How to Prepare Your Business for a Successful Holiday Season

This is not a this year post, this is evergreen and won’t change.  It is something I print out and keep handy during each holiday shopping season and since we’re now in October, I figured it’s time to share it with you all.  It’s a checklist of things to remember so that you can do your best have a successful Q4 with your marketing campaigns and strategies.

The big thing to remember is that if it’s not making you more money and more productive, it won’t impact your Q4 and it does not matter.

How to Prepare for a Successful Holiday Season

Do Not Complain About Missing or Lower Traffic

Complaining and worrying about missing traffic or a channel that is falling won’t make you money.  Tweeting to Google, yelling at an affiliate manager who lost a big partner or complaining in a Facebook group about the Facebook algorithm doesn’t make you feel better in the long run and distracts you from what is important.  You know what does make you feel better, recovering sales and growing.  Sit back and see what is in your control and then focus on that, not complaining and looking for peer reaffirmations.

Can you launch in new places like Amazon, Walmart.com or other market places.  There are almost always untapped traffic sources within your reach and this could be the time to test them.  Same with going to Bing if you’re only running Adwords or you can begin creating video and video ads for YouTube.  You probably have a cell phone or a computer with a camera, use it.  Don’t let fear and self doubt stop you!

What Are Other Ways You Can Use What You Have

As a digital marketing consultant for both large and small companies I have to be creative regularly and evaluate, audit and come up with recommendations based on capabilities, availability of skills, financial situation and the reality of executing campaigns properly.  To do this I have to be creative and think of alternate ways that clients can use their assets without eating up too much time and also have a good chance at driving revenue and leads.  The same goes for you.

Think about your newsletter list.  If you’re only emailing to it you’re limiting your own potential.

Other ways to use an email list:

  • You can upload it to social media ad platforms or Google and run ads
  • Use it for cross promotions with complementary companies for a giveaway to grow it
  • Cut a deal with a media outlet like a blog, local paper or even a major media site that sells impressions.  Trade them coverage for the promise of you emailing the coverage/article to your list.

There are a ton of ways to get creative and grow.  It is up to you to find them, or you can hire someone like me to help find them and teach you how to execute.  (shameless plug).

Quit Listening to People Who Rehash or Relive the Past and Focus on Ongoing Issues

Regardless of an old success or old issues, this does you no good during the busiest shopping and money making season.  If someone did something great 5 years ago like restructured a PPC campaign or found a way to increase call center calls for sales, that is great; but what have they done now and can they do for you during the holidays?

If the answer is they haven’t done anything new, or what they are trying isn’t working, let their past successes be that.  Try letting someone new have a voice.  There could be a giant pool of profitable ideas within your own company and they are being suppressed because someone did something good 5 years ago.  I come across this regularly and most of the time decision makers are oblivious to it.  The same goes for people who keep doing the same thing and complaining about the same issues.

If the issue is 5 months old or 1 year and ongoing, chances are you don’t have the resources or time to fix it right now.  If it is something that will impact immediate revenue, then maybe do it already so the person stops complaining and you can reap the benefits so you have revenue to grow over the following 3 quarters.  If it will not, then remove that person from the table.

That person or group of people who are complaining about something you cannot fix will not help you have a better Q4.  They will get upset their voice isn’t being heard, but your focus is to have a good Q4, not spend time listening to things you can do nothing about.

Spend Time and Money Where Your Traffic and Customers Are

A website which is sending you traffic and converts is a good place to go.  Look to see how you can be included in their upcoming holiday content from gift guides to articles about preventing the pipes in your house from freezing as it gets cold.  It could also be about creating the perfect holiday display or the food and cocktails to serve with it.  Do not invest time and money in places that do not grow your business.

An example of this is a coupon site that shows up for your brand or domain name + coupons.  This intercepts your customers at checkout (they see a coupon box when checking out, so they type “YourCompanyName + Coupons” into Google and now you have to pay an affiliate a commission).

Even though it converts higher than normal and looks like a sale from the coupon site, it is not bringing you new traffic and is not bringing you new money.  It is intercepting the channels that do bring customers to you and it is probably costing you money instead of making you money.  At least from my experience in seeing this behavior.  If making money is important to you and growing or stabilizing your company, focus on bringing in new sales, not spending money where you are not growing traffic and your customer base.

Be Careful of Comfort Zones

If your traffic is down or growth is stagnant, but your costs have gone up because you’ve hired new people, are moving less inventory or have more warehouse space, you still need to grow your revenue.  If something isn’t working, but you’re doing it because it’s what you’ve always done, that is your comfort zone and you need to get out of it.

Don’t put yourself at risk, but this is the time to test that new thing you thought of or work on channels you can control like expanding your PPC efforts, influencer marketing campaigns, social media advertising and other channels.  It’s probably not the best time to risk your site on SEO if SEO is important to your business so please hold off on those tests until after the holiday season.  Your in house employee or agency will thank you.

Do Not Focus on SEO Penalizations

Your site got penalized by an algorithm, chances are you do not have time to recover before holiday shopping is over. Yes it is important to fix this and recover, but if you have ways to make money right now instead, do those and then go into Q1 with a plan to reverse the penalty and by focusing on making money now, you’ll hopefully have the revenue to help you along the way until your organic traffic bounces back.

Plan How to Use Your Money Now and Set Goals

This is one of my favorites.  Create a list of what you want to do next year and how much it will cost.  Set these up as goals and the otal revenue you need to generate to achieve it.  Think about the thermometers with black lines that you see at fundraisers.  As more money comes in they color it in until it reaches the top.  This can help to keep you motivated in getting enough revenue to accomplish your goals for the next year.  As you reach each line, you’ll be able to check off that you have money for this next goal and it feels amazing!

Stop Being Afraid and Having Self Doubt

The most important thing to remember is to ignore insecurities.  Yes, you can learn to code.  Yes, you can learn to do video and edit.  Yes you can do whatever it is you are scared of, marketing wise.  Do not let yourself fall into the trap we all do where you watch people do things that you want to try, but instead of doing them you sit back, read their posts and just watch.  This is the biggest and hardest one to overcome, but remember, you are the one stopping you from making money, nobody else.

Do not watch what they’re doing and be envious.  Ignore them and go learn to do it, then execute and see if it works.  If you don’t, then it’s only you that is left behind.

Feel free to leave your own tips for surviving and having a productive Q4 shopping season below in the comments and if you know someone who needs to motivate, feel free to share this with them.

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