Over the course of the year, consumers experience different highs and lows that impact their ability to spend. The numerous holidays that fill up the calendar also have some bearing on one’s bank account and the way one spends. For a business, it then becomes imperative to know your customer base and to capitalise on the peak periods of spending. It is not easy to measure the consumer demographic’s spending because it is ever-changing and uncertain, however as a business, it is important to adequately prepare for holiday seasons and to reasonably anticipate higher consumer demand as people are more inclined to spend during the holiday cycle.
Despite the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and economic factors beyond our control, we are now approaching the festive season. Businesses should also be looking forward to one of the busiest shopping days of the year – Black Friday, which will be observed on 25 November – by making now the right time for them to start beefing up on how to tackle the incoming holiday season. There are several ways to prepare small businesses for this spending cycle.
Planning in time is key to maximising profits and minimising stress. In preparation for the incoming holiday season and the others that will follow, a good start would be managing operational expenses more especially during the slower periods and saving more from the peak periods.
Having a closer look at your inventory for the past year is a good way to analyse how you should go into the holiday season. Through inventory management, one can see the sale numbers that will determine how product supply should be. Doing this ahead of time gives more room to modify product offerings. Through this one can take into consideration how to make their products more appealing to the specific holiday.
Be flexible, and have a plan in place that can adapt to the times. The plan should consist of the following aspects: the baseline, worst-case scenario and best-case scenario. From these develop solutions that cater to each aspect. In this way, you are always prepared for any situation.
Marketing and Communications
Formulating a market plan is imperative. Holiday advertising may seem like a daunting task however it can be simplified. Focus on refining your marketing and content strategies. In the context of township businesses, the new lead market heading into Easter is the out-of-town travellers who are visiting home and flocking townships during this period. Township businesses are multi-faceted, and many of the visitors may be unfamiliar with their offerings. In preparation for this holiday, township businesses need to focus on brand recognition and product awareness as a tool to increase sales.
Analyse your current customer base, and have an in-depth look at what they like and what they do not like. Having a look at the current market trends will help you formulate an adequate plan for your marketing and promotions strategy.
Maximise marketing channels, and make use of social media platforms, ads, emails, and bulk SMSs to advertise. Amplifying communication channels is an effective medium for customer engagement. Investing in paid ads to boost advertising has been made easier on all social media platforms. Boosted posts allow you to promote content to target audiences. You have room to choose based on a wide range of criteria, including interests, location, age, and behaviour. It is an effective, affordable way to market your business.
With proper budgeting, comes great rewards. The end goal is to run a sustainable business operation. You should be able to forecast your finances in advance. You need to be disciplined about saving money. To keep your business afloat, you need to preserve the profits made during busy periods, especially profits that have exceeded expectations. The prospect of new customers should not tempt you into more expenditure. In this way, you can manage your cash flow with discipline. The money generated during this time is what will keep the business functional during the slower, off-season period.
Discounts and promotions. During the holiday season, a lot of people are looking for bargains and customers expect incentives. There are different ways to offer customers discounts, this could be through a discounted percentage or a set price. This should be dependent on your sales and profit margins. It is important to remain cognisant of your customers and what they would like.
The holiday season can be an overwhelming time for businesses however these steps can help you streamline and efficiently plan for this time. The key is to plan. In all aspects of communication, product management and sales. Having a plan that is honest and realistic about the state of your business will minimise unpredictability. The holiday season is generally a short period, maximise them when possible.
About Shantall Ramatsui
Shantall Ramatsui is the founder and Chief Implementation Officer of Shantui Solutions, an enterprise development agency.
She has over 10 years of experience in corporate marketing, business development, public relations and management. A public relations maven and serial entrepreneur who has served on various executive committees of business associations in South Africa, she aims to influence small businesses to succeed in becoming sustainable entities. This is evident in her support of the Township Economy Revitalisation Programme.
About Shantui Solutions
Shantui Solutions is an enterprise development agency that services the SME market by providing high-quality data and services that lead to confident decision-making and improved processes. The services include Brand Management, Business Development, Business Planning, Business Process Management, Company Registration, Digital Marketing, Funding Solutions, Marketing, Public Relations Coaching, Research and Restructuring.