Deep Dive Into December Events

Cris Willis

The month of December has finally arrived in this crazy year.  For many retailers, this is your biggest and busiest month of the entire year.  Now, you face an increase in COVID cases worldwide and more restrictions being considered and enacted in many areas around the country.  Every retailer needs to be thinking about how to best serve their customers while facing possible new shutdowns.

Related: [Blog] Planning Your Holiday Events

Christmas is still coming.  Friends and family will still be celebrating by giving each other gifts.  Customers want to support their local stores now more than ever.  Take advantage of this gift-giving season and your customers’ support and make this month fun and festive!  You need to make it as easy as possible for your customers to shop with you.  Think about all the ways your customers experience your store and make sure your events and promotions are available to your customers in the way that they want to shop.

Here are some event ideas for your store this month

Santa

Many retail stores have Santa in their store every Christmas, but that is probably not feasible this year.  But everyone loves Santa, so pivot and figure out ways to still incorporate him into your events this season.  You need to plan fun things for the whole family even if they cannot all come and shop in your store.

  • Instead, have Santa read Christmas stories on Zoom or Facebook for your customers.
  • Film Santa in your store showing your top picks. You can do this on Instagram or Facebook Live, then post it to your website, and send the video out in an email.  Ask people to comment on the things that they want Santa to bring them for Christmas.

Trunk Shows

Take advantage of any vendors willing to send you merchandise for a limited-time Trunk Show.  Seek out local vendors who make their products and would like to set up a booth in your store one weekend.  Or work with the local vendor to do a Live Sale with them on social media and include their information in an email blast and on your e-commerce site.

All Trunk Shows can be done in the store and online.  If you are too afraid to go Live on your social media sites, you can always film yourself or someone else showing off the merchandise, giving the price, and telling the customers how they can purchase it.  Then post the video on your social media sites, website, and send it in an email.  If you do not know how to edit the video, I am sure you can find a middle school, high school, or college student who would like some spending money that can do it.

Ladies Night Out

Early December is a great time to host a Ladies Night out or Girls Night Out.  In non-COVID years we would gear everything towards drawing in a big crowd.  That is not your goal this year, but these ladies will still be looking for something fun to do, and they still need to finish their Christmas shopping.  So, here is an idea you can use this year.

  • Wine Down Wednesday – Choose 1 or 2 Wednesdays in December and host an after-hours shopping event in-store by reservation only and online.  Have in-store customers pay a fee to make their reservation and take that amount off their purchase.  Send out a Zoom link to the customers who want to participate online, walk them through the store and show them your top sellers and anything else they want to see.  You can then direct them to place their orders on your website, or you can be piling up the items they want and have them call in with their credit card and pick up curbside the next day.  And don’t forget to serve some wine if it is legal in your area.  Have fun with it and be creative.  Choose some fun promotions and products to push at this event.

Men’s Night

You can call this Scrooge Night, Desperate Dudes Night, or whatever you want; just make it fun for men.  Serve food that is “manly.”  Before COVID, we served BBQ, Pizza, and more.  This year it may be packaged foods like bags of pretzels, moon pies, and bottles of root beer, etc.  If it is legal in your area, you can serve beer and bourbon.  Offer a door prize that is something a man would want.  If you do not carry anything like that, then purchase something that just about any man would like.  You might need to stay open late for the men so that they can get there after work.  Invite them to come and shop all those Wish Lists you have collected.  Provide FREE Giftwrap and delivery, if possible.  This a great time to really push gift cards.  Offer a promotion on gift cards at the event.

If someone cannot make it to the store, be sure you offer a facetime call or a Zoom call, or another way for him to participate and get his Christmas shopping done.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Event

One of this event’s main objectives is to Have Fun and Be Festive!  Have all your associates dress up!  Serve refreshments, have door prize drawings, and make it a party.  We get one month to wear all our Christmas outfits, so we need places to wear them.  We always offered a discount off of one item to everyone wearing a festive outfit.

Set up a photo booth area in the store with fun props.  Then be sure to post all of the pictures on social media and have a contest for people to vote online for the “Ugliest Christmas Sweater.” Give the winner a $25, $50, or $100 store gift certificate.  Be sure to include everyone on social media as well.  Not everyone will be able to shop in the store during the event, so make sure they can participate online in the “Ugliest Christmas Sweater” contest.  Have them post a picture of themselves in their outfit on your site, and the image with the most shares and likes wins!

12 Days of Christmas

I went over this event in the Holiday Event Guide back in October.  (Click Here to download it now.)  So, I will not go over every detail in this article.  I will just cover some tips on how to make it more manageable.  Since this event takes a lot of planning, it is not something you can probably pull off if you have not already been working on it.

Most stores run this event the last 12 days before Christmas.  It is a great time to focus on stocking stuffers and generic gifts that just about anyone would want.

Here are some ideas you can do now to make your life easier when you get to this labor-intensive event.

  • Make an email template for this event that you can just plug in the special for each day. Start creating these daily emails now to get a head start.  Schedule them to go out each day.
  • Create a template for the store signage for each day’s promotion. Start making all of the signs as soon as possible. You will be glad to get this done.
  • Designate an area or table to put each day’s promotional product.
  • Group all the back stock of the promotional products together and mark them as to what day they go out on the floor and the promotion. Put the signage needed for that day with the product.
  • Determine who is responsible each day for taking down the signs from the day before and moving the product, and then putting up the new signs and the new product for the next day.
  • Plan your calendar for social media posts for each day. For the best results, go Live on social media each morning to let your customers know the deal of the day.

Getting organized now will make this event run much smoother for you. The last 12 days before Christmas are busy and stressful. Everything you can do now will make your life a little easier then.

Bonus Bucks/Bounce Back Coupons

Relationships do not end at the end of the year.  Everything you are doing now is building your relationship with your customer for the long term.  If December is one of your busiest months of the year, chances are January is one of your slowest months.  Give a coupon or bonus bucks with a code for future purchases (like Kohl’s cash). Don’t push it too far into the future. Usually, the best is two to four weeks out.  This will incentivize your customers to come back in January.

Be thinking about how you can reward your top customers in the new year.  I always mailed a Thank You Gift Certificate to my best customers by the end of January.  Depending on the size of your list and your price point, you can decide what the right numbers are for you.  We mailed out a $10 Gift Certificate with no expiration date to the top 20% of our customers.  The wording let them know this was our way of saying Thank You for supporting us.  Each year, we mailed a special gift certificate to emphasize how many years we had been in business and to thank our very best customers.  We would send a $25 Gift Certificate with no expiration date to the top number of customers equal to the number of years we had been in business.  We would let them know that this special gift certificate was only for our top 143 customers as we celebrate our 143rd year as a family-owned and operated business.

Phew. Take a Deep Breath

Now, take a deep breath, and if you start to feel overwhelmed, Click Here and listen to this song from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” When you are faced with a challenge that you do not think you can do, just remember to “Put One Foot in Front of the Other.”  This song has become a motto for me in my life, and it always gets me through.  Try it out; it has a catchy tune.

Bob Negen with WhizBang! Training holds a live event each month where you can get lots of great promotional ideas.  Check out the Retail Marketing Club and set aside 1 hour a month to participate in this group to learn and share marketing and promotion ideas for only $29 a month.

Cris Willis

Cris is a business coach for independent retailers. With 25 years of experience owning and operating a family business, she now guides retail owners to make smarter decisions regarding inventory management, marketing, sales training, product assortment, and more. When not at work, she loves to travel the country with her husband in their motorhome.

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