a timely manner and clearly stating the terms of payment. 

  • If customers are repeatedly late on payments, update their payment terms to collect in full or collect 50% payment upfront on future purchases. 

  • Running credit checks before a sale arms your business with the information needed to determine the line of credit that should be offered; If credit is below average among your customer base, simply collect payment upfront. 

  • Check your inventory! Is too much cash tied-up in inventory? Offer a sale and free-up that cash. 

With the difficulty of predicting the ever-changing landscape of our economy and consumer behaviors – there’s no doubt that cash flow will continue to be a challenge. But it will be well worth your effort to be tenacious about it.

Looking for more ways to increase your cash flow? Find more ideas in You’re Not Alone: Cash Flow Challenges Facing Small Business Owners Today

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Has your supply chain improved?

Even if it has: your holiday message should encourage customers to act fast

Across the country, The Coronavirus pandemic has had a great impact on business supply chains in virtually every industry. With low levels of inventory on hand, it’s important to convey the message to consumers to shop early. If they delay until late November and December, chances are they will not get the product they initially planned for.

Combined with the message of shopping early, you will also want to (naturally) focus on complementary products and SKUs that have not been impacted by supply chain delays. By focusing on these products, you are allowing for quicker turnaround on shelfspace within your store, and customer satisfaction rates will be higher since they were able to purchase what they had intended.

If your supply chain delays are anticipated to continue throughout the holiday season and into 2021 – reservations, preorders, gift cards and e-giftcards could be a great addition to your offering. But be sure to communicate ongoing inventory updates to keep customers in-the-know on availability.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to explore adding complimentary services and alternative suppliers. Even if your supply chain is back to its standard stock and delivery times, you must be prepared for future factory and shipping shutdowns. Adding new suppliers and services will add diversity to your offering, flexibility in your buying process, and will reduce disruptions and delays in the supply chain.

Prepare your digital channels for Holiday shoppers

This year will have more virtual window shoppers than years past. Make sure your messaging is clear and consistent across all your digital touchpoints.

Are they correct and up to date? Adjust your holiday business hours. Consumers depend on accurate listings when searching for a local business online. Incorrect business listings lead to lost sales opportunities, frustrated consumers, and weakened search rankings.

This is your digital storefront so make sure it is representing your business in a way that tells consumers who you are, what sets you apart, and why they should call or visit you over the competition.

You should ensure that your business has updated and accurate social media profiles on all leading platforms. Post content that answers questions, provides your expert insight, and engaging visuals are always recommended.

It’s a good idea to keep your customers in the loop about your approach to the holidays this year. For that, email works great. But before you blast away, what’s your goal? Whether it is getting the recipient to shop online, schedule a service, or book an appointment – make sure that your call-to-action (CTA) is clear and obvious!

91% of US adults like to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with. (MarketingSherpa)

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Be ready for changing consumer behaviors

It goes without saying that there will be less in-store foot traffic this year than any other due to Covid-19 still being a major factor in many states across the country. With a growing number of malls and big box retailers announcing stores not opening on Thanksgiving, many smaller retailers are following their example.

While we cannot say for certain that the closures are covid related (since Black Friday shopping has been on a slow decline over the past 3 years).Without a doubt, Black Friday 2020 will have even lower numbers. If it was a big part of your strategy last year – it’s time to diversify.

Consumers will be shopping from the comfort and safety of their home as they compare prices and make their ultimate buying decisions. This is why having your digital channels up to date is so extremely important. With various competitors online, honing your edge online will pay dividends.

Get creative with your online offerings

57% of respondents to Voxware’s survey on consumer holiday shopping indicated that gifts will be sent directly to recipients this year. This is an opportunity for retailers to include add-on services and differentiators like gift wrapping, online and in-store.

Unfortunately, the predicted decrease in spending this holiday season is not completely based on consumer’s fear of coming into contact with someone carrying the virus. Household incomes across the country were greatly impacted due to layoffs and loss of jobs caused by the pandemic.

Although the economy has started to improve in many parts of the country, one out of five or 28 million workers are still currently receiving unemployment benefits. With 20 percent of the workforce unemployed, they are likely to cut back on big ticket gift spending this year and shift towards stocking stuffers and gift cards. Keep this in mind when planning your holiday inventory!

Start Now

If there’s one thing we’ve learned this year – it’s to be prepared! Don’t wait until the holiday season to implement your planned tactics. Start brainstorming, planning, and testing your concepts now. This will allow you to see if inventory is moving as anticipated, gauge the reaction to your messaging, and work out any kinks before the season is upon us!

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