Small Business Survival Guide To The Festive Season

12 November 2018

It’s hard to convey just how potent the festive period is for UK businesses. One stat that does help to put it in perspective is that the public spends a staggering £4.2bn on food and drink alone in the week leading it up to the big day. But it’s not just turkeys and brussel sprouts that benefit from the seasonal influx of spending, almost every business sees a considerable boost in income. Forget surviving, Christmas is the time for businesses to strive and these are our tips for making the most of this most wonderful time of the year.

Prepare your business for success

Even the most ardent hall-deckers won’t be busting out the holly before November, but that’s precisely what every small business should be doing. Ideally, you’ll have past business data to help you start building a clear picture of typical consumer habits and you can use that to inform your decisions. If you don’t, then start trying to keep them this year: you’ll thank yourself when the next festive season comes around. Take advantage of the (relative) calm before the storm to ensure that you’ve done the necessary prep work. Setting festive hours, finding extra staff and ordering in specific stock are just some of the many tasks that you can complete ahead of time. It can be tempting to put these things off, but the more prepared you are in advance, the more time you’ll have to be reactive.

Adapt and evolve

Being reactive and adaptable is a brilliant way to really maximise the potential of Christmas for small businesses. Trends are often late to establish themselves in the festive period, with consumer opinions tending to really shape up in the fortnight or so before the big day. In the US for example, you might be surprised to discover that 34% more shopping searches on Christmas Day than on Black Friday . Shopping and browsing habits have changed dramatically in the face of modern culture. Consumers expect to be able to get what they want, when they want it.

Rising to meet that demand can be challenging, but doing so can put you head and shoulders over your competitors. Monitor what’s going on in your industry closely: being able to see what’s in the highest demand and fit your goods or services around it has the potential to be a real game changer. Google Trends is an excellent tool to use here, and can help you delve deeper into consumer search behaviour. Once you have an idea, adapt your offering to best meet customer needs and then promote that change through festive themed emails and social media posts. Keeping it simple here is normally best, tailoring small aspects of services or a few products to best match what’s going on.

Millennial marketing

Do that and you’ll certainly increase your chances of attracting the most demanding, dynamic and digitally savvy of all markets: millennials. Much maligned for their supposed self entitlement and love of skinny, almond milk, mocha iced matcha lattes, millennials are in fact the most generous of all generations when it comes to the festive season. 47% of people aged 18-34-think of themselves as “Modern Day Santas”, and love giving out the best gifts they can.

So, how can you draw them in? A strong digital presence is an absolute must. If you’re only operating a physical presence, you’re never truly going to capture the interest of a generation that loves using their smartphones to inform purchasing decisions.They tend to make wishlists and see shopping as an aspirational, personal journey. So the best way to attract them is to fulfil their needs: they want to know everything about your business, what you stock or offer, and how to get the best out of your product. Make sure your website and social feeds are well equipped with useful information about everything you offer and with up to date details of your promotions.

Get promoting!

Chances are, your business will be running at least one promotion over the festive period. Whether that’s a simple reduction in the price of a popular item to draw in customers, free items for people coming to your physical location or something truly creative, a great Christmas promotion can be a serious boost to your business. Whatever you choose, set out your promotion with a clear goal in mind.

Looking to attract returning custom? Offer a coupon or gift card with purchase, to entice them into a return visit. Hoping to raise a buzz online? A giveaway competition is a great way to get your name shared among thousands. Got some excess stock to shift? Bundle up with something that’s naturally complementary and sell both at a competitive rate.

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