Don't Let Amazon's Reindeer Run Over Your Q4 Revenue

By Crystal Wilson


It is no secret that this year has been a challenge for small businesses. Leaders have had to step into their confidence and influence in order to keep their teams and businesses in operation.   Those who have been willing and able to pivot, be creative, and take action are likely those who have made it, however shakily, to this point.

As we move into the fall, while it may seem early, it is hard to ignore the looming question; What will the holidays look like? Will they bring the same stream of revenue many industries have counted on in years past?  How can small businesses compete with the big businesses who have ease, convenience, and cost (no matter the cost) in spades?  


By thinking outside the box and getting to the heart of the matter. 


As I have thought about what this holiday season may mean for retailers (and giftable service providers) I’ve actually found surprising parallels between what may prove effective for business sustainabilty, and the more urgently upcoming halloween festivities. A bit of an odd comparison perhaps, but stick with me for a minute. 



hocus pocus



Since it’s unlikely that Halloween this year will be able to look the same as it has in the recent past, I shifted into Plan B mode about a month ago.  I considered what the most crucial aspects of the season are for our family, and realized they are all about experience, and frequently that experience revolves around aniticipation, ambiance, and emotion.  I want to feel the darkness of the season and the crispness of the fall air around me.  I want to hear the crunch of leaves and feel pin pricks on my skin from the spooky stories being shared.  I want to laugh at Hocus Pocus, and see children use the fullness of their imaginations to become “mythical” creatures, superheroes and legends. 


So, our family plans for Halloween 2020 are centered around those emotion and sense based components that have created what we experience as Halloween in the past.  We are curating a season for ourselves that, although different, should still provide the same gratification and nostalgia we have come to expect.  This looks like a series of spooky movie nights, a haunted forest, putting more energy into our home decorations, and themed cooking, among other things.  


So what does this have to do with the holiday season?  A lot.  Based on the current situation, there will be no bustling shopping malls, no parades, no photos with Santa, no fancy banquet hall parties, no house full of guests… the memories and emotions associated with these traditional components are the ones your customers may be missing (or anticipating missing) and eager to experience.   That is where you and your small business come in.  


Based on your product / service / offering - where can you authentically enter in and recreate the emotions and sensations your target market will be craving?  Where can you join them and inspire the creation of a new covid-safe tradition that invokes the same sensations as the old one it’s replacing? Maybe that looks like extra-special packaging or curb-side pickups that are delivered to your customer’s vehicle in song and costume. Maybe you invite your community to live stream a musical performance from your space or include a holiday card from your staff with each purchase. What out-of-the-box ideas can you and your community of business leaders come up with to give the people what they want?   

This might seem like a big, daunting task - and it could be!  But if you’ve made it through this year intact, you have effectively proven that big, daunting tasks are no match for you! Breaking this down into smaller bits is likely an effective strategy, and if you start now, you’ve got time to do it well. 


Start with this one task: Talk to your target market; loyal clients and customers, and those you’d like to see hold that title.  Ask them what they are thinking about, what they are anticipating for the 2020 holiday season, how you can help them create the experience they are hoping for.  “The big guys” will be continuing on with business as usual for the most part, but you and your small business have the benefit of relationship and community - dive into it and use it to build your ideal holiday season along with your clients and customers.