To navigate the rough waters of the competitive holiday selling season, especially in a difficult retail climate, a small retailer must plan and execute a successful holiday marketing strategy. The objective for every small retailer should be to make his store a holiday shopping destination.
Every retailer, large or small, should immediately create a marketing calendar to prepare for the crucial upcoming holiday selling period. It is an essential planning tool used to give a retailer a big picture glance of a month, indicating all the information germane to his business in the box allocated for each day of the month. A marketing calendar can include dates of sales, special events, daily volume goals, ad dates and media deadlines, special store hours, and any other information that will help the retailer to plan in advance for an upcoming important event. A marketing calendar can facilitate a team approach to reaching goals if displayed where all members of the retail team can access it. Any retailer can create a marketing calendar by using a regular calendar with large boxes for each day of the week. Marketing calendars are especially useful around the holidays in comparing sales results against previous years, as the holidays fall on different days of the week from year to year.
Now is the time to formulate a holiday advertising and marketing plan. Whether the plan includes traditional media advertisements, an email and internet campaign, or a multi-media approach, now is the time to plan those ads by identifying both key items and important promotional dates. Place orders now for samples of key items which will need to be photographed for catalogs, direct mail pieces, in-store marketing materials, and bag stuffers. During the critical selling months of November and December, all retailers should take advantage of free of charge email and voicemail marketing to supplement their holiday advertising schedules. A guest book set up on the cash wrap today can collect email addresses and phone numbers to build a database for holiday marketing campaigns. A successful holiday retail marketing formula should include frequent promotional events, weekly calls to action, a fresh and ever-changing merchandise presentation, and a memorable customer service experience.
Special services go a long way toward attracting holiday shoppers. Plan now to offer services such as complimentary gift wrapping, free shipping, or personal shopping services, which not only save shoppers money and time, but create invaluable word-of-mouth advertising. Advertising these holiday perks early can create a "buzz" and drive customers into the store.
Plan now to host a holiday special event, such as an open house or a sidewalk sale. Plan these events to coincide with increased foot traffic opportunities, such as a neighborhood holiday parade, or the lighting of a town tree or menorah. Holiday hospitality ideas can be put into motion, including plans for additional store and sidewalk seating, creating a coffee and hot chocolate bar, gift wrapping station or coat rack.
Holiday window displays should be planned early to ensure that materials are readily at hand during the holiday rush. Displays with movement are especially effective in capturing a customers attention to any special items or promotional materials displayed in the window. Any additional display fixtures or visual aids needed inside the store to optimize holiday selling should be ordered now, well in advance of the Thanksgiving weekend.
Advance planning is the key to successful execution of a holiday marketing strategy.
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