10 Steps to Prepare your Orange County Business Website for the Holidays

orange county online shopping seoThis year’s holiday is going to be one for the books.

Even if all previous sales records are not broken, a good holiday season is going to seem like a major success come January.

Still, for your small business in Orange County or anywhere in Southern California, the holiday sales season is going to be a major test of your acumen.

Let’s get ready.

1. Set Some Goals

Be they actual sales figures or visits in person or online, set up some count-able goals and stick with them. Measuring your rate of success is simply a lot easier than sort of “hoping for the best” in the abstract. Make sure they’re attainable and reach for them. Make all of your people, whether it’s your spouse or your employees; spell it out – on paper – and set a deadline.

2. Check Your Inventory

It’s a good time, now, to make sure you have enough of whatever you’re selling, even if it’s just gift certificates. If you’re selling from a bricks and mortar location, the October-November re-stockings can make a terrific visual and make your formally Spartan digs seem suddenly prosperous. For that matter, get some pictures up on the Internet. Be creative about what you’ve got, and if you’ve got a lot, it can actually make your prices seem cheaper. Don’t be shy about it. A couple of early internet shoppers can quickly turn into repeat customers – even before the holidays and if you’ve got what they want, and you’ve got it fast. Remember too, the time to ask for bulk discounts from you’re suppliers is NOW.

3. Re-Tool Your Staff

Again, even if it’s your spouse or your nephew, it’s a great time to add an online chat feature, or to train staff in better using your social channels. Start with all of that holiday stock and get employees to know what you’re communicating – sales, messages, and good wishes – now. What are those messages about? Reward your employees too. There is no better brand advocate than a happy employee with a schedule flexible enough to brag about where he or she is working – during business hours.

4. Figure Out Who You’re Selling To

Finally. You should have a good idea by this late in the game, but you’ll be surprised how many people we speak with who can’t sum up their customer’s profile in a sentence and a half. This is a big part of Local Search Marketing and Orange County’s unique multi-cultural demographic make it even more important for you. Is your customer reflected in your Google+ page and across your business presence online? While you’re at it, check that your listings are optimized with driving directions, store hours and phone numbers.

5. Plan Promotions Carefully

With the above in mind, get on top of all of your promotions, coupon codes and discounts NOW. Are you going to contact repeat customers? How? Why? With what? It’s a great time to cement the deal with newer customers and generosity (or perceived generosity) is well remembered and rewarded later on. Plan on promoting your sales and discounts well ahead of time with easy to understand dates and terms.  Get the pictures and graphics ready now. And remember how much you’re doing on social now. Make sure every addition to your site is well positioned through all of your other channels too.

6. Strategize!

Re-think how you’re going to reach existing and new customers. Gift cards are one good way. Give-aways and contests are too, so long as these new customers get a dose of who you are. Releasing valuable coupons through November is a very good way to keep your business in front of their eyes, when it comes time to go shopping. Mobile offers a whole bunch of ways to increasingly reach people at time sensitive moments and you better believe people are searching there. Retargeting Advertising is another terrific way to get ever more local customers too. Especially after their research is done. http://www.nettsolutions.com/orange-county-social-media-agency

7. Sell More Online

You’ve still got time to set something up online, whether it’s stand alone or designed just to increase business at your physical shop. For some business models e-commerce will never replace the bricks and mortar, but beauty salons bump profits with coupons only available through the site, and lots of Orange County contractors and installation specialists do wonders with online only promotions and appeals, even if they do end up sending a truck out later.

8. Celebrate and Promote Other Businesses in Your Area

They don’t have to be the main competition, but your customers are part of a community too. Seeing you as part of a community – especially during the holidays – is never a bad thing.  Push their promotions. Like their Facebook posts, and of course, the same goes for schools and organizations operating throughout your community. Don’t have enough online content? Share some of theirs. They’ll be grateful you did.

9. Ship With Confidence

Make sure customers, even in the store, know your deadlines. A flyer to remind them when the deadlines are is a terrific way to get them to visit your site, or your other channels. Make sure all the regulations and charges are explicitly, easy to understand and easy to find.

10. Administer!

This is the fun part for some of us. Be sure you’re not going to mess up orders with bad book keeping. If you’re introducing new software or tools, do it now because there won’t be time in November. Check your online shopping cart system, and if it needs replacing, do it now. Talk to your tech people about bandwidth limits and overloads and if you need to upgrade, you’re better off doing it now.

Remember, the holidays are a terrific season for all kinds of businesses, even in the off years.  Set your goals for this year and work towards them. Realize the goals of your neighbors and customers and help them to reach them too.

Image courtesy of: http://christmasstockimages.com/free/ideas_concepts/slides/online_christmas_shopping.htm