7 Steps to Prepare Your Business For Christmas in a Post-Covid World.
Will Christmas be make or break for your business this year?
This year has been ‘unusual’, to put it mildly.
There have been those that have benefited and those who haven’t been so lucky.
Regardless of how you’ve fared, no one can be complacent.
Some business owners feel overwhelmed with how to turn it around or to make the most of the festive season with thoughts of:
- ‘No one has any money now’
- ‘My business is totally different to 12 months ago, how do I adapt this Christmas?’
- ‘How do I even start planning?!’
I have been helping small businesses plan for their festive period and although each business is unique, there are certain steps that apply to any business, whether you sell products or services.
It’s not too late to get organised and be ready as your customers/ clients start researching, planning and buying for their festivities.
Step 1: Audit your audience
It may seem obvious, but you would be surprised at how many businesses misunderstand who their customers and clients are. They see a very small proportion of who may finally buy from them, but they miss out on all the prospects that stalk them on their website or on their social media channels.
Get on your Google Analytics, Social Media Analytics and Email data and see who is interacting with you.
If you have changed your business model over the last 12 months, don’t be surprised if your audience has changed.
If it has, don’t panic! You’ve noticed now and can adapt to what happens next.
IMPORTANT: If your website isn’t linked to Google Analytics or tracking Pixels, this is Step 0!
Without data, you are doomed!
Step 2: Audit your offer
Is there a product/ service you offer that has done better this year?
Are you launching something new for the festive period?
Do you have a goal of how many items/ services you want to sell?
Do you have the infrastructure in place to offer this?
What is the profit margin and what can you afford to invest in advertising?
Can you afford to offer discounts?
Do you have reviews/ testimonials available from previous happy customers?
Again, may seem obvious but being clear on what you will focus on selling will help with your strategy.
Step 3: Audit your audience engagement
What does this even mean? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Do you have a loyal ‘tribe’ on your social media channels? Do they comment and like your posts? Do they save them and share them?
Do you have a good click through rate to your website? What is the bounce rate?
Are your emails being opened?
Are any customer complaints/ comments addressed quickly and happily?
Do your audience recommend you to family and friends?
If your business is still new and you don’t have a large following, the engagement of the audience you do have is key. Why?
You can soft launch new products to them and they will be more forgiving of teething problems.
You can ask them for feedback and will be more likely to receive it as your audience feel a personal connection to you and your business.
You can save on advertising as you have an audience of buyers ready, you just need to communicate to them that you have something new for them to try, maybe with enticing offers for their loyalty.
Step 4: Start driving more traffic to your website and social media channels
Whether you have an engaged audience or not, this time of year from August onwards is when you should be driving traffic to your website and social media channels (Remember Step 0? Tracking all your activity? See below why its key).
By driving traffic to you, you are recording everyone who is interested in your offering. They don’t need to buy from you at this stage, but they are now aware you exist. The seed has been sown.
How can you do this? Organically through announcing extra blog posts, giveaways on social media, tie it in with events you host in ‘the real world’. You can also invest in advertising such as Facebook awareness campaigns or Google Display ads.
All the people you capture are a ‘warm audience’. These people have shown an initial interest in your products and you can then retarget them with ads based on what they look at on your website, or use them to create ‘lookalike’ audiences of people that match the profiles of people that have already shown an interest in you.
Warm audiences usually have a higher conversion rate than cold audiences and bring down your ad spend.
IMPORTANT: Google cookies save information for 90 days; the Facebook pixel saves it for 180 days. Time to drive that traffic now!
Step 5: Time To shine
In August some people are proudly declaring they have started shopping for Christmas, by September, more people are at least starting to research and plan for their purchases. They may happen sooner this year as people may be more cautious of budgeting (it does not mean people will spend less necessarily).
September is when the overt Christmas messaging starts. You can either do this organically (for free) or start running ads. These early communications will start showing what there is interest for and what is resonating with your audience.
The key in the early few weeks is to test, monitor and adapt.
Use copy and imagery which creates an emotional response with your audience.
Step 6: Get To The Point
As Christmas gets closer, your messaging will become more direct, maybe you start running offers to get your audience over the line and buying from you.
Keep an eye on your checkout (if you have an online store). Are a lot of people dropping off? Is the process too long? Are delivery costs too high? Bear these in mind as they have a huge impact on your success.
It is also important to remember not to put your eggs all in one basket. Use social media, your website, emails, physical events, festive labelling on your products etc. Do not rely purely on, for example, an Instagram account, to drive all your sales.
IMPORTANT: Running ads is more expensive at this time of year. Planning in advance and creating warm audiences will help make your ads more efficient and hopefully keep a strong return on ad spend (ROAS).
Step 7: Be Repetitive
You may feel you are being repetitive, and your audience is getting bored of you but there are ways around this.
If you are relying on organic marketing to reach your audience, it is highly unlikely they are seeing all your messages and promotions. Even if they see 1 in 5 of your messages, your campaign has done well.
If you are advertising, testing and tweaking your copy and creative is a constant process. Adjusting the settings is also key so your audience can only see your ads a certain number of times a week and do not get ‘fatigue’ and ad blindness (a waste of money for you!).
We are in uncertain times and many small business owners are nervous for the future but I hope these steps and tips will help you draw a plan for the coming months and help boost your business and bring joy to others who use your products and services.