Plan For Christmas In July (E-Commerce)

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Good morning internet fans, Ryan Perry, Simple Biz Support. Today is Wednesday, July 29th, therefore it is Social Media Wednesday. Therefore I do have Sarah Giometti with Provaro Marketing, good morning Sarah.

Sarah Giometti: Good morning Ryan, how are you?

RP: I’m doing wonderful. Actually I should have said merry Christmas, Sarah.

SG: The people are saying, “No, no.”

RP: Honestly, look, I wore green and I wore… It’s kind of a Christmas-sy colors today, even though it is a purple shirt.

SG: I almost put a red shirt on today, and I wish I had now.

RP: I do have to admit this isn’t planned, it just happened to be what was ironed today, so this is what I’m wearing. But it does tie into the fact that we need to start talking about Christmas, even though it’s in July, because if we don’t start talking and planning now, it’s going to be October, November and we’re going to be, “Oh my goodness, Christmas is right around the corner, I need to get my store setup, I need to start doing specials, I need to start promoting stuff.” And by the time that happens half of you potential customers have already bought, and your competitors are beating you on the visibility game.

SG: Absolutely. The whole point of this is to make the holiday season less stressful for you, the business owner. To make sure you’ve got a plan in place, you’ve got everything laid out, you know what you’re going to do, when you’re going to do it, so that come holiday season, which always starts creeping earlier and earlier, you’re ready to go. You also have to keep in mind that with e-commerce being so big, a lot of people are starting their shopping gradually, but they’re also starting a lot earlier. Because they might happen to see a deal in October of something they were planning to buy their kids, their spouse, siblings, parents, so they’ll just, not impulse buy, but a little bit of an impulse buy if it’s on a deal in October, so you want to make sure you’ve got everything in place. Even starting from October, pre-promoting deals that you’ve got going on. So, I know it’s scary to think about Christmas in July, but it’s actually better for you to have a more successful holiday season.

RP: Yeah, you almost have to wonder the Amazon Prime day that they had… What was it, last week, or two weeks ago? Maybe this was kind of a test to test the waters to see, “Okay, hey, we’re going to take a hit on Black Friday.” Or not take a hit I shouldn’t say, but we’re going to test the waters against Black Friday and go, “How early in the season can we start doing something super spectacular?” And you gotta know in the boardroom they had a conversation with, “If we do it this early, what kind of impact, how many people are going to actually start doing some Christmas shopping early?” Because I know a lot of the stuff that was in there was kind of irrelevant. A lot of people complained that a lot of the deals weren’t like… Everybody wanted a 60 inch TV for $15 dollars or something, or a new computer for $10, and there were some of those, but a lot of them was every day use items.

SG: Right, it was an interesting experiment that they did. But I think people were looking at it as early Christmas shopping, just unfortunately the products that were in it were not really great for that. So you don’t necessarily need to do deals this early, but you definitely want to plan it out so that it’s more successful for you. I mean, my personal preference is I don’t want to see anything Christmas, however… Or I don’t want to see anything Christmas in July, because it’s way to frickin’ early, but you still need to have the plan in place as a business owner so that you are not stressing out last minute going, “Oh my God, Black Friday is three days away and we’ve done nothing.” You’re not going to get any benefit out of that if you plan it a week in advance.

RP: Right, perfect. Okay, well let’s get into the meat and potatoes then. We’ve got four different items that are going to help you, if you have a e-commerce store, be better prepared this year, and hopefully get a leg up on your competition.

SG: Right. So the first one, we’ll dive right in, something we tout all the time, have a strategy. Have a plan. So sit down with a calender, decide when you’re going to start promoting holiday offers, holiday events, deals, specials, products, pick a day that you’re going to start, and when you’re going to stop, and map out that entire calender. You don’t have to have the content yet, but you do want to have, “Okay, I am going to start promoting things October 1st.” And then what are you going to do? What social media platforms are you going to post on? When are you going to send out email newsletters to your email list and your existing clients? So have the plan of what you’re going to do, and the timeline of what you’re going to do, that’s the first step. Because then you can sit down, even if you did a little bit of the social media stuff kind of on the fly and closer to the dates, having that plan you’ll know when you need to do the work, and so that takes a lot of the weight off of your shoulders.

RP: Right. And I think there’s two key advantages. One, once you have a plan, even if it’s just a skeleton outline like you were saying, just going into an Excel spreadsheet and having the day of the week, or every single day depending on how detailed you need to be, and then have actions. Each one of your columns is an action, you can just put a checkmark in on this day, this is the action that we’re going to take. Or get as detailed as you want, but it’s going to give you two key benefits. One it’s going to keep you personally accountable, and it’s going to make things more efficient because you’ve already planned out what you need to do. And we always know how busy things get around the holiday season, there’s a lot more work when it comes to maintaining and promoting an e-commerce store. Having that plan of action is going to be really important, and share that information with your team. That way everybody’s on the same page and everybody’s supporting the website and your clientele in the same manner consistently. It’s going to make a huge impact not only on the backend as far as increasing sales, but just the stress levels of day-to-day work is going to be much easier to cope with.

SG: Yeah, and find the way to map it out that works best for you. Ryan will use an Excel spreadsheet and use columns. I would actually print out an actual calendar with little boxes for everyday for each of the months that I’m doing something, handwrite in there Facebook post, Twitter post, I’d map it all out individual calendar. So, do what works best for you that will allow you to hold yourself accountable and map out your entire plan and all the different pieces you’re going to do. So like we mentioned, if you’re going to do different social media posts for your new email marketing, if you’re going to do phone calls, mailing out Christmas cards to your clientele. Whatever it is you’re going to do, map all of it out, every marketing piece that you’re going to do. And then so that way, then now you have a plan of action.

SG: Some other things you might want to think about as you’re planning this out is pre-planning any offers you’re going to do. Are you going to participate in Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Or are you going to do a riff off of those and be like, “I don’t want to take you away from your family so I’ll give you a Black Friday deal three days after Thanksgiving so you can have Thanksgiving weekend to celebrate with your family and not worry about missing out on any specials and percentages off.” things like that. So you want to plan through any offers, discounts, promo codes, map all of that out and then you can back map out when you’re going to promote them.

SG: Are you going to do 10% off in October? Bump that up to 20% off of something in November, you’re going to bump it up to a little bit more closer to Christmas to entice sales. So think through your offer strategy because people are looking for deals and special offers in the holidays because we already, as a nation, as a world, we already overspend for Christmas. So we’d like to see that we can get something for a little bit less than normal during the holiday season to try and restrict our spending and ease our pocketbook.

RP: Right, and the other thing I would throw out there for business owners is talk to your vendors. Get a leg up, what are the upcoming specials? Do you have to buy a 100 to get a discount? So start planning out those type of activities. Also, when is that special going to be available so that you can tie that in with your marketing program. If I gotta sell a 100 units and I gotta do it by the end of November, as an example, to get a special deal from my vendor, then I need to start that marketing before November so that I can sell all those units.

SG: Right, so you definitely just want to think through all the different opportunities to afford yourself to save money for a way that you can pass some of that savings onto your clientele and then letting everybody know that you’re offering that and you want to… Let people know as early as possible that these deals are coming up because let’s just say you… We’ll use TVs ’cause they’re easy. Let’s say you sell TVs. You know you’re going to have a 20% off a 60-inch TV come Black Friday. The earlier you tell people and you get the word out, they’re more likely to buy from you than to go to some big-box store ’cause it’s a really big thing, at least where we live, to buy a local. So if I see that you you’re going to have just as good of a deal as the big-box store, before I see the big-box stores stuff, I’m going to buy it from you. So you want to make sure that you advertise stuff as soon as you know that it’s coming even if it’s not available yet. Just say, “Hey, this deal’s coming so come in and buy it from us on this day when it shows up.”

RP: Right, perfect, okay, and we got about five minutes left and then we’ve got two more tips to talk about.

SG: Another thing to think a little outside the box is hold an event during the holiday season. Definitely don’t do it too close to either of the holidays, December does get pretty busy for people, they’ve got a lot of holiday events, but you can do some sort of open house, if you’re a brick-and-mortar store. Do some sort of open house, stop by, if you come in, you get a special discount by being there that day or enter a raffle to win something. Try to entice people to walk through the door, and you can even do that in… Not call it a holiday party, just call it something like an open house client appreciation and get them in the door. You can even do it in November before Thanksgiving ’cause it’s not technically tied to a holiday party. However, you’re already thinking strategically that these are part of your holiday sales, but you want to… But you’d say, “Hey, I want to thank all of you, my customers, for being loyal customers. Come in and get a special percentage off.” It’s helping your sales, helps the holiday season. It’s a win-win all around ’cause you entice people to get in the door.

RP: Yeah, definitely, and for those brick-and-mortar stores that also have e-commerce, when you start thinking about tools like Periscope where you can actually use your smartphone and be able to, not record, but go live, live-stream. How can you incorporate your audience, that’s a new piece of technology that wasn’t available last year, I don’t believe. I want to say… Was it early this year, Periscope came out?

SG: It’s… Yeah, I think it was there, but no it wasn’t really well known.

RP: Yeah, so you might want to go, “Hey, how can I incorporate new technology? Because it’s all about relationships. I don’t buy it from a business, I buy it from people.” And if you can build that relationship using new technology that your competitors haven’t thought about such as Periscope, how can you bring that thank you party or open house event, and push it out there and stream it live on the internet.

SG: Yeah, so you definitely want to think outside the box, be creative, but also be strategic. Yeah, and the last one since we only have a couple of minutes is, don’t forget your print material. If you need print material, graphic designers are going to get busy. They also have families and lives, and holidays. They are not going to work though the holidays most likely. So as you are planning it out, take notes and make a list of any of the print material you may need. Okay, I personally don’t really have print material for my business, but if you’re an e-commerce store, that you’re selling products or brick-and-mortar store, you may want to send out post cards to your list and in an effort to give them a special percentage off or discount or something to get them in the door or to go buy online.

SG: Flyers to have in the store to hand out. So think through any print material you may need that’s specific for the holiday shopping season. And plan to do that early ’cause you can print those and the printers get busy and backed up too. So I know the printers that I work with, Christmas card orders start in July so that you get them in time to be able to mail them out in time so that… ’cause Christmas cards typically show up around thanksgiving, you mail them out so they show up around thanksgiving, first week of December. That means you need to have them in hand as early November if possible so you can address… ‘Cause you should hand address all things that you’re sending to clients.

RP: Alright, I’m assuming Chelsea McKenna and Daniel Foster are over there poking you. Did they ask you to say that one?

SG: No, no. They are not here but I’ve worked well with both of them and I got enough history with graphic design that… Hire your representatives in advance, do your Christmas cards in advance so that you’re not scrambling to get things out and that just…

RP: Right, then it’s not even just print material but think about your social media accounts, your Facebook, your Twitter, your YouTube channel. Start planning out, okay I’m going to swap out those banners something that’s more holiday, it’s more promotional maybe and you want to have that design or start talking about those design concepts and then of course incorporate it into your calendar so that okay, “Hey graphic designer, on this day I’m swapping out all of my social media banner images to the holiday look, I need this done by then”. Now is the time to do that. So not just printed material but also digital material. Yeah, if you’re going to do any special stuff on your website, get that content created now and that could also include photography. If you’re going to do any special photoshoots for the holidays, now is the time to start thinking about that.

SG: Yeah, and not just the creative for your cover photos for your social media platforms, but any graphics you may need to promote specials that’s going on any… You want to change some staff on your website to promote the holidays, shopping season, so you want to get all those graphics out as early as possible. So again you’re not scrambling. So even if you accidentally miss one, it’s only one they have to do, not ten. So you want to, any social media posts, graphics you’re going to do stuff like that. So think through that in your planning.

RP: Alright. Perfect. With that our time is up, but why don’t you recap the four items that you should be thinking about now for the holiday, upcoming holiday season.

SG: Plan out your entire marketing strategy from now through Christmas. Think about hosting an event to draw people in the door. Pre-plan any offers that you plan to do, and don’t forget about your print material, and creative ways to take advantage of things like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, things like that.

RP: Alright perfect. With that, that ends this episode of Social Media Wednesday. As always Sarah, I appreciate the time and energy that you put into this, and the great information that you share with both of our fan base. We will see you next week. We’re not going to be talking about Christmas, but we do have a couple for great ideas that we want to share with you. So everybody out there, we’re looking forward to seeing you next week, take care and again Sarah, thank you very much.

SG: Thanks Ryan.


About the Author:

Ryan Perry is the founder and CEO of Simple Biz Support, Inc. Ryan started video blogging in 2009 as an alternative to written blogs to create visibility and credibility online. During the workweek, he enjoys helping small business owners harness the power of video to grow their companies. On the weekends, he enjoys hiking and searching out waterfalls throughout the state of California.

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