How to not to worry about your competition this Christmas

Are you already panicking about Christmas? Worried your competition have got a head start on you, or that your own festive marketing plan isn’t up to scratch?

To help you relax about Christmas, marketing and PR specialist Samantha Crowe gives you five questions to ask yourself when the doubt starts to creep in.

A well-run business plans ahead for Christmas

Any retailer will tell you that there are points in the year where the balance sheet is punctuated by seasonal events. The top ones being Christmas, Easter, Valentines and Mother’s Day.

A well-run business will plan events in good time – Christmas is planned as soon as Easter ends, and Valentines Day is planned before Christmas arrives. It’s how you can guarantee the best stock, the perfect mix of products and give yourself the time to devise, test and refine your marketing plan.

It stands to reason that your competitors will be doing the same. You’ll see their plans emerge around the time you begin to launch yours. To start with you might pick up subtle clues that indicate what they want their best sellers to be, how they will price their products and their approach to attracting customers.

It’s at this point you could panic and question your plan. Have we chosen the right product mix? Are we too expensive, should we review our bundle offers? Is our marketing campaign strong enough? It’s easy to do. But if you hold on to logic rather than let emotion rule your head you’ll soon see it’s wasted energy.

Five questions to help you beat your worry this Christmas

To help you stop worrying about your own (or your competition’s) Christmas marketing strategy, here are five questions to ask yourself when the doubt kicks in:

1) Have I identified a plan that fits my unique business?

To write your plan you should have undertaken market research according to your business strategy and customer profile, and considered what you know about your customers and those you want to attract.

This will have helped you to pick a range, forecast the product volumes and predict the moves your competitors will make based on how they have behaved in the past. If you have prepared in this way then you have the ingredients for success. (Need more ideas? Read 10 free marketing ideas for small businesses here.)

2) Will my team commit to my plan?

This is the test of your leadership. So really you should ask, ‘do I believe in my plan’? If you believe in it, so will your team. If you don’t then don’t launch it. Conduct a review with expert help – it could be a specialist in your industry or it could be your sales team.

Never underestimate the knowledge of those who deal with your customers day-to-day, and therefore the ideas they will have that will make your plan sing. Involving them will help you win respect and commitment.

3) Am I focused on delivering the plan?

Strong leadership drives the things that make a difference. The more you allow yourself to become distracted by what other companies are doing the more your team will deviate from the plan and the greater the chance your plan will fail.

4) Have I given myself a head start?

A great plan incorporates elements that give trading a boost before it gets hectic. Use any nervous energy to tap into your loyal customers to give them previews or early offers that demonstrate how you will serve their needs when it’s time to buy special gifts. It’s a great opportunity to get feedback and refine the plan based on fact not worry.

5) What’s to say your competitors aren’t nervous about your plan?

Play on this – execute impeccably so they really do have something to worry about.

Use your competition to spur you on this Christmas!

Of course, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t keep an eye on what competitors are doing. But if you decide to change your plan based on something they do, make sure it’s based on genuine insight. Knee jerk reactions can do one of two things: create a ‘me too’ model which isn’t always reflective of your brand nor what the customer wants, or the constant change creates confusion for both customers and your team.

The most important thing to realise is that competition should spur you on to improve your game and channel your energy into making your plan happen, brilliantly, every time.

You can find out more about Samantha’s marketing and PR services on her website