November  2005      Vol. 14, No. 10  REAP HOME PAGE  A publication of the Center for Rural Affairs    
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Merry Christmas Marketing

The holidays are coming. Many businesses, especially retail, have been decorated and stocked for awhile already. Do you as a small business owner need to incorporate the holiday season into your own business?

In today’s world the answer is a qualified yes. The Christmas holiday season is a multi-billion dollar deal. People are going to spend money. You might as well be the one they buy from. Here are a few key elements to consider that can make your holiday business strategy more effective.

1) Find out what your customers want. It’s a rule to live by no matter what time of year. Maybe your customers will opt for lots of holiday flair. But you can’t be sure without “knowing your customers.” Depending on your business and if you are surrounded by lots of holiday pomp, some customers may appreciate a change of pace. Decorate to the level your customers expect. Spend your money wisely.

2) Have a plan. Set marketing/advertising budgets ahead of time. How many sales do you hope to make? How much money do you have in your cash flow budget designated for promoting your business for the holidays?

You should focus your marketing efforts year round on your target customers. Do you have the personnel available or are you organized and less hurried so you can take time and devote to customer service?

3) Stock up. Make sure you’ve got adequate product on hand so you don’t run out early. Check to make sure you’ve got plenty of promotional materials so you can get through the season.

4) Be creative and “package” and/or bundle your products or service. During the holiday season, many clients are extremely busy. They appreciate pretty packaging at a good price. Bundle products together in baskets, gift sets/boxes, and give them a deal. People want quick and easy service, especially during this time of year. Can you provide the extra hand and suggestions for men who shop this season? Show them what you have to offer and how easy it is to fill their shopping orders for people on their lists.

5) Think outside the box. You don’t have to decorate and do just as your neighbors do. Maybe you can find unique decorations and play holiday music that is out of the ordinary. Focus on your niche. Offer holiday-related promotions, event sponsorships, or charitable giving programs your customers might appreciate.

6) Use the holiday opportunity to touch base with your clients. Communicate by sending cards, buying gifts especially for significant customers. Research to find out what your best customers would really appreciate. You can differentiate your gift giving to different levels of clientele. Stay within reasonable cost considerations.

Just remember that the Christmas holiday season can be merry for you and your customers if you offer what they need and you put some jolly energy into it!

Contact: Glennis McClure, REAP Co-Director /Women’s Business Center Director at 402.645.3296 or for more information.
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