This article was updated on November 21, 2022.
Yes, it’s only November. But the holidays will be here before we know it. This is especially true when it comes to marketing. (It seems to come earlier and earlier every year, doesn’t it?)
So it’s time to get on the ball with laying out your own holiday marketing plan. Overwhelmed? Here’s where to start:
Mine your data.
Numbers don’t lie, and if you read what they’re saying, you’ll be one step ahead of the competition. Take advantage of all the reports, charts, and data you have at your fingertips in your Square Dashboard. There, you can see which items (or category of items, even) sold the best last year so you know what to double down on with your holiday marketing efforts. You can also see which were your busiest and slowest days, so you can be strategic about when you’re doing your heaviest marketing to drive sales. For more tips on becoming a data ninja, check out our post on Five Ways Square Analytics Can Help You Run Your Business.
Think about sales and promotions.
With gift lists that run a mile long, customers are looking for deals and discounts this time of year, and they don’t necessarily want to wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday. This is especially true as corporations begin to promote the holiday season earlier and earlier every year.
Get an early start on planning the types of holiday-themed sales and promotions that will work best for your business. If you’re a clothing boutique, think about running a special on dresses that would work for holiday parties. If you’re a candy store, package sweet treats and offer two for the price of one as stocking stuffers. “Friends and Family” incentives are big winners and will help attract both new and loyal customers. Once you decide what promotions you want to run, let your customers know through Square’s email marketing tools. All of the customers who have shopped with you are already in the system (segmented by loyal, casual, or lapsed), so there’s no legwork in uploading lists. Be sure to alert them to your sale at least a week in advance to optimize your holiday marketing strategy and ensure it’s on your customer’s shopping radar.
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Kick off a loyalty program.
Turn your holiday customers into year-round customers by getting them hooked through a loyalty program. Look for a program with easy sign up at checkout, so it doesn’t take up too much of their time (or yours). Square Loyalty has digital punchcards and rewards, so you can incentivize your new customers to keep coming back in the new year.
Customize gift cards.
Gift cards go hand-in-hand with the holidays, because let’s be real: They’re one of the easiest last-minute gifts. To make sure you rake in these (easy) sales, make sure you’ve ordered a batch of Square gift cards for the holiday season. It’s a good idea to think about how you can design gift cards to be specifically suited for the holidays (snowflakes, anyone?). You can upload any design you wish to Square gift cards (and even order small batches of each design), so get creative. A little flair will go a long way in making the gift feel special.
Social media is your friend.
Social media is the perfect way to get customers excited about the holidays ahead, so start brainstorming clever ways to engage your audience now. Put together Pinterest boards of what’s trending, or post boards based on who people might be buying for (like, “What Dad wants this year”). Consider running a weekly Wish List in your Instagram Stories, where you feature one of your shop’s top items each week and ask customers to share what they’ve got their eyes on. You can also use Facebook to announce holiday sales and give out promotional codes through Square Customer Engagement.
Plan a party.
Frenzied holiday shopping can be a drag. But shopping with a glass of spiked apple cider is another matter entirely. Make the chore a fun one for your customers by organizing community-oriented events around the holidays. Offer treats, give away small gift bags, bring in local musicians, and run merchandise specials to encourage customers to buy. And don’t forget to advertise. Events are a big draw if you’re a brick-and-mortar, so be sure to spread the word with email marketing, posters, and event invites on social media. Check out our post on how to market events for ways to give your guest list a boost.
Sell outside your shop.
Holiday fairs (the Renegade Craft Fair is a great example) are big on the local level. Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar or an online shop, think about having a presence at these one-stop shops. They’re a great way to get on your customers’ good sides by helping them save time. Reserve your booth now before all spots are taken to guarantee a boost in sales over the next few months. And if you’ll be at an event, be sure to let customers know via email marketing and social media so they know to stop by your booth.
A pop up shop is another great way to sell outside of your shop and bring in new and old customers. Although similar to fairs, pop ups allow more freedom to the how, what, length, and location of where you sell. For example, if you want to sell your product for one day only near a specific location, you can do so (with the correct permits, of course).
You can even go all out and collaborate with other brands to create a unique customer experience (check out some examples of holiday pop up bars) that’s different from your usual product offerings.
Expand your reach with marketplace
Integrating with other platforms can help you expand your reach and provide a more seamless experience for your customers, your staff, and you. Square’s App Marketplace offers integrations with brands such as Groupon and OpenTable to help boost your business across industries.
If you’re a restaurant, integrating with OpenTable can help you reach customers who prefer the ease of booking and managing a reservation online instead of calling. If your business is focused on e-commerce, Groupon can help you connect with customers old and new with special promotions and discounts advertised on their website. This is especially important for new customers who may be unfamiliar with your business but impressed with your promotion or discount.
The holiday marketing landscape can be crowded. But getting ahead of the game with some strategic planning will help your business stand out and help you make the most of this holiday shopping season.