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It may seem premature to be thinking about “the most wonderful time of the year,” but before you know it, the holiday season will be here. To be ready for the holiday rush and to stay ahead of the competition, you’ll need a plan. Here are a few tips to help you prepare:

Develop a Holiday Strategy

Whatever angle you choose, a great strategy takes time to plan and execute, so starting months beforehand can give you an edge.

Budget. Before you begin your holiday planning, you’ll need to know what you can spend so you know what you can do.

Sales. Everyone likes to save money, even if it’s a small amount. So it’s no surprise that according to a G/O Digital research study, 59 percent of consumers say they prefer to shop at businesses with the best deals and promotions. If you plan to offer exclusive holiday deals, decide now when you’ll run your sales, for how long, for which products and what your message will be.

Marketing. Even the best sale won’t be successful if people don’t know about it. Decide how you’ll get the word out. Will it be social media, traditional advertising outlets, flyers, signs or a combination? If you’re planning to run a contest or donate a percentage of your sales to charity, spread the word!

Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday encourages people to support small businesses by doing their holiday shopping the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Last year, more than 100 million Small Business Saturday shoppers spent almost $13 billion. You can get tips on how to market the event and even free customizable materials and templates to get you started.

Determine Buying Patterns and Stock Up

Ask yourself four questions:

  • Which products or services are most in-demand this year?
  • Which of my competitors’ offerings are popular?
  • What were my best-selling products or services during previous holiday seasons?
  • Did I have enough staff scheduled last year?

Offer Deals on Unpopular Items

If you have a stock of unpopular items that have been making little traction with customers, the last few weeks of the year are a great time to move it. A clearance sale may be just the push you need in the countdown to gift-giving and post-holiday frenzy for close-out deals.

Get In the Holiday Spirit

As you enter the holiday season, a little bit of decorating can go a long way. Some businesses reported anecdotally that they saw increased traffic when they hung lights outside during the holidays, with multicolored lights having an especially noticeable impact. For your digital presence, simply updating your social media photos and making holiday-themed posts can attract customers.

Monitor and Measure and Have a Plan B

Monitoring and measuring how things are going are critical to success. Don’t be afraid to change the plan if you see things aren’t going as you expected.

Help Your Business Thrive All Year Long

At Navy Federal Credit Union, we want your business to thrive not just during the holidays, but throughout the year. Watch success stories and learn more tips for starting, managing and growing your business on Navy Federal’s Business Solutions page.

This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.