Holiday cheer survival guide

The holiday season begins in about a month from now. Most larger retailers will be hanging out the decorations or at least dusting them off. Printers will be busy running of large batches of Christmas cards and catalogues. Seasonal ordering of festive themed products should be well under way.
Many smaller enterprises and retailers leave matters to the last minute. This is not a major problem, but to harness the festive cheer at a late date, a little work needs to be put in at the last minute. The last minute begins about now.
The first thing to decide is how to approach the season. The question of the religious aspect is often difficult. At its heart Christmas is a religious observance, so it is easy enough to justify a religious approach. However many want to celebrate the ‘festive season’ without the religious angle. The choice actually boils down to a question of belief and / or money, a sad state of affairs, but one that most enterprises have to contend with.
Once that choice is made, the language and messages can easily be tailored to reinforce or strip out the religious angle. The word ‘Christmas’ can be replaced with the term ‘festive season’, and messages can be found online that remove other overt religious references.
For almost all non-retail enterprises, it is a season of giving to clients. At this stage, customised gifts are almost impossible. However gifts can still be given with a little bit of cunning and a relatively small amount of budget. A small Christmas message can easily be printed and attached to a gift.
For a simple gift consider a small basket of treats, possibly a bottle of wine, decorated with a ribbon. You know it will be well used. It will also be a good way to have a last minute chat and review with key clients, suppliers and stakeholders.
At this stage, you should be aiming for delivery of gifts in early December before the festive season migration begins.
One of the overlooked possibilities lies in giving something to people who really need it. Christmas does not necessarily have to be a festival of consumption by people who have enough. Instead consider a donation to a charity and in lieu of the gift, send a message about the donation to clients, suppliers and stakeholders that you have made the donation on their behalf in lieu of the traditional gift. If possible, take a photo of the donation and insert it in the message. Send it as an email to individual clients rather than a bulk email.
If you are a retailer, encourage your customers to make donations at the time of their purchases as well. This will potentially link you to the charitable spirit of the season and create some residual loyalty.
If you have retail specials to drive footfall, consider inexpensive live reads, window posters and, if possible, mall media. Also consider inexpensive flyers handed out at the point of entry of retail areas.
In the age of the web and social media, there are plenty of low-cost opportunities for linking yourself to the visual aspects of Christmas.
Firstly it is easy enough to develop Christmas imagery for websites and post them with the relevant festive season greetings. The same applies to New Year. However make sure that messages do not age. As a rule have everything removed and the site reflecting business as usual by the 5th of January.
In terms of social media, particularly Facebook, Namibia’s largest social medium, develop a cover shot and post that to anchor the season. Use the opportunity to write a custom message and make sure to boost the post. Other than that, feel free to festoon your page with Christmas jokes and thoughts. Once again be aware that Christmas has a sell-by date and don’t keep the cover shot up too long.
If the prospect of these activities is uncomfortable, allow yourself to be guided by your staff. Christmas is a time of sharing and happiness and they may be more than willing to take the initiative.


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