The COST of Christmas, and 21 ways to make it count!

A typical household in the UK spends over £2,500 each month. But in the run up to Christmas our spending habits change dramatically.

To begin with we buy a lot more! A typical household spends over £800 extra in December.

The increase in our spending reveals a lot about what we get up to around Christmas.

It won’t come as a surprise to learn that we spend a lot more on going out, eating food and drinking alcohol. We also of course spend money buying gifts for our family and friends.

How much more do we spend in December compared to a typical month?

  1. Food + 20%
  2. Alcohol +30%
  3. Gifts + 85%

How has our spending at Christmas changed over time?

The most popular Christmas presents from over the years are now seen as classics of their time: Rubik’s cubes, BMX bikes and Tamagotchis.

Others seem to be timeless. When the original Star Wars film was released more than 30 years ago, the Millennium Falcon cost around £20. Fast forward to The Rise of Skywalker in 2019 and the toy is still in the bestseller lists at around £75.

But the way we buy things is changing. The value of online shopping has nearly doubled over the past five years. It now accounts for £1 in every £6 we spend.

And new events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday mean we spend more in November too, particularly as many shops have moved from one-day to week-long events to tempt us to buy gifts earlier.

So, I’ve put together 21 Ideas to help you Dominate the Festive Season

In nearly every retail sector, the holidays are a huge boost to the year’s sales. But how do you stand out from the crowd when every business is fighting for consumers’ attention? Even if your NOT in the retail sector!

  1. Start promotion early (your already VERY late)

Some stores literally start putting up Christmas items for sale in July. That can be frustrating for people who feel pressure during the holidays. No one wants to feel that kind of pressure for half a year.

Think of ways your early holiday promotion can be helpful to the customer so that the holidays are less stressful. For example, you could make it easy for people to create “wish lists” or put things on layaway (an old practice that has made a bit of a comeback in some industries).

You could offer a service where you help them with products or services for their holiday parties, rewarding them for starting early but not forcing them to finalise specifics until closer to the date.

However, subtle in-store marketing is key; no one wants to see Santa next to Halloween decorations.

  1. Spread the love and promote other local businesses

Join up with other willing local businesses to promote each other’s sales and services. It might be as easy as tossing a few coupons or sales information in the customer’s shopping bag. Or, you might offer reduced prices or rewards when customers shop at participating businesses.

Even better, partner with a business whose product or service ties into what you offer. That provides a real service to your customer. For example, if you are a catering service, perhaps you could partner with a cleaning service and advertise it as helping customers with their Christmas parties before, during, and after.

  1. Reward your top customers

The holidays are a time to give gifts, and you can do the same for your most loyal customers (learn more about how to retain customers here). Offer them deeper sales and savings, extra perks, or even open the doors of your business outside of regular hours so they can have a personalised shopping session.

  1. Help word-of-mouth advertising along

If you have local websites or bloggers that talk about your industry, connect with them months before the holiday and see if you can partner with them. They could review your products, obviously, but it would be even better if you could make it a win for them (help them grow their readership and traffic).

For example, offer up a blog contest prize that can be redeemed in your shop. Bloggers have to comply with laws and inform their readers of reviews that they’ve been asked to give, but it is still a way to get a real person talking favourably about what you have to offer.

  1. In a digital world, paper stands out

The holiday season is a time when many people find the onslaught of promotional emails to be absolutely overwhelming. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday–all come with a wave of emails from every mailing list a person is on.

How do you get your promotion to stand out? How to you even communicate with customers at the holidays and get them to see it?

When everything is digital, the personal and physical object stands out. Send real holiday cards or postcards. Send actual coupons and gift cards. Nostalgia for printed photos and media is growing; tap into it.

  1. Create a shopping event

Whether you decided to make the event last through most of the holiday shopping season, or on special sale days, you can turn your store into a go-to location. Local musicians, mince pies, mulled wine –whatever you choose to do, make the act of coming to your store a reward. Have giveaways to reward those who come.

  1. Create kid-friendly events

Parents are always looking for events that they can take their kids to and hosting a free event of that nature at your shop is a great way to get parents in the door. Have colouring contests, photo booths, cookie decorating–whatever is appropriate for your location. Make it easy for parents to do some shopping while their kids are having holiday fun.

  1. Consider pet-friendly events

If your business is in an industry that would allow for it, create an event for pet owners. In 2018, pet owners spent almost £34.5 billion on their pets. For some, their pets are their kids. Consider an “best dressed dog” contest, or a “tackiest festive dog costume” contest. Give away dog treats with every purchase to anyone who comes in with a dog.

If you’re giving away prizes throughout the holiday season, make one geared for dog owners.

  1. Make your store friendly for the non-shopper

Create an area in your store where children can relax while parents’ shop. A book corner, with tables and toys, works great. Or, create an area where people who are tired of shopping but are with someone who isn’t can take a seat and relax. Offer holiday treats or punch.

  1. Capitalise on holiday traditions

There are many holiday traditions, and your marketing can capitalise on them. Instead of the “12 Days of Christmas”, you might have twelve days of sales. Depending on your industry and customer base, you will want to gear your promotions around the most attractive traditions for your audience.

  1. Help your customers make a memory

Bring Santa to your store and set up an area for kids to have their photo taken with him. Create a selfie area for shoppers. Tap into the “maker” movement and create an area where shoppers can make an ornament or holiday keepsake. Offer prizes for those who post photos of these activities to social media.

If you’re using themes for various sales and promotions, tie these memories into the themes.

  1. Give away tools that help customers

Offer your customers free promotional items that would be useful at during the holidays. You might have a planning guide or notepad printed to help people complete all of the holiday tasks of the season.

Perhaps you’ll give customers “letter to Santa” stationery and an envelope, already addressed and stamped, offering to put it in the outgoing mail, so their children can write Santa a letter and parents don’t have to fuss. Calendars are also useful but think outside the box and consider what item would be most attractive to your customer base.

This takes planning, ahead of the holiday season. Consider all of the stressors and challenges you face, and what kind of tool or giveaway could help. Get started months before so that when the holidays arrive, you have your items ready to go.

  1. Make customer referrals easy

Personal referrals are the best word-of-mouth advertising you can get. We trust our friends and families. Offer special discounts or a free product when a customer refers someone to your shop during the holidays. Incentives are key, here.

  1. Help out your local artists

Artists and crafters are trying to earn a living in your community. Consider helping them out by displaying their artwork or featuring it on some of your marketing materials (with permission and payment) with identifying artist information.

Promoting and offering the works of local artists and crafters can be a promotional point in and of itself, particularly for the buy local movement that continues to grow.

  1. Have a post-holiday event

Plan an event after the holidays where you thank your customers for supporting your business. Depending on how exclusive you want to be, the event could be a general invite, or for your best customers. Whether it’s a dinner at a local restaurant or an after-hours social, it’s a great way to show appreciation to customers outside of the sometimes-over-filled holiday season.

A party in January is a bit more memorable than one from the often-packed months of November and December.

  1. Give a portion of your sales to a local charity

Increasingly, customers want to spend in a way that makes a positive impact on the world. Choose a local charity or two, and let customers know that a percentage of the proceeds will be donated. Be sure to promote this in your regular advertising, and to let the charity know as well so that they can alert their own mailing lists.

  1. Make returns super easy, and be public about it

While it isn’t pleasant to think about, some of the holiday sales you make will result in people coming back to return their gift. Small businesses often think they can’t compete with Big stores because of their return policy, but the truth is that some of them actually make returns tricky for holiday shoppers.

Create a customer-friendly return policy, and begin advertising before the holiday season kicks in, as well as letting your customers know in-store and at purchase time. Making returns easy is its own kind of service, and you want to be sure you advertise it like any other.

  1. Spread the holiday cheer throughout the year

Consider having a holiday in July (or some other month). Promote it during the regular holiday season, and consider tie-ins. For example, you could create a punch card for regular holiday shopping that you reward during the off-holiday season.

  1. If you have a store window, use it

The art of window dressing is still an important one. No matter what kind of window or display area you have, you need to be making the most of it. This is not the time to “set it and forget it.” A shop whose window stays the same all year round, except for a strand of holiday lights in December, does not entice shoppers.

Show off your products and tell a story about your business through your display. Think of it as a further extension of the narrative you’ve wrapped your brand in. Connect it to themes and any social media or print marketing you already have running. Consider a contest that lets a winning customer design your window display in January.

Be sure to have a fresh window display up by mid-November and change it out several times during the holiday season.

  1. Pamper your customers

While it may not be appropriate for all small businesses, consider creating a “pampering station” where customers can get a quick massage, a manicure, or some other related service.

Not every customer wants to be overloaded with drinks and food, and this kind of approach meets the physical needs of weary shoppers. Partner with a local spa or salon and see what you can come up with that benefits everyone involved.

  1. Make shopping a fun game

Create an in-store scavenger hunt that leads customers through your store in search of listed items. Not only is it fun for customers (particularly if there are prizes or savings for anyone who finds everything on the list), but it helps show of your products better.

You might choose to do this every day during regular shopping hours or host a fun evening event and turn it into something larger. Perhaps you’ll have separate games for children and for adults, or partner with other businesses and expand the hunt to several stores. Make sure to share photos or video on social media and make it a local movement.

Whatever the case, people enjoy games and will come to a shop they might not have been to before just to participate.

But Jay I’m not in retail?

GREAT, then there is even MORE opportunity for you to stand out and be seen. Dr’s, Dentist, Physiotherapists, Lawyers, Accountants, and many other serviced based businesses only have to do a fraction of what retail shop front businesses have to do to stand out because EVERYBODY else uses it as a excuse to do nothing!

Be CREATIVE, and if you really are a Bah Humbug and can’t think of anything, go ask any 6,7 or 8 year old what a cool Christmas might look like and be amazed by their ingenuity!

In summary, the trick to promotion during the holiday season is to be personal and customer centric. Promotions that help you build a relationship with your customers are the best way to stand out from the crowd.

Wishing you and ALL you serve a Cool Yule!


I’d LOVE to hear your feedback, so whilst you are here, please drop me a comment below.

And, whilst your doing that, simply click on the social media links and share this across your own network as well and help somebody else benefit from the content also 🙂

FAILURE is the new SUCCESS

FAILURE is the new SUCCESS

Whilst there is an abundance of information available on SUPER SUCCESSFUL businesses, with articles, news feeds, books, magazines, podcasts all brimming with news of the next ‘over night success’, I’ve spent the last 3.5 years studying businesses that fail!

I’m not referring to the local corner shop or yet another car valeting company that is no more, I’m talking about brands which used to dominate the British High street, but are no more! (Companies like, Toys r Us, Woolworth, Comet) you see, I learnt a long time ago, you will always learn far more from failing that you ever will from winning!

Think about that for a second! 

When was the last time everything was going exceptionally well, the enquiries were flooding in and you were struggling to keep up with demand, did you STOP and spend time analysing WHY it was happening? You simply don’t. You get on with servicing the current demand, enjoy the moment and celebrate accordingly.

No, it’s only when things don’t go as well as we had planned do we stop and begin to frantically ask WHY?

So what can we learn from studying failure? What lessons can be gleaned and used to prevent the same fate be falling ourselves, that we may learn sufficiently that the opposite may be the result?

LOTS.

You see, whilst there is far fewer people happy to share with you the failure within their business, the information is harder to come by and often more scattered causing us to have to really dig around to pull the information together. SO MUCH information can be learned if only we ever thought to look.

Over the past 3-4 years I’ve studied almost 150 high street brands of yesteryear to learn what caused their downfall And the results were SHOCKING!

Whilst there were a hundred and one reasons (otherwise known as excuses) given as why the company had failed, it boiled down to 2 fundamental flaws which ultimately determined they were destined to fail!

From this I began working on what actions could, should they have taken to prevent this, and remain the high street brands we all knew and loved.  It’s taken me well over a year to compile the results sufficiently to formulate a program to which business owners can follow to mitigate the same fate which has resulted in launching our #ADDAZERO Business Challenge.

One element which fundamentally caused businesses to fail was where the emphasis was placed between People, Systems and Processes!

The other element can be identified by acknowledging EVERY business can be segmented into 8 parts.  It is of fundamental importance that every business owner acknowledges each of these 8 parts and the relationship each has each other.  More than 65% business failures could be identified as a failure to acknowledge the impact change either within or impacting one part of the business had on the other parts.  The moment the equilibrium was upset, a silo mentality could soon be observed, where parts not affected failed to amend accordingly to compensate for the change, ultimately resulting in an unsustainable business model and eventual failure.

Our #ADDAZERO Business Challenge has been devised to aid business owners in 3 ways:

  1. Ensure the business has a stable foundation to prevent cracks from appearing as the business moves from a growth to SCALE business plan.
  2. Identify the additional requirements on which to build a SCALE business model without affecting the foundations.
  3. Identify the final additional resources required should the business owner wish to replicate, franchise or exit the business.

What I’ve also found is that whilst ALL these aspects are required, the reluctance of business owners of either established or sizeable businesses to return to STEP 1 even if only to ensure they have everything crossed off, and their desire to move to parts 2 and 3 prior to fully checking and implementing part 1, resulting in poor results and a volatile growth plan!

This is by no means a ‘quick fix, overnight success story’ but it does ensure you have a stable business capable of significant and sustainable growth without risk of going or growing broke, and with the stability to be unaffected by change by having the flexibility within both people, systems and processes to ‘ride any storm’ and come out the other side victorious.

To determine if your ready to begin the #ADDAZERO Business Challenge, simply click below to access our e-book which you will require to complete and return in order to establish if you and your business are ready to #ADDAZERO!

The purpose of business

I am constantly amazed how some business owners fail to prioritise making money…

After all, that is the ultimate purpose of a business (whether you want to dress it up with ‘to provide for your family’ or ‘to provide employment to others’ or whatever else) – the ultimate purpose of EVERY business is to provide value to customers and be financially rewarded for it.

So why do so many business owners priorities non-money making tasks?

I thought about this after receiving a response from a customer recently;

One of our clients is in the technology service space, and we have helped them craft an email recently explaining that due to some costs increasing they would have to increase their prices by 5% in the near future.

We helped them craft a really great email explaining that they hadn’t increased their prices in some time, but due to circumstances beyond their control, they needed to pass on this small increase (which amounted to less than £5 per month for the average customer and no more than £8.50 to ALL customers).

However, they received back an email saying:

“I am very surprised that you are passing on your increased cost of doing business to those of us running small businesses who are also facing the challenges of managing inflation, cost of living, workplace pensions and GDPR compliance.”

We were both a little shocked, to say the least.

Does this mean that they are absorbing any increasing business costs to the detriment of their own profit and finances? How long can any business keep doing that and maintain a high level of service?

How long can you squeeze your margins without it impacting heavily?…

I recently had a PRICE versus VALUE conversation with two other new(ish) clients, and was shocked to hear familiar stories!

One new client admitted that they hadn’t put their prices up for some of their longest standing clients in nearly four years! AND offered them both an EARLY SETTLEMENT discount AND sent them ‘SPECIAL OFFERS’ with up to 20% OFF their current prices (if they booked ‘packages’ at any one time!)

Are you serious?…

In December 2017, The government admitted households are feeling the pain from rising inflation after the cost of living rose to a near six-year high of 3.1% in November.

To put that in REAL terms:

  • The average family food shop has risen by 4.1% in the past 12 months
  • Transport costs have risen by 4.5% in the same period
  • and clothing and footwear has risen by a little over 3%

If your profit margin was say 30%, based on the current TRUE RATE OF INFLATION you would need to increase sales by 15% just to stay still if your now DISCOUNTING existing clients by not charging them at least the true cost YOU are incurring to remain in business and able to provide ANY product/service!

The final example in this blog is of another recent enquiry we received from another prospective client, that has been running their product based business, by buying in parts, assembling them and then selling it as a finished product by simply adding 30% to the invoice received for the parts they had purchased!

We went through what I thought was a rather simple exercise of looking at Fixed and Variable Costs! (Fixed costs often include rent, buildings, machinery, etc. Variable costs are costs that vary with output and tend to include wages, utilities, materials used in production, etc) After working through their FIXED and VARIABLE Costs, we worked out for the past 21 months (since he had started trading) they had been selling their most popular product…at a loss of £4.07 per sale!

I highly suggest you increase your prices ASAP and not fall into this trap. Every year inflation means the money you charge is worthless. And with the current cost of employing and compliance increasing, you will be earning less if you don’t compensate for your revenue model.

It just makes GOOD business sense 🙂

Drop me an email if you’d like to receive a copy of our Profit/Loss spreadsheet showing you HOW INCREASING and DECREASING your prices ACTUALLY affect the profitability of your business!

 

8 Essentials to SCALE, Podcast

I’m a huge advocate for sharing the real essentials with other business owners to help and empower them achieve their Big Fat Hairy Audacious Goals!

One of the ways I do this is agree to be interviewed by podcasters, YouTubers, and others with a client base of business owners.  Here, I was interviewed by one of our existing Explorer Mastermind clients – Amanda Daniels from Koogar Integrated Marketing.

What I learnt from an hour with Rob Moore

His name might not be as familiar to you as Steve Jobbs or Richard Branson, but when I tell you this guy is a triple best-selling published author,public speaker,entrepreneur,multi-million pound Property Investor & businessman, and all by the age of 30! you might wonder WHY his name isn’t in your speed dial?

Rob was another of the Keynote speakers alongside Lord Sugar at the Business Empires Conference I recently attended, and I must say he was on the money – Literally!

You see, his latest book is entitled MONEY with a sub-heading Know more, earn more, give more.  The hour was a fascinating look at people ‘s attitude and knowledge of both money and currency, and clearly demonstrated how the rich get richer at the expense of everyone else getting poorer!

If you always do, what you’ve always done;
You’ll always have, what you have already.

We all KNOW the phrase, yet how many of us apply something DIFFERENT to our perspective on money in order to generate a different result?

A study was done a number of years ago now, and looked at if all wealth and debt were shared equally between every legal occupant of the UK.  We are a rich and prosperous country and (at the time) deemed every person would have £3,004 to their name!

However it went on to show how, within just one year, those who are currently rich would be rich again, and those who are currently poor, be poor again!  You see, despite removing peoples wealth or poverty, we have failed to re-educate people on the value and use of money.

The rich know how to MAKE money whilst the poor know only how to spend it! The book concluded, and whilst an incredibly sad fact its also the truth.

Money, wealth, leverage was and is not taught throughout our education system.  I was taught how to write a cheque and open a bank account, but never the value of or how to MAKE money!  We were taught how to comply with a system that depends on us being dependant on it!  Financial freedom changes the way we play the game – FOREVER, and it starts by learning the true value of money and how to master it.

Anthony Robbins book Money Mastery is another perfect example of how to learn the true value of cash and how to make it work for you rather than you work for it!

I’m spending 2 days with Rob soon at one of his Money Mastery Masterclass events! I’ll keep you posted!

If you’d like to know more about Money, Leverage and how to re-write the rules, why not request a complimentary success strategy coaching call.  I’d be only too pleased to help you learn how to become mortgage free and financially independent!

Are you ready to SCALE?

New Versus Old, the 8 Fundamentals to sustainable scale!

Whilst the traditional model of forming and growing a business still exists, it has to be recognised that the birth of the internet, social media and electronic payment options has enabled a new form of business to emerge.

One that is faster, slicker, more profitable, less time consuming and requires far less resource to enable an extortionate amount of money to be made!

However, in BOTH models there are still far too many either going broke or GROWING broke!  and that’s simply because there are 8 fundamental lessons that have to be learned and considered in order to create a SUSTAINABLE business that can scale!

Here at My TrueNORTH we help business owners from both the old and new to ADD A ZERO to both their turnover and personal disposable income!

Vision, Values, Purpose, Mission

You need to have clarification on exactly what you want the business to achieve, what is SUCCESS?  You also need to have a clear clarity of the values you and your business wish to be known for.  It’s far more important these days than ever before to have a clear purpose, and then to write a mission statement which supports all of these, to which you run your business.

Mindset & Motivation

This is often the biggest hurdle to scaling any business!  The lack of clarity in the mindset of the owner, and sufficient motivation to implement and adhere to the plan in order to do what is required to achieve the goals you have set yourself.

Strategy & Structure

A business strategy should only be considered once the mission is clear, therefore it can be determined HOW you’re going to achieve it.  The structure of the business will support the strategy to achieve the mission.

Marketing

Clarity on WHO is your TARGET market is often overlooked in favour of selling to anyone, yet this is completely the wrong strategy if you wish to SCALE.

Money and Margins

It’s just as easy to GROW broke as it is to GO broke. Too many people fail to understand running ANY business is often based on one dashboard which carefully and in real time monitors the NUMBERS in the business. Get it right and you can fly, get it wrong and your heading for unemployment.

Sales and Negotiation

Being able to convert enquiries and how to negotiate the best deal for both you and the client is key to ensuring no money is left on the table.

Delivery and Customer Service

So many people concentrate on continually winning new clients, as opposed to spending more time and effort looking after their current clients, which is actually key to SCALE!

Team

Getting the right team in place early is another key to scale.  Yet to many business owners still get caught out with the ‘they can’t do it as well as me’ misconception!

Whilst there are a gzillion books out there regarding BUSINESS SUCCESS, we opted to adopt a slightly different viewpoint, and have studied businesses that FAIL!  You see, there is SO much more you can learn from a business that has previously been doing well and making good progress, that subsequently failed, than there is from one which continues to make great progress.  I love the quote:

EVERYONE should make MANY mistakes. However only a fool makes the same one twice!

As it clearly shows we have MUCH to learn from the mistakes people make, in order NOT to make the sames ones again!  We’ve therefore studies well over 100 businesses that had made a name for themselves, only for SOMETHING to happen, resulting in failure.  From this we have learnt the fundamental mistakes made by SO MANY businesses, and devised a method to help you avoid them!

Want some help to understand more about how you and your business stack up against this 8 segment scale process?  Email Iwantto@ADDAZERO.co.uk to ask about our FREE SCALE AUDIT