Your Business Christmas List
With Christmas just around the corner you’re no doubt busy rushing round sourcing new stock, refining product lines and preparing special promotions for what is set to be the busiest quarter of 2012, Christmas!
In efforts to help you make the most of this busy period we’ve created ‘Your Business Christmas List’, a fantastic list of suggestions and everything you need to consider in order to maximise your Christmas Sales!
Prepare Your Mindset – Christmas starts in October!
Some say ‘start your Christmas promotions in September’, others ‘October’ and some even ‘after Halloween’. The truth? It depends; it depends on your product range, industry type and marketing skill, if you’re unsure play safe and start your Christmas promotions mid-late October (unless your product sales are positively influenced by Halloween).
An early Christmas campaign may gain a few quick sales but if timed badly can easily turn off prospective clients from your brand which means less engagement and fewer sales.
You’re about to enter the busiest period of the year, the key? Preparation. If you’re mentally and physically prepared you can ensure a stress free and proactive environment to facilitate maximum sales and enjoyment!
Just think, in January next year you could be in Barbados Sipping a Pina Colada reflecting on a job well done!
- Time to calculate!
The first job is to run a few simple calculations, by spending a little time running through your sums you can identify your current daily output and plan accordingly to meet client expectations. Consider the following:
- How many customer orders can you typically handle in a day?
- How many typical buyer-to-sales questions do you receive a day? How long does it take to answer these questions? What’s the average time it takes to answer a buyer’s questions?
- Is there a particular product that sells more than the rest? Is this hot stock located near your packers? How long would this stock last? How long does replacement stock take to arrive if ordered today?
These answers define your daily capacity and give you the ability to plan ahead for peak trading periods. If you know how many orders it takes to reach maximum capacity you can prepare for peak trading periods to preserve those all important DSR’s and better meet buyer expectations.“Time is currency, spend it well!”
- Procedures! Procedures! Procedures!
No doubt you follow a strict routine to complete your daily jobs; if you were to write down your daily procedure as a checklist you will not only have a prompt to guide you through manic days but the opportunity to review what you do and when in order make improvements.“A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow”.
- What about your team?
Don’t be afraid to ask your team what they think, they’ll likely have lots of ideas on how to help things run smoother and quicker for them.“Improved working efficiency saves time, and saves you money.”
Prepare your Christmas Lines
Ensure you know what products you will be selling during the Christmas period, this doesn’t just include your core lines but also Christmas specific lines. Once you know your products for the next quarter you can prepare your promotional calendar to drive sales!
- Do you know what products you will be selling during your Christmas period?
- Are you introducing specific Christmas product lines?
Prepare your promotional calendar
Marketing makes sales, and sales keep your doors open. Make a promotional calendar to keep you marketing in check. A promotional calendar in its simplest form is a date calendar with prompt reminders as to what you need to do, when you need to do it and how you’re going to do it. It doesn’t need to be complicated, simply mark on the date you wish to send the campaign what it is you will be doing, what you aim to achieve by doing it and how you will do it.
For example:23rd October 2012 – Email Campaign to Customer Database – Primary Aim: Drive Christmas Sales Traffic to the website – Christmas special offer including 9 special deals – Subject “Christmas Store Now Open”
Prepare Your Suppliers
These guys literally hold your business up; without stock you can’t make sales and if you don’t keep up to date with your suppliers movements you can easily end up short. Keep up to date with your suppliers’ current events in order to maximise on situations as they arise.
“if you end up in a tight spot you may be able to call on a special favour!”
- Sharing your promotional calendar with your supplier
Not only will this strengthen your relationship with your supplier but they may provide some invaluable advice to enhance your campaign or even alert you of high risk periods where they may have low stock.
- You’re important! – Remind them
Make sure your suppliers understand you’re a serious seller whose business needs and requirements are important to them.
“the more they recognise your business the more support you’ll gain”
- Meet your suppliers and build a personal relationship
If you meet your suppliers face to face you’ll acquire a personal presence over other buyers, this can prove invaluable during a tight spot.“It’s only when you meet someone that you truly appreciate who they are”
- Ensure you know who your account manager is over the next quarter.
The more you know about your supplier movements the more you can plan for a successful promotional calendar, do you know who to speak with and who will get the job done should your account manager be on holiday in the next few months?
- Is your account manager on holiday at any point over the next 3 months? When are they away and who will be covering them? Do they understand your business expectations?
- Delivery times.
Don’t assume no news is good news; keep tabs on deliveries from your suppliers and ensure your expectations are accurate. It’s important to know when stock deliveries are due to ensure you have the resources to organise the stock, meet customer orders and start the next product promotion.
- Touch base with your suppliers regularly to ensure you’re up to date on any possible current and future product delivery delays.
- Calculate your average stock delivery time from supplier to your warehouse.“You can manage your cash flow and marketing campaigns depending on how quickly you can replenish stock.”
- Any last minute deals?
Don’t forget to ask your suppliers for last minute clearance stock deals or end of line promotions, these often come at great prices that can give you the competitive edge.
- There’s more…
Don’t forget this doesn’t just include asking your product stock suppliers this also includes your packaging suppliers (boxes, bubble wrap, tape etc).
Prepare your couriers
- Regularly update your couriers on your order level performance.
- If you’re having a successful month and great campaign it’s better they are aware so they can allocate appropriate resources to meet your courier demands.
- Confirm last delivery dates for the Christmas period – you don’t want to be caught short!
- Know your contacts.
It’s not what you know, but who you know. The more contacts you know with your courier the more eyes keeping a watch over your goods and the better the potential delivery service.
- Your courier account manager.
A close relationship can help ensure another eye is keeping watch over your goods to get things done.
- Courier returns and lost parcels.
Knowing who to speak with will save you time, speed up a resolution to issues and reduce stress.
- Account Managers at your local depot.
Depot managers have huge power over your courier service and to get things done.“a strong relationship with a depot manager will provide support and greater flexibility during tough times”
- Your courier account manager.
- Delivery Times
- Touch base with your couriers regularly to ensure you’re up to date on any possible current and future delivery delays.
Ensure you’re stocked!
Without stock you can’t make sales and if you can’t make sales you’re not in business. Ensure you have sufficient stock to support your promotional calendar and meet early demand.
Your First Campaign
It’s time for you first campaign! The important thing here is not to over think what you need to do, but to keep it S.M.A.R.T, ensure you keep it:
S – Specific
Define what you want to do exactly i.e. email campaign to 2,000 customers.
M – Measurable
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Ensure you have the means to measure how the campaign performs so you can see what happens and how to test improving next time.
A – Attainable
Ensure you have the resources to do the campaign; don’t plan a huge campaign if you don’t have the time and budget.
R – Realistic
Ensure it’s achievable, where you either have the skills needed to get the job done or can easily acquire the skills.
T – Timed
It’s important to know when you are going to run the campaign and the time required to prepare the campaign. Procrastination is an enemy of the entrepreneur!
October Example Marketing Activities Guide
17th October Website Changes:
Update your website with a Christmas theme; consider updating your logo, changing your product category pictures, introducing Christmas lifestyle images on your home page.Consider building a product category dedicated just to your Christmas product lines and remember to update your website to the mindset of Christmas browsers i.e. Gifts for him, Gifts for her.
Consider making your delivery and returns policy more prominent and transparent. This will not only reduce the number of buyer questions raised but increase buyer confidence which means more sales for you!
Q: Can you offer stocking filling products?
Q: Can you offer gift wrapping services?
Q: Can you provide a custom message service to gift recipients?
Q: Can you offer direct shipping to gift recipients (different bill-to and ship-to addresses in cart system)
19th SEO Updates:
Review your website analytics from last Christmas to identify hot keywords that generated the most converting traffic to your website, consider updating your SEO strategy to target these keywords. Use Google trends to identify other holiday season specific keywords relevant to your industry which could drive additional traffic to your website.
23rd October Email Campaign:
Remind your customers that Christmas is quickly approaching, consider providing an early up take special offer or indirectly announcing you’ve just opened your Christmas shop on your website.
Direct Sales Subject Idea: “Catch your early Christmas Specials with xyz”
Indirect Sales Subject Idea: “xyz Christmas Store Now Open”
Email Body: Includes 9-12 special offers or product promotions
23rd October Social Messages – 1-3 messages a day on FB, 6-8 messages a day on Twitter
Don’t forget to put the word out across your social networks; social networks are great channels to increase promotion awareness and who knows they may go viral!
Check back next week for Part 2 covering November’s Business Christmas List.
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