Festive season lessons

Updated on 1 December 2016

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Speak to your customer, not just the season AND other festive season less

The end of the year is one of the most important times for any business. It’s a chance to grab a much-needed boost in profits, move old stock and make sure you meet your targets.

The problem is that the festive season is also very competitive and stressful, meaning your customers (and competitors) are not behaving like they normally would.

From the flood of special offers to endless adverts and total exhaustion, it becomes that much harder to convince people to explore your offering.

All these factors make it difficult to meet your sales target, but at Merchant Capital we know what it takes to make sure your year ends well. Here are some ideas on how to improve your numbers.

Speak to your customer, not just the season

By the end of the year, customers have survived seasonal sales campaigns around back to school, the seasons and various religious holidays. They are tired from a draining year and the last thing they want is to be bombarded with more pushy adverts.

What makes a difference at this time of year is the attitude of your staff. Despite the importance of advertising during peak season, word of mouth goes a long way.

Your team will also be tired, but try to encourage them to be extra friendly and go the extra mile – quality service gets people talking and will drive traffic to your store for free.

Remember that there are loads of people who leave their shopping to the last minute. Think of some creative holiday specials to take this opportunity, and get your staff to tell everyone about them as they pay. People love feeling like they’ve got the inside scoop but they’re not great at keeping secrets, meaning more free foot traffic, plus there’s nothing like face-to-face marketing to make an impression.

Thought starter: Hosting an after-hours Christmas party is a great way to treat customers. Decorate your space, offer snacks, dress up and put popular items on sale for one night only.

“Festive advertising is a nightmare for small businesses. How are you meant to compete with big brands who spend millions?”

Do what you can to stand out

Festive advertising is a nightmare for small businesses. How are you meant to compete with big brands who spend millions?

The truth is that you don’t need much money to make an impact.

Creativity goes a long way, especially when you use social media to engage with people on their terms. Apart from advertising specials, think of doing something that will get you noticed: a crazy video of your team dressed as elves, a gift exchange programme for charity or a free Christmas CD with every purchase will get people talking, and that’s invaluable.

Deck your social pages with relevant colours, send out a holiday email and discount code to your database or share blog content related to your business and you’ll show the digital world that you’re serious about sales season.

Thought starter: Not sure where to start when it comes to social media? Visit your favourite brands’ pages and see what they’re doing to get a little free inspiration – just don’t copy any ideas directly.

Remember, security threats are real

People are spending more freely in the festive season and unfortunately, that sees a rise in theft. Credit cards are easy to steal and use, which makes them a popular target for pickpockets.

It’s important to keep your customers safe, so consider investing in additional security and train your team to look out for people who might be using a credit card that doesn’t belong to them. They will often buy many unrelated items, or act suspiciously when paying.

If you are concerned about safety, consult a team of experts to upgrade your security system and do your best to limit the amount of cash kept on your premises.

Thought-starter: More people are using smartphone payment apps. Do your research and consider adding this option – people don’t need to carry cash or cards, plus it’s quick and convenient!

It’s a crazy time for any business but the festive season can boost your books. Just remember to treat your customers well, make sure people know what’s on offer and reduce risks and you can have a cracking Christmas.

About the author: Dov Girnun is the CEO and founder of Merchant Capital. The company is an innovative solution for South African small and medium businesses struggling to access working capital for growth. Merchant Capital offers an alternative to traditional funding option and uses a unique funding and payment model to provide a working capital injection for growing businesses. You can follow them on Twitter@MerchantCap

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