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Handmade 101
 
   
 
5 Tips For A Successful Holiday Season
Author: Stephanie Taylor Christensen
Thursday, October 12, 2017

The fall and winter season bring a host of holiday opportunities for handmade business owners, including Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, and the New Year. Use these guidelines to plan your inventory needs, holiday marketing calendar, and pricing strategies to ensure you’re prepared to reach new prospects, deepen relationships with existing customers, and finish the year strong. 

Prepare your payment tools.
If you haven’t yet secured the technology you need to accept credit cards at a point of sale and remote events like holiday bazaars, festivals and craft shows, make sure you’re ready to process secure credit and debit card payments online and off before the holiday season kicks off. There are now many payment processors whose products are designed specifically to empower small business owners to accept credit and debit card payments in a variety of channels--and some provide free tools to transform your mobile device into a secure payment terminal. Transaction fees, service agreements and capabilities vary significantly for each provider; research your options and begin service with the provider that’s right for your business before the holiday rush begins. 

Identify patterns from past seasons.
Review your businesses metrics and performance from past holiday seasons to identify sales trends, marketing analytics, monthly revenue and operating expenses you could leverage to forecast trends, challenges and opportunities for the upcoming holiday season. The more objective your data, the better empowered you are to identify patterns and capitalize on them to gain efficiencies in your holiday sales strategy, especially as it relates to inventory planning and fulfillment, and how to time marketing events to improve slower sales days in the holiday season. 

Tailor products to holiday buyers. 
Holiday buyers tend to respond to different features, benefits, price points and products than your target audience might. Adapt existing product lines to create prewrapped, holiday-themed gift sets specifically designed for the recipients on a buyer’s holiday list, including teacher and hostess gifts, and workplace gift exchanges. Gift sets make it easy for customers who may not be in your target market to see the value in your products, and empower you to experiment with price points that could improve your profit margin and average sale amount throughout the holiday season. 

Branded gift cards can also ease holiday shopping stress for gift-givers who can’t find an appropriate item--and have become one of the most requested items by gift recipients. When you offer branded gift cards to holiday shoppers you’re also better equipped to reduce the likelihood of post-holiday returns. 


Make your holiday products easy to Find.
Invest in a low-cost search engine optimization tool like SpyFu (basic plans start at about $35 a month) to identify which holiday-specific keywords you can incorporate into your holiday product names, website categories, product copy, as well as images, video, infographics or blog content you use in your marketing campaigns. The more you leverage search engine optimization in your online and social media holiday marketing strategy, the better empowered you are to reach a broad audience of holiday shoppers who are looking for the types of products you sell. The tool can also help you identify tweaks you can apply to your website to create holiday-specific categories or themed pages that designate gifts for “him” and “her,” or suggest gifts by price point, purpose, or a specific holiday event. 


Add value to stand out.
Holiday shopping season demands that you work extra hard to stand out from the competition. Value-added services that solve the specific challenges holiday shoppers face in your holiday marketing offer can serve as a competitive advantage. Consider free shipping, free “stocking- stuffer” premiums with a minimum purchase, buy online/pick up in store shopping options, courtesy gift wrap services, and extended shopping hours or private shopping events for your most valued customers during the holidays. When you position value-added benefits as a holiday offering, you can experiment with new business strategies without committing to them for the long-term, and have customer-centric messages you can promote in holiday-themed marketing campaigns. 



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