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  • Writer's pictureJan Peterson

Decking The Halls Might Come Early This Year

Just when you've choked down the Thanksgiving turkey it's time to hang the wreaths, light the menorah, deck the halls, send the cards, wrap the gifts, make the holiday cookies, decorate the tree and get ready for family visits.

To say the least the holidays are exhausting for all of us and more so for florists, where product has a limited shelf life, customers are demanding, competition is fierce and holiday sales have a short window.

But this year our usual flurry of activity is likely to feel much different than years past. If COVID has taught us anything this year - it's taught us to slow down, appreciate what we have, be more flexible, think more creatively about our businesses and seek ways to survive with less.

However, with all the dismal news reports in the media, consumers are extending the season by decorating early this year. Customers are putting up holiday lights and trees before the turkey even gets cold. Consumers need and want to be cheered up this season, even if they can't spend as much as last year.

So how do you get a jump on the holiday season, still operate if things start to shut down and keep yourself afloat? Here are five things you can do today to engage customers this holiday season and help your sales.

1. Stay connected. Reach out to your customers to tell them you're still here and that you appreciate them and hope they are safe. Even if you aren't contacting customers to sell them anything, keeping customers engaged with you puts you at the top of their minds when they want to order for themselves and loved ones. In a world where IVR, and impersonal customer care are the norm, people are feeling the need for human contact, and one to one marketing can make a big difference.

2. Teach through technology. A recent study done by PR Newswire shows that cell phone and computer usage are up dramatically since the pandemic started. Texting, on-line shopping and social media usage have all exploded during the past few months and the trend of customers visiting websites and purchasing on-line is expected to continue as COVID cases rise. Now is the time to offer products though social media. You might consider hosting on-line tutorials teaching techniques for holiday decorating and providing customers with a "how to" kit delivered to their door. More folks are working from home and the DIY space is expected to expand - so don't miss this opportunity to educate customers and be their go-to source for decorating.

3. Be a virtual host. Do a virtual open house. Since all of us are working with limited customer contact, and we can't really have open houses or show customers what we have. Why not invite customers to a virtual tour of your shop on line. Have your co-workers help you film a short video tour of your store and show customers your work shop, products and what you're working on. You'll pique your customers interest and get them to know you better, in addition to helping them get into the spirit of the season.

4. Offer decorating services. If you have all the tools - product, time and man-power - offer customers outdoor, contact free decorating - hanging garlands, creating outdoor pots, hanging lights, etc. Customers might jump at the chance to take this off their plates, plus you can offer to do this for their loved ones as a cheerful way to celebrate the season.

5. Take it outside. Make the outside of your shop or studio a sight to behold. Although customers might not be coming in your store and you don't want a lot of customer contact, you can still "wow" them with an outdoor display and bring your product outside of the shop. An outdoor tent sale or outdoor product demonstration is an event you can promote and customers might appreciate being able to safely visit without coming into your shop.

"Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love"

Hamilton Wright Mabie

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