Orange sticky note on corkboard that reads "Fourth Quarter"

Are you Q4 Ready?

I know. I know what you’re thinking: “Erika, I haven’t even recovered from back-to-school shopping. How can you possibly expect me to think about holiday shopping now?”

But, guess what? Labor Day is almost here, and you know what that means. You have a ton of work to do to make sure you get ahead of the curve and close out the year on a high note.

It’s Not Too Early to Start Strategizing for Q4!

If you own a retail or retail-support business, it’s time to start thinking about the usual marketing suspects: creating holiday graphics for your website, developing promotional holiday campaigns, and brainstorming innovative ways to attract customers.

If you’re in retail, these things are probably no-brainers. But there are also less obvious marketing and sales strategies to consider whether or not the holiday shopping craze directly drives your sales:

  • Are there people in your industry who create gift guides? Could your business benefit from landing a spot in the guide?
  • Could you create a program or host a special event geared toward getting corporate partners to use your business as a gift for clients or staff members?
  • Could your business save people precious time around the holidays or remind them about other end-of-the-year deadlines?

Let’s think through each of these examples to get you thinking about how you can apply similar ideas to your business:

1. Holiday Gift Guides

Depending on your audience, print or online gift guides are excellent places to invest in a well-designed and targeted promotional ad. Around the holidays, influencers often create gift guides geared toward their audiences. Tech blogs, women’s magazines, and news outlets are prominent examples. But no matter what your industry, it couldn’t hurt to contact a popular blogger or influencer and collaborate on a holiday feature post. You could even offer them a free ‘taste’ of your product or service to help them feel extra inspired to refer you to others.

2. Programs or Special Events

Corporations, local businesses, and other business partners are always looking for unique gifts for clients, vendors, and staff members. Make it easy for them to choose to include your business by doing some of the thinking and legwork for them. Hosting a special event is a natural fit during the holidays. For example, spas and salons could host a special pampering session during lunchtime or right at the end of the workday for nearby businesses. Have your promotional items or postcards packaged and ready to go so that business owners can easily slip them into gift bags later.

3. Providing Value Beyond the Material

It seems like every person you encounter during the holiday rush is stressed, short on time, and worried about her finances. As a business, if you can offer people a break from all the craziness, you will create a lasting impression in their minds that carries value beyond the material. If you provide services like healthcare or housecleaning, send your customers reminders about upcoming dates prodding them to think ahead about scheduling appointments early.

Also, if you are physically located near other shops with a lot of appeal to holiday shoppers, make good use of the additional retail traffic in your area. For example, if you own a restaurant or bar, offer a limited lunchtime or quick appetizer menu to save busy shoppers time during pit stops between checking off items on their shopping lists. Another great way to partner with other nearby businesses is to run a deal where retail customers show their receipts to receive a discount from your company.

What If You Own a Virtual Business?

What if your business is exclusively online, but you are not running an e-commerce business? Can you still capitalize on the holiday rush? Absolutely! Here are a few suggestions:

1. Reward loyal customers by offering them something special.

It just so happens that your special offer hits their inboxes around the holiday season. The benefit of running special offers like this is that everyone is in ‘spending mode.’ The downside is that it’s extra important to make your offer stand out from the crowd of promotions your customers receive from every other business on the planet.

 2. Help customers be smart with their money.

The end of the year means a lot of financial deadlines. People with certain types of Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s) need to spend their remaining balances on healthcare products and services, or they lose it. Some employees need to use up their vacation time before the end of the year. Some businesses need to make equipment purchases by the end of the year for tax purposes. Can you think of promotions to help customers spend their money more wisely?

3. Consider getting involved with a local charity.

The holiday season also puts people in the mood to give. And conscientious shoppers are always on the lookout for spending their money in a way that does more good in the world than simply making the recipient of the gift smile. Giving back to your community is a great way to show your gratitude as a person and as an intelligent business owner. Everyone wins when businesses give back!

At Spring Insight, even though our busiest time of year is not typically Q4, we still love the holidays. Our biggest challenge is always thinking up new ways to make spring seem relevant during the dead of winter. But, hey, it sharpens our strategy skills. So if you’d like help with your marketing or website strategy for Q4 (or any time of year), we’re here for you. Contact us today!

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