It’s that time of year again. Trees are beginning to appear in the windows of high street shopping stores. The same old songs are on the radio again. Mariah Carey is preparing to receive her largest cheque of the year, and Noddy Holder is rubbing his hands in anticipation of getting his only cheque of the year. Christmas is upon us, and whether you love the season or you can’t stand it, you’re going to have to deal with it. And so is your small business.

We understand that Christmas can be a nervous time of year for small businesses. Unless you’re actively involved in seasonal trade, you can be negatively impacted by seasonal trade. People stop buying the things they’d normally buy from you, go and buy Christmas related items instead, and then come back to you in January. That’s all very well and good for them, but what about you? You still need to keep the bills paid during the darkest month of the year, too!

But Christmas trading doesn’t have to be a lottery. It shouldn’t just be a case of opening for business and hoping someone walks through the door. In fact, if we were going to use a gambling analogy, we’d say that Christmas trading should be more like a slot machine with generous odds, of the kind that Vegas Slots. You might still need a little luck to land the jackpot, but with that and good strategy, you can shift the odds in your favour.

Get A Charity Partner For The Season

Christmas is a time of giving, be that cards, gifts, love or charity. It’s the time of year, as Bill Murray’s character memorably put it in ‘Scrooged’, that we try to be our very best selves; the person we spend the rest of the year wanting to be. People like to feel good about themselves during the Christmas season, and giving a little to charity is an easy way for them to achieve that. If you can make that a simple process for them, they’re likely to spend money with you.

It doesn’t have to be a huge charity either. Picking one that’s local to you and does good things for your area will probably have a bigger impact for a small business. It will enhance your reputation locally, and help you to be seen as getting involved in the right things. It also makes a nice story for the local paper. You don’t have to spend a lot – just donate a small percentage of takings to the charity, or run a joint fundraising event with them.

Make Your Branding Festive

The last thing you want to be seen as during Christmas time is a Scrooge. Plenty of your competitors will be embracing the season with both hands, and you don’t want to be any different. Get hold of your web designer, or whoever does your graphics, and add a festive theme to your online presence. That doesn’t just go for your website either, have festive versions of your social media logos and get them uploaded straight away. You want to make sure people notice, of course, so make sure you get an email out to all your contacts wishing them a Merry Christmas period in plenty of time. Just a subtle little reminder that you’re still there waiting to help them might be all they need to place that final order for the year.

Offer Christmas Discounts

Relax, we’re not suggesting that you give your stock away. We’re suggesting that you take advantage of the best form of marketing there is – word of mouth. Although these days it happens more online than it does anywhere else, so maybe we should start calling it ‘word of fingers’? Either way, this is a good time of year to engage with your social media followers and offer them some discounts.

You don’t have to go crazy; choose some specific items you can afford to make a little less on, offer a discount code, put it on social media and ask your followers to share it. If it’s a good offer, it should travel far and wide. Another approach you could take is to offer 50% a certain product or product range if you can get a specific amount of re-tweets or shares on a post. It might hurt to give something away for less than its worth, but the free advertising you’ll get is worth more than the loss on the sales.

Consider Gifts

Obviously, you can’t send free things to your entire client base. It wouldn’t make any financial sense to do so, either. But you might want to think about offering something with every order made during December. People love to feel like they’re getting something for free, and if you can find an offering that you could put with your product to give them that feeling, they’ll be more likely to order.

Do you have any sample stock you can’t sell, and could give away? Could you send festive vouchers to all buyers? Could you partner with another company and send anyone who orders during a certain time a personalized gift, like a mug? Obviously the cost of the gift would have to be subtracted from the profit of each sale, but selling 100 products and taking away the value of each gift is going to give you a better bottom line than selling fifty at normal price. And if it isn’t, you’ve likely got your profit margins wrong.

This is Christmas. It’s a time of giving, and a time of peace on Earth, but it’s also the time of year when consumers tend to spend far more than any other time of year. You need to get a slice of that enhanced spend; that’s where your own Christmas bonus is coming from. Try a couple of these ideas and see if they work for you. If they do, let us know. If you have any of your own to share, feel free to chip in. The more great ideas there are in circulation, the better it is for all of us!