Even if back-to-school and recital time are a dance store’s biggest seasons, a well-promoted holiday season can round out the year with a strong sales finish. Customers—and not just your regulars or even only dancers—are in the mood to buy, starting at Thanksgiving and stretching well into December. You can tap into that with well-thought-out marketing, stress-reducing tactics for busy shoppers and enticements to get people shopping in your store. Here’s a checklist.
Decide on your business priorities for the holiday season. Do you want to introduce new customers to your store, get more sales revenues, increase the spending of each customer or deepen the loyalty of your existing customers? Knowing exactly what you want makes it easier to know where to focus your marketing attention.
Make a budget now. If you’re going to be open longer hours or hold special events, you may need to hire extra staff or schedule more hours for your regular staff. And what about inventory? Have you looked at last year’s top holiday sellers and made sure you have enough stock? For items you’ll still be able to sell in the new year, you may decide to order more rather than lose holiday sales because you’ve run out. What promotions will you be offering? On what products?
Draft your holiday social-media content calendar. Maybe you’ll highlight a different product or dance genre each week. Or have daily promotions for the 12 days of Christmas. But plan for messages that tap into the emotions of the season, too. And start to create and bank photos that you can use for holiday posts. Is there a tagline you’ll use to brand your holiday promotions?
Take your customer service to even higher heights. Holidays are a stressful time for customers, and anything you can do to simplify their lives and reduce the stress will help. Consider sending an e-mail to holiday shoppers, thanking them for their purchase and letting them know how to contact you, should they have any problems with the gift or need to exchange it. Establish an easy holiday returns policy and communicate it clearly. Set up a gift-wrapping station that runs smoothly.
Reward loyal customers. It’s great to entice new customers with deals and promotions, but caring for your existing customers is just as important. After all, it costs a lot to replace a lost customer. Consider inviting your top customers to lunch or a special VIP store event to thank them for a year of shopping at your store. Or send them a personal holiday card or thank-you note by snail mail.
Make the store a comfortable and festive place. Polish your holiday displays; put out holiday treats. Music always adds to the mood. (Nutcracker or not? You know your customers best.) If you have space, provide seating for weary shoppers. Streamline your checkout to cap the store experience happily (and profitably).
Suggest gift bundles. Shoppers are 10 times less likely to buy if they have too many choices, research shows, and who hasn’t been an overwhelmed Christmas shopper, fresh out of ideas, staring blankly at merchandise displays? Help out by offering ready-made holiday gift bundles—at different price points, for different ages or for various dance genres. Display the bundles in the store, clearly marked with contents and prices.
Create a “gift guide for the dancers in your life.” Include the bundles but also plenty of ideas for individual gifts—for tiny tots, tapping teens, jazz dancers. Share the guide on social media and your website; hand it out to customers in the store.
Plant the idea of a group gift in customers’ minds. Gifts with a higher price point (and higher margins for you)—a pair of LaDuca shoes, say, or a fashion leotard, or high-end activewear—may be beyond the budget of one gift-giver but work perfectly as a group present from the whole family.
Keep a lid on shipping. If you have out-of-town or online customers you ship to, be aware that shippers have announced holiday surge pricing. United Parcel Service, for instance, will up its ground shipping 27 cents per package November 19–December 2 and December 17–23. So plan your biggest promotions for December 3–16, when there’s no surge pricing, advises Independent Retailer. “This will not only help avoid extra costs but also help even out sales between Black Friday and the week before Christmas.”