or, ‘He who hesitates is lost.’

So, here we are, hanging on the last vestiges of Summer and people have started complaining about ‘Christmas party advertising’ and festive wrapping paper. Bah humbug.

Whatever your thoughts or beliefs on the holiday season, I wanted to be among the first to bring it up (from a small business marketing point-of-view) and have a bit of fun in advance of the barrage. As I say above – he who hesitates is lost.

If you are in the leisure or retail industry, you’ve probably been thinking about it for ages – planning, costing, pre-ordering… But, if you are a small business whose product or service isn’t necessarily seasonal, I’m guessing that December feels a little way off. But, now really is the time to consider what this time of year means for you, and how can it support your sales and marketing effort?

After all, there will most certainly be a portion of your customer-base who will embrace the festivities, so maybe you should too. And, if you want to do this with style, getting your plan together now will put you well ahead of the game. This should definitely form part of your Three S Timing plan.

1. Check your seasonal sales and marketing strategy

  • What can you say in the run-up to the 25th, and how can it support your marketing activity (even if it’s just communicating your opening/trading times to your customers)?
  • Check your website hosting capacity, if you are in fact planning some seasonal communications, hits on your website might go up. Can your hosting package accommodate that increased traffic? Could you potentially be charged extra?
  • Think about what’s happening in Q1 of next year and plan newsletter articles, blogs and communications around that too.

2. Create your countdown to Christmas calendar

  • While you may not be ready now, put some reminders in your calendar to start thinking about any printed material you might need around the festivities. Don’t leave it till the 11th hour, (Christmas Eve is on a Wednesday this year by the way).
  • If you rely on the post – check out Royal mail’s Christmas post dates. This year it’s Thursday 18th for 2nd Class, Saturday 20th for 1st Class and Tuesday 23rd for Special Delivery. Airmail should be sent between 29 November and 14 December (and check online deals for bulk-buying stamps).
  • Remind your staff about taking annual leave – you don’t want them all off at the same time because they haven’t had any holiday this year.
  • And don’t forget… A lot of people take time off around Christmas, and suppliers shut down, so avoid the last 10 working days before Christmas, and the first two weeks of the New Year to send out communications. And, make sure you’d got everything you need for the New Year done before this go-slow period.

3. Spread the cost and avoid the rush

Leaving things to the last minute, like printing, could cause problems with rush charges and delays. Especially if everyone else has left it to the last minute too.

Have a think if there is anything you can produce now to avoid lots of bills coming in at the same time during December and January.

4. Let your hair down – have a bit of fun

  • Have you thought about a Greetings card for customers, suppliers and staff? Why not go humorous this year? Or, digital (and build it in with an email campaign/E-Newsletter).
  • Is your contact database up to date? Pass it around your team and get it cleaned up in plenty of time.
  • Catch up with customers and other contacts – this can be a great time for year for a drink and a natter, if you plan it in those busy diaries.
  • Have you thought about seasonal/promotional items that could be sent out at this time of year – chocolate, calendars, mugs, other types of gifts?
  • Have you thought about making your offices welcoming and festive to create a bit of cheer in the cold winter months?

5. Donate

And finally, instead of (or as well as) a Christmas card this year, how about a charity donation? As well as saving trees, postage and doing some good, it could double as a news item in your next newsletter.

So bah humbug or not, make sure you’ve planned around the festivities, even if it’s just considering ‘down time’ when reviewing your sales and marketing plans.

© Watertight Marketing Ltd

Cheryl Crichton

Cheryl Crichton

Watertight Marketing Certified Practitioner

Cheryl is a highly experienced marketing project manager who’s delivered for the country’s most demanding brands. She’s a high-energy individual, whose passion is for owner-managed businesses where she can make the biggest difference.

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