by Kia Howey Dolby | Featured Contributor
Let me start by saying that the holiday season freaks me out a little bit. I always feel a lot of stress from the obligations, financial commitments, and preparation that come with the season. Add to that the challenges of keeping a business thriving during this season, and you can have one big headache.
For many years I worked for a company that made retail craft and décor products. We always worked about a year ahead on new products and promotions. So, imagine freaking out about the next Christmas in January. Most small businesses don’t have the luxury of working a year ahead. But, I did learn a lot of strategies that can work for any business wanting to get holiday ready. Now (yes, now) is the best time to prepare for the holiday crazies. Here’s how.
Embark on large projects now
If you have been thinking about updating your branding or overhauling your website, stop reading and get to it! Well maybe finish this article, and then get started. Scheduling major work in advance of the holidays will put you ahead of the game so you aren’t scrambling in the fall while you’re up against the other challenges of the holiday season.
Plan for business slowdowns and pickups
For some, the holidays are the busiest time of the business year. For others, it is just the opposite. If your business is typically slow during the holidays, make sure you are ramping up now to balance out a slower end of year. If your business picks up, start investing in new hires and inventory now.
Schedule holiday vacation
If you vowed last year, as you were miserably shipping products two days before Christmas, that you would be relaxing with a glass of eggnog this time next year, today’s the day to map out a vacation schedule. If you have a service business, decide on the last day you can take on new projects such that you’re able to complete them in time to take a break. If you have a product-based business, determine your last days for working and shipping now. If you have scheduled clients, prep them months in advance for holiday closings. Take a look at Thanksgiving breaks and kids’ schedules too to make sure you can take some family time off.
Brainstorm your holiday product offerings
Figure out ways to position products that are appealing for gift giving or other holiday needs. People love to eat and entertain and give gifts, so gear your offerings towards those things. This may mean that you have to package your products in a different way to make them appropriate for the holidays. Be creative. If you sell short sleeve t-shirts, make sure you have long ones in stock. Offer holiday themes and gift wrapping. Got a cleaning business? Offer gift certificates, so your clients can give cleaning services to friend or families. Got a professional service business? You may be able to offer special discounting or packages that are holiday-friendly.
View the season holistically
In addition to Christmas—Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and other holiday celebrations each offer unique business opportunities. Make sure your holiday plan offers products and promotions that are appropriate and timed correctly for each celebration you want to feature.
Prepare your holiday game promotion plan
If you’d like to get your products in print magazines, check for submission close dates for the magazines you want to target. Many close in late August or early September. Decide which online outlets you want to be featured in and add those to your list. Update press releases, print pieces, flyers, and cards now. Decide how and where you want to promote your business now so that everything’s in place for the holiday rush.
Look ahead to next year
Let’s face it, starting in late October through December we are hit with holiday after holiday and countless celebrations. It’s hard to plan ahead when you are in the middle of the craziness of the holidays. Take some time now to think ahead to the next year so that you aren’t setting New Year’s Resolutions as you take down the Christmas tree. You’ll love the feeling and focus that working ahead brings.
Kia Howey Dolby- Branding and Communications Strategist, Brightsmith Creative
Kia Dolby loves you and your brand, and she loves to share her experience, insight and expertise with you. Kia is the owner of Brightsmith Creative, a boutique communications studio that offers brand development, web design and communication strategy services. Kia has a passion for entrepreneurship. Her specialty is empowering small businesses with the tools they need to build and communicate their brand.
Kia studied graphic design at Florida A&M University and Temple University. She holds over 10 years of experience in marketing, branding, and web design. When she is not working, she enjoys blogging about design and style, playing with her three boys, traveling and vegetarian cooking.