It seems every holiday season needs to come with a pep talk or a personal track and field coach. It’s the 100-meter dash you’ve been training for all year. Somehow after the summer lull it’s hard to gear up and create the grandmaster-end-of-year-plan. With so much opportunity for small businesses from Small Business Saturday to Cyber Monday, it’s hard to have every little detail planned and ready. We’ve created a roundup of the five things you can do to prepare for the holidays and have a killer end of 2015!

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin #smallbiz #smallbizsaturday Click To Tweet

#1 Pick one promotion. Decide on the one goal for your 2015 holiday season. If the goal is drive foot traffic, you may want to pick a Small Business Saturday promotion. If you’re an online retailer, your goal might be to drive sales on Cyber Monday. If you’re trying to build brand awareness, you might run a campaign like REI’s #optoutside and close your shop on Black Friday. No matter the goal, don’t try to do everything. Try a signal in the noise approach. It will not only be easier to communicate to your customers but it might just help you maintain focus (and sanity).

#2 Pick a partner. Why go it alone? Partnering with another small business can help with execution and accountability. If you have a physical location with foot traffic, think about partnering with your neighbor and cross-promoting. If your business is online, think about partnering with a similar or complementary product. You can co-market on social and drive new traffic for each business. Double the offers is double the fun!

#3 Create materials. Create a landing page and some graphics. No need to hire a designer or spend hours upon hours on materials. You just need a few simple, eye-catching graphics to share on social and on your website. We recommend keeping things simple and building a special landing page with LeadPages. You can also create simple graphics for your promotions using Canva or Pablo by Buffer.

#4 Schedule social in advance. Let’s face it. It’s going to be hectic. You won’t have time or bandwidth to remember to tweet or promote your special on social. So just don’t bother. Schedule a meeting with yourself on November 10th or on Saturday the 14th to focus and schedule out your social promotions. Use a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule out everything in advance. Remember to include all the right hashtags for each channel. For instance, here are the hashtags for Small Business Saturday: #SmallBizSaturday, #ShopSmall, #SmallBusinessSaturday and #SmallBizSat.

#5 Be ready for service first! The last thing that any shopper wants to experience during the holidays is a terrible service experience. If you’re the best shopping experience of the holiday season, your customers will surely tell all their friends and family when they are all hanging out eating turkey and pie. An American Express survey in 2011 found that three in five Americans (or 59%) would try a company for a better customer experience. Don’t make customer experience an afterthought! Live chats with customers is a fantastic way to differentiate your business and close more deals. Last year, Forbes published the peak shopping times (see below). Make sure your team is ready to chat live during these times!

Peak Shopping Times (EST)

  • Gray Thursday: 8:00PM – 10:00PM
  • Black Friday: 11:00AM – 1:00PM
  • Small Business Saturday: 11:00AM – 2:00PM
  • Sofa Sunday: 2:00PM – 4:00PM
  • Cyber Monday: 8:00PM – 10:00PM
Use these 5 tips to create your end of 2015 promotion plan. #smallbiz #cybermonday Click To Tweet

What are your tips for maintaining sanity during the holidays? Have you been able to grow sales and enjoy family time? We want to know your secrets! Please share your advice in the comments below!