Whether you’re in the business of grooming dogs, feeding cats or baking pup cakes – I bet you’re looking forward to the holiday season with a mix of dread and anticipation.
For many small pet businesses the holiday season accounts for a big percentage of the annual sales, and a whole lot of the work in a small period of time and it can feel overwhelming and exciting at the same time.
Do you have a rock solid marketing and promotions plan in place? If not, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.
By planning your marketing activities now, you’ll have more time to help your business be a success during the holiday season.
It seems to me like the holiday season starts earlier and earlier each year. Traditionally, the official start of the holiday season used to be the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday), but now we see retailers start their holiday promotions in the days leading up to Thanksgiving and all the way through Cyber Monday – and the pet industry is no exception.
So let’s get planning!
Start with what you already know
Review your notes from last year’s holiday sales and try and remember what worked and what didn’t. What type of products were bestsellers, and which promotions were most attractive to your customers? Also think about what’s worked this year so far and build this into your plan.
Apply your learnings to this year’s holiday marketing plan.
What Products and Services will you Promote This Year?
- Identify your best sellers and make sure you order enough to meet demand.
- Look out for good deals that you can pass on to your customers in the form of discounts or other promotions.
- Order your products early – many suppliers offer early bird discounts, plus you don’t run the risk of scrambling to fill your shelves.
- You know your customers well – what type of promotions are most likely to get them to open their wallet? Money off? Buy one Get One Free? Free shipping?
But I don’t sell products – what sort of promotions can I do?
You can offer promotions even if you don’t sell physical goods. For example, dog groomers can offer an early bird discount for people who book early, and dog walkers can offer one free walk for every ten purchased. You could also offer discounted gift vouchers for your customers to buy ahead for the new year.
How to Get Your Promotions Seen
Pet parents get bombarded with marketing and promotions in the weeks and days leading up to the holiday season, so whatever your offer is, make sure you promote, promote and promote it again.
Its not enough to send out a newsletter once and expect people to remember it – the key is to use all marketing tools at your disposal, whether that’s a combination of google adwords, newspaper ads, a direct mail campaign, social media activities or a series of blogposts. If you have a physical location or storefront, don’t forget to print good quality signage and place outside and inside your store.
Start early just after Halloween and keep going until Christmas!
Here’s what you can start preparing today:
- Create a special landing page for each of your holiday offers, ready to go live whenever you decide to launch the promotions. Then once those pages are done, you can link all your online marketing activities and social media campaigns to them.
- Create banners and buttons to promote your offers across your website.
- Add a page with your holiday opening hours, and any days you might be closed.
- Plan a series of blogposts, and schedule them to go live during the holiday weeks. Great topics include pet safety during the holidays, pet treat recipes and any activities or charity events you might be involved in leading up to the holidays.
Social Media & Email:
- You know you will be incredibly busy in the next couple of weeks so plan a series of social media updates and pre-schedule them. Pre-scheduling is easy using Facebook’s built in scheduler, or a scheduling tool like Hootsuite that allows you to schedule posts to all your social media accounts.
- If you’re considering Facebook Advertising, then now is a good time to plan the copy and content of your ads.
- Write a number of promotional emails announcing and reminding your customers about your promotions. Email systems like Mailchimp let you schedule your emails in advance, which is a great time saver during the holiday season.
Signage & Printed Collateral:
No Matter how good your adverts might be, your customers will need to be reminded of your sales and promotions when visiting your store. Whether you choose to go for professionally printed posters or handwritten ones is a matter of personal preference and what goes best with your brand image.
When I worked in my friend’s pet boutique, we ordered heart shaped blackboard style wall signs for indoors, and a blackboard A-frame sign or outside the store. This worked great for us as the brand was all about personal service (and my handwriting is pretty neat).
You could also order printed posters from print on demand services like Zazzle (affiliate link). They have easy to use design tools and you can upload your own images and logo – making your own posters a simple process.
Advertising in Newspapers, Direct Mail
Traditional media such as radio, newspapers and Direct Mail will require a little more lead time to get organised so make sure you contact the media owners now and find out when their deadlines are. Also find out whether you will need to create the adverts yourself or if they have a creative department who can do this for you.
What’s your best tip for planning for the holiday season?