By Eric Rosenberg
The holiday shopping season traditionally kicks off with Black Friday, the annual shopping holiday the day after Thanksgiving that brings retailers “into the black” for the year, indicating a profitable period. But Black Friday alone is rarely enough to compete and make a profit in today’s market. Instead, many business owners run holiday sales to boost business during the busiest time of the year.
1. Start With the Math
In business, there is a concept of selling some products at a small loss to boost the sales of high margin products. These “loss leaders” can work well to boost the top line, but you can’t run a business with a focus only on revenue. You have to turn a profit to succeed in business.
Do the math and calculate margins on the products you expect to sell the most, and figure how to turn lower margin customers into higher margin customers. If you can upsell, convert, or at least turn low margin customers into leads for high profit products, you should be in great shape.
2. Improve the Customer Experience
Many shoppers try new stores, both online and offline, during the holidays. In fact, the National Retail Federation shares that 27.4 percent of all retail sales took place during the holidays in 2015 and most business expect about 20 percent of sales to come during the holiday season.
This means the holiday season is your time to shine, not an opportunity to slack off on customer service and expect the sales to just roll in. The holidays are your opportunity to impress new visitors with a wonderful first impression. Make sure that first impression is a good one, and be ready to turn every unhappy customer into a happy customer if anything goes wrong.
3. Use Consistent Branding & Marketing
If you are going to take the time and effort to advertise your business, make sure it doesn’t go to waste. Use consistent branding and marketing to give your advertising push the greatest impact. A sale works best when it creates long-term brand affinity and not just a one-time boost in sales.
Your color scheme, logos and other media assets should all match and follow the same rules. If you are new to all of this marketing stuff, learn how to create a brand style guide you and your team can use to maintain consistency when promoting your business.
4. Upgrade Business Technology
Whether your customers checkout through an online cart or a cash register in the store, make sure it is a simple, efficient, and enjoyable experience. The worst thing in retail is getting a potential customer all the way to checkout and losing the sale! Take every possible pain point out of the checkout experience for the best conversion rate. Modern systems also make the management and tracking of sales very simple, as you can put time bounds on specific deals so your staff doesn’t have to think about it.
While it may seem like a big hurdle, having modern POS systems that tie into inventory, ordering and other business processes is key. The investment may be sizable, but the payoff comes in the form of cost savings every month indefinitely. If you are thinking of doing an upgrade before the holidays but fear the cash crunch, check out your options to get a short-term business loan in the Nav Marketplace where they review 45 different lending options.
5. Advertise Where Your Target Customers Hang Out
Think about your target customer for your business. Is it someone in retirement? A Millennial? Based on who shops most at your business, you should custom tailor your advertising for your sale.
If your customers are all heavy Facebook users (common for younger adults and Millennials), Facebook is where you should focus your ads. But retirees are not hanging out on social media all that much, so for them you would want to advertise your sale elsewhere. To get the best bang for your buck, put your ads in front of the most targeted audience possible.
6. Turn Loyal Customers Into Evangelists
Odds are your business has a core following of loyal customers and a larger group of occasional customers. Use your sale as an opportunity to upgrade occasional customers into loyal ones and turn loyal customers into evangelists.
Referral and rewards programs work really well for this. If you sell online, an app like King Sumo makes much of the process automatic and helps you automatically reward existing customers for sharing with new ones.
7. Capture Customers for Repeat Business
Holiday sales give you a limited window of an attentive audience, but your business will thrive if you can turn a portion of those holiday visitors into year-round shoppers. Plan ahead to find opportunities to do so through incentive programs, amazing quality customer experiences, and always following through on promises and customer service guarantees.
Think about the businesses you frequent throughout the year. What are they doing to bring you back again and again? If you can offer the same qualities in your business, customers will follow your lead and turn into loyal, repeat customers. That’s the bread and butter every business owner hopes for.
Eric Rosenberg is a finance, travel, and technology writer originally in Ventura, California. When away from the keyboard, Eric enjoys exploring the world, flying small airplanes, discovering new craft beers, and spending time with his wife and little girl. You can connect with him at his own finance blog, Personal Profitability.
This article originally appeared on Nav.com.