First Person: How Your Food Business Can Nourish Its Bottom Line Over the Holidays

by Sarah Katz, guest contributor

Sarah Katz is the Director of Content for Bolstr, a marketplace where emerging consumer, retail and manufacturing businesses can access growth capital from accredited investors. Learn more about Bolstr at

Sarah Katz

Sarah Katz

It may be hard to believe that we are less than two weeks until Thanksgiving. And that means the biggest shopping days of the year — Black Friday and Cyber Monday — are right around the corner.

The good news: The business consulting firm Deloitte predicts that holiday sales this year will increase between 4 percent and 4.5 percent over 2013, across both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce.

So opportunity awaits you and your food business, if you’re prepared to compete in the crowded holiday marketplace. If you want to have a successful holiday season, now’s the time to get started!

Whether it’s putting marketing dollars towards promoting your best holiday offer, or packaging a unique holiday option that will make it easy for consumers to gift your product, these tips can help this holiday season run smoothly.

Here are four ways to have jolly holiday sales:

1.  Holiday Promotions

Create a special holiday offer to connect with new customers and remain on the radar of current ones. Social media promotions, including Facebook local ads or Instagram giveaways, are great ways to get your brand in front of customers.

Offer a first-time discount, include a free gift or sample with a purchase to entice new consumers into your store, or consider offering free shipping to your online users. Additionally, think about holding a giveaway of your product or other prizes on your website or social media to increase exposure and social sharing.

Consumers are bombarded with advertising messages during the holidays, so make sure that you are offering them something of real value. Be selective about who you’re targeting and what marketing channels you are using. The holidays are not the time to test experimental marketing campaigns — stick with what you know works and you’ll see better results.

2. Package a Gift

Explore how you can turn your everyday products into special holiday gifts. For example, you could combine your most popular items into a “most-popular” package. Or consider creating packages that pair your products with holiday themes.

For example, if you’re a distillery or brewery, pair up your seasonal offerings with a special glass or tumbler that you can only get when you purchase the gift set. If you’re a coffee roaster, package your beans in an oversized mug. Or if you’re a confectioner, put together a set of your top-selling candies to make it easy for people to drop in and know they’re picking up a treat everyone’s sure to love.

3. Plan Ahead

Take a look at what has worked for you throughout the year and see if there’s a way to put a holiday spin on things. Did you have a great holiday season in 2013? Analyze what you did last year to gain insights into what to do — and what not to do — this year.

Take some time to do an audit of your store, both online and off. Make sure your website, social media pages and Yelp listings are accurate and up-to-date. Are you increasing or decreasing store hours? Verify that the correct information is displayed prominently so consumers aren’t disappointed when they try to stop by. Confirm that your store is stocked with enough inventory and that your equipment is working flawlessly to avoid any down time.

Determine your goals for the season. Is it to target new customers? Engage current ones? Boost brand awareness? Having specific goals for your holiday campaigns will help you measure your effectiveness, as well as help you know if you should be changing your tactics through the course of the season.

4. Monitor Cash Flow

It can be easy to increase spending over the holiday season before you even realize it. Marketing campaigns during this time are likely to cost more on average, due to the high volume of competition on popular platforms. You may need to add employees to handle additional customers or increased number of orders. Or you may need to add new equipment to help increase productivity during this busy time.

With all these additional expenses, it’s important to understand how they are affecting your bottom line. While the holidays are a great time to draw in new customers and increase revenue, be mindful of your customer acquisition costs. Consider exploring opportunities for growth funding, and learn what options are out there including revenue sharing, SBA loans, crowdfunding and more.

The holiday season is a busy — and stressful! — time for most business owners. Get ahead of the game and start your holiday planning now to avoid missing out on the opportunity.


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