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10 To-Do's To Prep Your Shop For The Holidays

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It's officially Thanksgiving and Black Friday week! This time is usually a little bit chaotic both at home and in our craft businesses. It's super important that we stay focused to reach our goals.

Yesterday, I received a message from one of you gals asking me for some advice on making sales during the holidays and prepping for the holidays a bit last minute. Talk about last minute, right? Black Friday is THIS FRIDAY! Still, I told her, you've got a few days. You can do this!

1. Take inventory of your business. In this phase of planning, you should take count of your shipping supplies, blanks, and vinyl. These are the three things that you cannot be without; and so if you are running low, it’s time to Amazon Prime for them now. Next, write down on paper what designs you can make for the upcoming holidays, don’t think about Thanksgiving anymore, unless you’re offering last minute “porch pick-ups” for items you’ve already made. Instead, think ahead to Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s. This is what people are shopping for this week. If you haven’t yet purchased designs, you should do that today. Purchase your favorite designers “Best Sellers” and start making, photographing, listing, and sharing. I’m seeing people sell a lot of:

- Toilet Paper Rolls
- Wine Glasses
- Mugs
- Wood Signs
- Bodysuits and Shirts
- Kitchen towels and aprons
- Bags (tote bags, wine bags, gift bags, travel bags)
- Personalized items (elves, ornaments, monograms)

2. Create a "Gift Guide" for your customers. This to-do is one of the easiest, yet I don’t see very many of you doing it. I’m not sure why we sometimes run our businesses different from “big box” stores. Seriously, they make a ton of money during the holiday season using this one tactic. They organize their inventory and present it to customers in a way where the work is done for them. Oh, you’re looking for a gift for your spouse, check out our “Gifts for Men” section. You get the point, right? Take this strategy and apply it to your business ASAP. It’s as easy as just creation different shop categories if you sell on Etsy or have your own website. If you’re selling strictly through your Facebook page, then just create albums. Don’t delay on this. You want to have this item done before Black Friday for sure. It’s where you will send your customers to shop!

3. Set Up a Black Friday promotion. This season is all about profit for us as business owners, but this season is ALL ABOUT DEALS for our customers. You need to run a sale. Let me repeat myself, YOU NEED TO RUN A SALE! If you’re telling yourself that you can’t do this because you won’t make any profit, then it’s time to adjust pricing. I’m not saying that you must give the farm away, or offer a large percentage off deal, but you need to do something to entice your customers to buy now. You can offer: a free gift with purchase, gift wrapping, buy one get one half off, or anything else that is doable for you. If you’re on Etsy, then you definitely want to have a Black Friday sale, and you want to set it up immediately! Customers can now filter by “Items on Sale,” and you know that they will be doing so!

4. Share “holiday themed” photos and sale graphics. Before you skip this item, stop yourself! I know that a lot of people have a hard time with this one, but don’t run away yet! Creating graphics for the holidays is what will inform and engage your customers on social media to buy. If you’re not creating a “holiday themed” graphics for them, then they aren’t going to stop to read what you have to offer. It’s as simple as that. For those of you who’ve never heard of www.Canva.com, you’ll want to go there now! They have a lot of FREE ready-made holiday graphics that you can just insert some text into and start using. They even have a FREE phone app! As for your product photos, you don’t have to go all out either, but most of us already have Christmas decorations, just use some of these as props in your photos. Make them look festive and they will sell! Make sure that you’re using natural lighting and a consistent backdrop to make your photos stand out. *TIP, always watermark what you share online to avoid others using your beautiful photos!

5. Offer free or faster shipping. Lately I’ve heard a lot of negativity when it comes to this topic. People are REALLY against this for some reason. You guys, Amazon Prime exists, and we’re now playing in a whole different ball game. Don’t let free shipping scare you. Add the cost of into your pricing and viola, you can now afford to offer this. Pick up Priority Mail boxes, the kind that are all about “If It Fits, It Ships” and you’ll know exactly how much you will need to add into your pricing to adjust for this promotion. Remember that this could be the decision maker for your customers. We all love free shipping deals, and they are no different. If you just cannot adjust for this type of promotion, then you will want to speed up your processing times and promote “FAST Shipping.”

6. Be active and promote on social media. This to-do is HUGE! You must listen to me okay. You MUST BE ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA! This is where your tribe hangs out, and you must reach them here. If you don’t have a Facebook page, set one up now! If you don’t have a huge engaged following, then you need to start creating more engaging posts. Questions, polls, funny memes, quotes, holiday videos, etc. These are the type of posts that get them to comment and thus the connections start happening. You don’t want to just post your items for sale, and hope that they buy. You want to build a relationship with them. You want to share behind the scenes photos of you working on new products, sneak peeks at upcoming deals, and past customer reviews. This week, since it is a very important holiday week, you want to plan out your daily post to ensure that you have success on social media. If you’re on Facebook, then you know how quickly the feed moves. Plan to post 3-5 posts per day through Cyber Monday. Here are some ideas for you:

- The day before Thanksgiving, share a “sneak peek” photo of your holiday inventory.
- On Thanksgiving Day, tell them how thankful you are for their support and wish them a happy holiday.
- For Black Friday, share your promotion graphics and create an album with all the holiday items you’re offering for sale.
- During the Black Friday weekend, you can also ask them to share with you what Black Friday deals they scored.
- On Saturday, write a post telling them your “Small Business” story, don’t hold back.
- On Monday, offer them a Cyber Monday promotion, that they will love.

7. Send out a newsletter. If you have been working on building your email list since I last posted about it, good for you! If you haven’t, then now is the time to get this going. You can create a FREE newsletter at www.mailchimp.com. You can get people to join this newsletter before the holidays still by sharing it through social media. Tell them that you will notify them first of your holiday deals, or you can offer them a special coupon. If you have an Etsy shop, post a link to your newsletter in your shop announcement, listing descriptions, and you can even create a graphic promoting your list to add to all your listings. It could say, “Wait, before you buy, join our newsletter and receive ___% off.” Adjust this to what you can do, but having an email list is VERY IMPORTANT! It’s your straight-away into your customers’ ears. For those of you who already have a list, even if it doesn’t have hundreds and thousands of subscribers, SEND THEM SOMETHING! As a matter of fact, send them multiple emails this week. Here are some ideas:

- A sneak peek of your holiday deals.
- Thank you message for Thanksgiving with a coupon code for Black Friday.
- Black Friday promotions and links to your shop.
- A Small Business Saturday email asking them to shop “handmade” for the holidays.
- A Cyber Monday deal for them to take advantage of.

8. Try promoted listings. If you sell on Etsy, then this to-do is for you! If you’ve been holding out on paying for promoted listings, this is your time to get over that fear. Set up a promoted listings budget for your business, and get it going. If you’ve got decent SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and you’re wanting to be found more during the holidays, then this is your gateway to that. Your competitors are for sure going to be using this strategy to up their sales. Don’t think so much of what you’re going to be spending on these listings, but think of all the potential that there is when more people will see your items. You can even set up the bids as low as a penny, but remember, the higher you go, the more impressions you will get.

9. Post your return policies. You can thank me for reminding you to do this later ;). Before the holiday hits, and your promotions start, sit down and write out your return policies. We all know that customers have buyer’s remorse as soon as their items arrive sometimes. If you accept returns, exchanges, or if you don’t, you want to have this out there for them to see. If you have an Etsy shop, then they’ve set up a space for you to add these in. You can also share them on your Facebook page if that’s where you conduct your business. Simply create a post, and then make it your “Pinned Post” to keep it at the top. Use this “Pinned Post,” as your place to also let your customers know your hours of operation, your processing times, and even post links to your shop, newsletter, coupon codes, and anything else that you think your customers would find important to know.

10. Include a "Thank You" coupon. You guys, the holidays are just getting started! After Thanksgiving and Black Friday, we’ve got Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s coming, and then comes President’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc. You want to send your customers out a “Thank You” coupon, message, or deal enticing them to come back to you after this purchase. You can include this in your receipts, in an email, or even on your packaging. Remember that if you delight your customers with great products, deals, fast processing or free shipping, great customer service AND you offer them a reason to come back, then you are sure to make them fans for life!

I hope this list has been helpful to all of you who will be joining the holiday madness this season with your craft business. This may seem like too much to do in just from here till Thanksgiving Day, but get it done and you'll be reaping the rewards!

Share with me if you plan to partake in the holidays this year and if this helped you at all!

Give thanks to your customers on Thanksgiving day. Let them know how thankful you are for their support and wish them a happy holiday.

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