The mistake: Lowering prices to attract customers and boost year-end income.
Why is this bad? “It’s a tough road to come back from,” says serial entrepreneur Nate Tsang, creator of market analysis software WallStreetZen. “Customers expect another promotion next year.” This headache is twofold: Customers will tell friends to wait for the holiday sale, and over time, your long-term income per customer will drop.
The fix: Hold prices stable. If you want to do a holiday promotion, introduce new features or a “free” add-on. Customers will appreciate the extras but won’t learn to count on promotions, Tsang says.
The mistake: Skipping seasonal products, services, and add-ons.
Why is this bad? “A lot of people shop seasonally,” says brand analyst Melanie Peterson. If you skip seasonal specialties, you’re “losing out on moneymaking opportunities.”
The fix: Put out seasonal inventory or services now—and if it makes sense for your business, even start including New Year’s offerings. “Some people like to shop before the actual season,” she says.
The mistake: Hitting pause on marketing or hiring in November and December, a common practice among business-to-business companies that think their customers will be distracted by the holidays. “A lot of business owners slow down marketing toward yearend where sales seem precarious,” says operations consultant Diane Lam.
Why is this bad? It leads to a sluggish January and misses holiday opportunities. “I personally sold almost $40,000 in the last two weeks of December 2020,” Lam says. “Many business owners are looking to invest in December to offset their 2021 tax revenues.”
The fix: Keep all pumps running, especially hiring. “Now is the perfect time to onboard so your team can hit the ground running in January,” she says.
The mistake: Blasting holiday promotions across myriad social media sites.
Why is this bad? It sabotages your efforts to build a genuine following. “You’re spread too thin, especially during the holidays,” says Kyle Dulay, founder of influencer marketplace Collabstr. Facebook users want fun, easily digestible, and shareable posts; Instagram users will respond to content that visually reflects your company aesthetic; LinkedIn users will consume business information.
The fix: “Go all in on one or two channels to build a strong audience. You can then market directly to this audience rather than buying ads,” says Dulay.
The mistake: Not adopting the timing and moves of major competitors.
Why is this bad? Like it or not, it’s the large companies that set customer expectations. “We are already seeing big-box retailers advertising Black Friday deals and pushing their holiday ads. Small business should be doing the same,” says Kenya Adams, chief executive officer of public restroom product line PantyBuddy.
The fix: If the industry leaders are doing something, you should do it too. “Follow the trends,” Adams says.
The mistake: Not rewarding and appreciating employees.
Why is this bad? “Retaining great talent is more important than ever,” says Charles Edge, chief technology officer of venture capital firm Bootstrappers. mn. “The hiring climate has changed drastically. It’s taking double the time to hire talent, and a good 20% salary increase.”
The fix: Sweeten the deal for your employees. Depending on your resources and employees’ interests, this can be done through more pay, of course, but can also include better benefits, training opportunities, or remote work options.
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