We’re upon it again – that most feared and celebrated of retail seasons. The one that can build your bank or break it. It’s the most anticipated time of the year – the holidays.

Many businesses attract up to 29% of their annual sales from Black Friday through Christmas, according to the National Retail Federation. And all signs are pointing to a very healthy 2018 season. Last year exceeded expectations at almost $692 billion, unemployment is down and the economy is up.

How can you capitalize on that?

Here are five ways:

1. Boost your Visibility Across All Media

You want to remain top of mind for holiday shoppers who are online, out and about and collecting holiday cards at their homes. Talk to prospects throughout the season, as there will always be last minute buyers. You can do this in a number of ways:

Online

Use it to get ideas and then to sell your wares. Pinterest and Instagram are great places to spot up-to-the-minute trends so you can leverage them if they work for you. Then use email and social media to reach out to your prospects and customers.

Promotional emails and digital newsletters get the word out fast and can be shared easily. You can target newcomers with special deals to help them move along their customer journey. The founder of email marketing firm Quick Sprout, Neil Patel, notes that ,“In spite of social media’s viral potential, email still wins as the most disruptive method to reach and woo your customers.” McKinsey tells us that email marketing is three times more effective than social media, and the average customer order clocks in 17% higher.

With proximity marketing through companies like Smart Antenna or iBeacon, you can also target customers nearby. Since they may be looking up your information on their phones, now’s a great time to make sure that your contact information and hours are correct on Google and that your reviews are the happy type (or you’re remedying the not-so-happy ones)!

Related: How to Get Your Store Found (and Frequented) Online

In-Store

Deck your halls now with deals and in-store signage. It’s never too early to start shopping. In fact, the National Retail Federation says that 40% of shoppers start before Halloween! Some retailers even start decorating for the holidays in September….

While you’re at it, dress your windows for success too. An enticing display can really pull someone in. And if that doesn’t do it, cookies and hot drinks oughta help.

Direct Mail

Send actual holiday cards. While this ritual is becoming more of a lost art (we send about half as many as we did a decade ago), its impact is growing. When you receive fewer cards each year, each card becomes more meaningful. So if it’s possible, hand sign your cards to express your gratitude towards customers and prospects.

Related: How to Slash Direct Mail Costs without Sacrificing Quality

Community Events

Celebrations and community events abound this time of year! Offer hot cocoa and a t-shirt, create crafts or games for the kids to play, even get your employees dolled up for some caroling or cookie giving. It’s a festive way to help make the holidays come alive for your community.

2. Tailor Your Messaging

Now’s the time to pull out all the stops on deals. Offer special discounts and coupons designed to move peoples feet and fingers, and personalize them whenever possible. Make the discounts deeper if you spend more. Everyone expects Black Friday and Cyber Monday to have some of the better deals of the season, but in reality, most retailers discount all month long to draw people in.

Rather than cutting prices, you can add value with freebies like a tote bag or umbrella. These don’t cost much, but they do generate a lot of goodwill. You can also leverage loss leaders as door busters that bring in more customers.

Consider covering shipping costs as an incentive, since most retailers will be doing the same. You can build a buffer into the price, and it often results in higher sales. In fact, comScore discovered that 58% of shoppers have purchased more items just to qualify for free shipping, and 83% will wait two extra days for delivery if the shipping is free.

Related: What Is a Multi-Touch Campaign and Why Do You Need One?

3. Package for Success

Bundle products together to make buys easier and increase your profits. You’ll reap a higher average order and sell more products. Your customer will love the one-stop convenience, especially since they need to buy for a lot of people.

4. Keep the Sales Going

Rather than hosting one big long sale, pepper your messaging with flash sales, which tend to convey urgency and draw more overall sales. E-commerce solutions provider Monetate reports that 56% of businesses have higher email click-to-open rates during flash-sales than during regular campaigns. Since 50% of purchases take place during the first hour, you can run them quickly, with a countdown to move people to action. Social media and email are great ways to publicize this.

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5. Target Your Top Customers

Remember the 80/20 rule: Devote your budget to the 20% of your customers that drum up 80% of your sales. Give them special promotions, gifts, coupons, events, value adds or even a text or phone call. Not only will they show their loyalty, but word of mouth is a powerful thing, and they will reciprocate by singing your praises.

There are many ways to keep the holiday season humming in your cash register. The most important thing is starting now, no matter what you do. The time is ripe for celebrations, so here’s to your sales reports in January!

If you need a guiding hand to make sure you knock it out of the park this retail season, don't hesitate to contact our team members in web, print or digital marketing. They can help put together a customized marketing plan to maximize your holiday sales.

Written by Chris McCready

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