Yes, you heard us right, the holidays…The holiday season will be here before you know it and it’s a great time for businesses to maximize sales, honor their employees, reward their customers, and give back to the community. The key is to start planning early. If you haven’t already, think about how you can harness the end of the year festivities to boost your business. Here are some ideas:

For your customers: Create special sales or deals to help them with their holiday gift giving. Offer value-added incentives, such as gift wrapping or a free item with their purchase, to stimulate sales.

For your employees: Plan a year-end appreciation party. Offer an additional discount on top of their employee discount to ease their holiday gift spending.

For your vendors and close allies: Send a thoughtful holiday card expressing your appreciation for their support or deliver goodies to their offices.

For the community: Partner with a local nonprofit to receive a portion of your holiday sales or organize your staff to volunteer at a local soup kitchen.

These ideas are starting points. When you decide how to mark the year-end, consider what fits right with your type of business. For example, a wine shop could offer a special tasting and pricing on the day beaujoulais nouveau is released; a grocery store could provide its employees with a free roast to share with their families; and a movie theater may offer a free movie to foster children.

Whatever you choose to do, begin planning now. Remember that creating holiday cards, advertising, and other ideas take time to implement. So once you know what you’re going to do, create a timeline and follow it. Your end-of-the-year activities will make your most important publics take notice of and appreciate you even more, which will pay off well into the next year.

For more ideas, see our blog Public Relations: Holiday Style.

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