Graphic by professional illustrator Rosie Lockie
December: Cold weather, warm fires, cheery ambiance, and let’s not forget: shopping. There are so many holidays in December that it can be hard to keep count: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Yule, and many, many more. Most of these holidays involve gift giving which means if you want to be involved in the seasonal sales, you need to be prepared early on.
Starting early gives you time to not only be prepared, but time to plan, revise, and possibly pivot. The time you’ll want to start planning depends on the holidays you decide to take part in. We recommend getting started at least one month before the holiday.
In addition to knowing when to start, you will also want to know what your goals are. This will help you to structure the rest of your sales plan. Are you looking to:
- Increase sales?
- Promote new and hot items?
- Get old items off the shelf?
- Increase customer base?
- Sell holiday specific items?
- Get people to the store to buy other items?
A helpful place to flesh out your goals is your Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday sales. If you participated in the hot mess after Thanksgiving, you should start planning your holiday sales by reviewing your previous sales efforts. Look at:
- What items sold the most? The least?
- Did you have enough in stock? Should you order more or less?
- What items were the most profitable? The least?
- What advertisements or coupons brought in the most website traffic? The most sales?
Now that you’ve started early, you have your goals in place, and you’ve reviewed your previous efforts, it’s time to structure your marketing plan for the month of December.
Holiday Marketing – When and Where to Advertise
We’ve divided December into four weeks centered around different types of promotions. Depending on your business goals and sales some of these sections could be shorter and some could be longer.
Week 1: Hints
Many people may not be quite ready to start their shopping this early in the holiday season but hinting at upcoming sales can start the sales hype.
Where possible, the holidays are a great time to introduce new and exciting items. The first week of December is a good time to start hinting about new and exciting products available for the holidays. Leaking hints instead of telling all is a good way to keep customers interested and excited about upcoming sales.
Email and social media and are two great ways to get these hints out. Email targets people who already know about you and may have shopped with you before. Social media can attract both current and new customers – a creative way to broaden the breadth of your reach.
This is a great time to set up remarketing campaigns, too. Remarketing allows you to target customers who visit your site in other places – for many shoppers, remarketing can feel like fate. For more on remarketing, check out our Holiday Planning Part 1.
Week 2: Details
The second week of December is likely the busiest shopping week. The early birds have started getting their Christmas shopping done while many others will be in the planning stages of their gifting. Hanukkah begins during the second week, so people may be scrambling for last minute gifts.
One great way to connect with your customers during this time is to send out a holiday sales calendar. The calendar can follow different formats depending on what you want – it could list all of the holidays your business will be celebrating/having sales for, or a calendar listing all of your holiday sales. Here is an example we’ve created.
Week 3: Procrastinators
The third week of December is a good time to engage the Christmas shopping procrastinators. There will only be one week until Christmas, Hanukkah is still in full force, and New Years is looming in the distant future.
Advertisements, promotions, and sales featuring phrases like “it’s not too late!” and “Last chance” are a great way to engage procrastinating Christmas shoppers.
Another awesome way to engage with shoppers is to do a “12 days of Christmas” sale. This could be a percentage off each day, different items on sale each day, or anything else that features different sales for each of the 12 days. This same format could be put in place for Hanukkah.
Week 4: Exchanges & Returns
We’ve all gotten that gift that didn’t quite fit, or just didn’t like it very much. The week following Christmas is one of the biggest weeks for returns. One way to help dissuade this is to promote exchanges. Offering special deals when customers do exchanges can help to sweeten the pot.
For example, when a customer exchanges an item instead of returning it they receive a free sample of something or a coupon for their next shopping trip. Incentivising exchanges can help you to keep the profits that you made from all of those holiday sales.
In addition to marketing towards exchanges and returns, this is a good time to target the New Year’s shoppers. New beginnings and goals are the main things people are looking for during this time, so using those types of terms are good ways to reach these customers.
As long as you start planning early and plan thoroughly you’re already on the right track to have successful holiday sales. But one crucial step in order to get ready for next year is to analyze how your sales performed.
- Which sales performed better?
- Any patterns that could explain why they did better?
- Where did most of your traffic come from? (this is where the URL tracker comes in handy)
Asking questions like this and using this year’s data to analyze them can give you an idea of what you need to do for next year’s sales.
Now that you have all the info you need to get started on planning your holiday sales, we’ve made a checklist that you can use to help keep on top of the preparations. Good luck and Happy Holidays!