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holiday planning

Stress-Free Holiday Selling: The Mega-Ultimate Planning & Marketing Strategy Guide

Believe it or not, Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away and we know you have enough on your plate as a handmade seller, even before the holiday madness starts. The little elves over at MadeFreshly want to make your holiday selling season jollier and smoother so they made this free, downloadable–even printable “Holiday Sales Guide”.


This holiday planning guide will leave you knowing how to:
  • Create promotional material that converts
  • Promote your sale across all platforms (before and during sale)
  • Time your offers (with day-by-day example sale templates)
  • Be customer service ready
This guide also includes:
    • Holiday Planning Checklist for marketing strategy
    • Promotional Content Calendar

Download your Free Holiday Planning Checklist and Promotional Content Calendar Now! 

Let our tried and true tips make this holiday time less stressful and more organized…all you have to do is read and apply what you’ve learned. Afterward, you’ll even save yourself enough time to leave Santa and his reindeer some cookies and carrots…or crafts. Here are the key strategies laid out simply in MadeFreshly’s Mega-Ultimate Holiday Planning and Marketing Strategy Guide. The full article contains all of our useful advice but if you’re busy crafting and short on time, below is the condensed version of our sales guide. Read ahead to get ahead because your holiday selling season can’t afford to miss any tip here.

Before The Sale Be proactive, not reactive when it comes to preparing for the holiday sales season. Choose the deal you’re going to offer

  1. Define your profit margin
  2. Decide how much you can afford to discount

    *Bonus tip: This is a great time to get rid of excess inventory! 02_discounts1 Marketing Channels to Promote Your Sale Your promotional material or creative has two main goals:

  1. Lay out all sales information clearly
  2. Create a sense of urgency and desire

Focus on your strengths and make sure your promotional material is consistent and creative.

Channels to promote your deals:

Homepages/landing banners: Include promotional material on your own website so customers know there is consistency between internal and external marketing.

Social media platforms: Promote on any and all social media sites to get the most eyes possible checkin’ out your one-of-a-kind deals.

Send out an email newsletter: Copyblogger lays out 37 tips for writing emails that actually get opened and read. Check out MailChimp too and have your newsletter emails automatically distributed.

Promotional blog posts: Spark customers’ interests with a blog post showing the usefulness of your products and then mention you’re having an awesome sale coming up. Remember, customers want to know your product can solve a problem and make their life easier!

How to Create the Right Copy and Images for Your Promotion

When writing your copy:
  • Include a discount code
  • Be clear and specific
  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Include a link with a Call-to-Action

    Here’s a great example of a promotional image with copy included: 07_SimpleBoldEnticing1 Make sure: -The image is clear and eye-catching -You include text, but not too much -Has a Call-to-Action: “Shop Now” -The image is the right size for each platform Here’s a cheat sheet for social media image sizes: social-media-image-size-cheat-sheet Part of the excitement of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping is because of the limited time deals. Make sure you stress that element of “limited time” in your creative.

If your deal is for a limited time, shoppers won’t want to miss so make sure you stress the urgency of buying NOW.


“Black Friday Sale!”

75% OFF FROM 10:00AM – 12:00PM

65% OFF FROM 12:00PM – 3:00PM

50% OFF FROM 3:00PM – 10:00PM

The Most Important Part of Your Promotional Creative That You Probably Don’t Know About

If you don’t get anything else out of this section, make sure you remember to carry your creative consistently throughout the entire promotional process.

How’s that for alliteration? Consistently Carry Creative

Customers go through a 5-step process when deciding to take the final purchase plunge. Your consistent copy needs to meet them at every step and encourage them they are making the right choice. decision-making How to Time Your Holiday Deals-From Beginning to End

Not sure what deals to give on which days, or how to market them to get the most out of your sales? Not to worry, here are example sale templates you can use to guide your sales. Remember, your deals could be slightly different depending on your profit margin!

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale 09_BlackFriCyberMon1 Right upfront, your best holiday deals should be especially focused on Black Friday and Cyber Monday because that’s when you’re going to generate the most money. But whatever you do, don’t offer the same deal every day…you want to lead customers with a sense of…wait for it…URGENCY!

Black Friday

Marketing: Again, urgency with your ads and deals are key. “60% OFF or BUY 1 GET 1 FREE” are always great to use.

Your second best deals, after Cyber Monday, should be marketed today so make ‘em worth the virtual trip to your store!

marketing01_blackfriday1 Saturday

Marketing: You know what I’m going to say…urgency. Let your customers know today’s deal won’t be as good as tomorrow’s so they need take advantage of today.

“25% OFF” is a solid deal…it’s less off than Black Friday but more discounted than Sunday. marketing02_sat1 Sunday

Marketing: Get your customers excited for Cyber Monday with some well-thought out promotional creative. No one likes a tease…but a little something to look forward to never hurt!

FREE SHIPPING ALL DAY goes a long way. marketing03_sun1 Cyber Monday

Marketing: Today is the day to finally let it all go. Let loose and offer your best deal of the season. Be clear and direct…you want customers to understand exactly what and how great your deal is.

“70% OFF TODAY ONLY” is an example. marketing04_mon1 Tuesday

Marketing: Include one last deal that rounds up all of the customers who weren’t able to catch your Friday through Monday deals–20% OFF gives them a chance to still save but not get the same bargain as the weekend shoppers. marketing05_tue1Christmas Sale

A FREE SHIPPING deal is perfect for your ecommerce shoppers who missed the Black Friday/Cyber Monday craze.

      • Decide your cut-off date on offering free shipping so your customers can receive their gifts in time for Christmas.

10_Free-shipping1 New Year’s Sale

People celebrate the new year like it’s a holiday, so why not ring ‘em in with a deal? 10%-20% OFF should be enough to get them to your store. marketing06_ny1Be Ready For Questions

People always have questions so be ready to happily answer. That little extra customer service turns first time customers, into loyal, repeat ones! Common questions:

  • How long will my product take to ship?
  • Will it ship internationally?
  • What’s your return policy?

Get Planning Now for a Stress-Free Holiday Season!

I know after reading these tips you’re eager to know more…and there is more! Download our Promotional Content Calendar here that will help you lay out your marketing plan for November and December. All you have to do is cut and paste your copy and images. Start planning now and you’ll be totally prepared for the holiday craziness that is about to ensue! Get even more detailed marketing strategy in the full article here: The Mega-Ultimate Holiday Planning and Marketing Strategy Guide (With Snowflakes On Top).


This is a guest post from Rachel at MadeFreshly: Rachel is the resident Content Fairy at MadeFreshly, the ecommerce platform that makes your passion pay off. Click here to get her actionable tips and inspiration for entrepreneurs every week!

Holiday Countdown: 30 Tips to Boost Online Sales and End 2013 with a Bang

glitterlinerHoliday Glitter Envelopes from Pink Champagne Paper Co.

In just one month, shoppers will be putting away their credit cards and the silly season will be over for another year. Many big retailers and shop owners will be expecting 40% of their entire 2013 sales to be happening over the next four-and-a-half weeks. Even if you’re a small independent retailer or handmade seller, there’s no getting away from the fact we’re coming up to THE most important (and wonderful!) time of the year.

So would you like to end 2013 with a BANG and pick up as many customers and sales as you can? If so, here are 30 Holiday promotion ideas you can use to turn browser into buyers before the year ends.

  1. Read though your FAQ and make sure it answers all Christmas-related queries (Delivery? Returns? Gift wrap? Turn-around times?)
  2. Selling on Etsy? Use these tips from Etsysian Ballyhoo to make the most of Black Friday weekend
  3. Take part in the Oh My! Handmade Goodness Handmade Gift Guide Party
  4. Offer customers a voucher to spend in January if they spend over x amount in December 
  5. Run a flash sale on Facebook 
  6. Offer free gift wrap on orders over x amount 
  7. Offer customers help choosing the perfect gift from your shop
  8. Offer express shipping for last-minute shoppers 
  9. Put your last order dates for Christmas up on your website (and in an email) 
  10. Extend your refunds period to cover Christmas gift purchases 
  11. Give your homepage images a seasonal make-over using 
  12. Buy (or make!) Christmas cards for your top customers and say thanks for their support this year 
  13. Create a “stocking stuffers” category with gifts under $20 
  14. Invite customers to pin their most-wanted items from your shop to their wish-list boards on Pinterest
  15. Run a give-away on your blog – ask readers to leave a comment saying which gift they’d like to win from your shop and why
  16. Team up with a complementary (but not competing) retailer and run a cross-promotion 
  17. Hold a pinning party on Pinterest and ask fans to pin their favourite gifts from your shop
  18. Send a newsletter to your mailing list highlighting your top gift ideas 
  19. Add Gift Vouchers to your shop (and let people know about it)
  20. Run a VIP shopping evening – share a discount code with your mailing list and post behind-the-scenes photos on your Facebook page (silly hats optional) 
  21. Run an ad in your local holiday gift guide 
  22. Bundle up! Create a gift set out of three separate items in your shop (everyone loves a gift set) 
  23. Offer to include a hand-written gift card with orders (charge extra for this)
  24. Offer a free, low value gift with purchases over x amount
  25. Don’t wait until the New Year! If you’ve got stock to shift, run a pre-Christmas sale 
  26. Go through your product descriptions and make sure you’re including gift-focused keywords (use the Google Keyword Planner to help)
  27. Add Christmas gift product categories to your shop 
  28. Make sure you’re highlighting Christmas gifts on your home page
  29. Remember to do your own Christmas shopping 
  30. Feed the cat / dog / husband / kids 


Claire Hughes — TFI Monday

Rebel-raiser, online retail & marketing geek – championing handmade and independent retail in the UK. Founder of TFI Monday! and co-founder of Handmade Horizons.

Handmade Horizons: Get Your Online Shop Ready for Christmas

holidaystickersHoliday Sticker Label Sheets from Ruff House Art

I know it is early but are you ready for the upcoming holiday season? I was catching up with our contributor Claire Hughes the other day to see what she has been up to lately and discovered that she has been busy with some amazing projects! She has a new course starting next week over at Handmade Horizons that is ready to get you in shape for the holidays! Here is what you need to know:

–  4 week course called “Get Your Online Shop Ready for Christmas”

– It starts next Wednesday September 18th at 8pm GMT (12 noon PCT)

– Format is a one hour webinar each week with Polly and Claire, with fun sheets and checklists to complete in-between

– It’s a practical course where students will be encouraged to make changes to their website or marketplace shop, and get it rocking in time to take advantage of Christmas sales

– Lots of opportunities for feedback and to ask questions on the calls

– Price is £50 (about $78 USD)

They are giving away a place on the course & a “Borrow Our Brains” strategy and advice session for handmade sellers (worth £149) in our competition, which ends at midnight GMT on Sunday. The URL to enter is here:

Learn more about what the course covers and whether or not it is the right fit for you here: Get Your Online Shop Ready For Christmas. Feel free to leave any questions or comments for Claire here!

How to Keep $$$$ Flowing Through 2013

New Year Cards from Ashley Pahl 

Right about now, you’re focused on the holidays.  You’re concerned with having enough inventory and energy to get through the holidays, and there isn’t a whole lot of time left for worrying about 2013.  The thing is, January follows December, and your store could look be utterly abandoned and penniless if you don’t plan ahead.

To prevent tumbleweed from taking over your online storefront come 2013, follow these simple steps while creating your holiday marketing materials.

Include a killer coupon with each purchase.

This is a great way to encourage repeat business, as the coupon is only given to people who are already buying from you.  By creating a clear and specific offer that is only valid during the month of January, you’ll keep traffic and income flowing to your storefront.

For example:

– 30% off a category of items (all knitwear, all jewelry, all earrings, all Harry-Potter-themed items)

– 50% off all holiday items

– $x off customization of a product

– $xx off a custom order of any kind

If coupons aren’t your thing, create a fantastic bonus with each purchase made in January.

Slip a postcard outlining bonus details and dates into each order you ship between now and December 31st.

If you’ve got extra scarves lying around and want to sell more mitten and scarf sets — the easiest solution is to make the scarf a bonus for buying a pair of mittens.  Likewise, if you’re selling custom cards for the holidays, encourage the purchase of birthday and anniversary cards with a ‘buy 3, get 1 free’ January campaign.

If it’s services you offer, a 15-minute bonus for anyone booking an hourly consultation or session can work wonders for filling your calendar.

Tease your clients with a new product or service.

If you don’t want to offer coupons or bonuses, tease your clients with hints about what’s to come!  Launch a new product or service in January to garner traffic, build buzz, and keep your clients interested in your shop after the holidays have passed.  A quick postcard designed to pique curiosity can be stuffed into all your holiday orders, and will be working to keep your peeps excited about your shop with minimal effort.

Remember: it’s easier to worry about January right now than it is to panic when the new year hits!  The simple actions outlined here can work wonders for your cashflow in the coming year.

Kristen Kalp — Brand Camp

Kristen Kalp is a (ghost)writer who believes people should have fun being in business.  She blogs at Brand Camp for like-minded folks.

Gift Shipping This Holiday? 12 Things Your Customers Will Want To Know Before They Buy

The holidays are the biggest gift giving time of the year. Offering gift wrap and gift shipping is a service your customers will love and may increase your sales. Questions will always come up about gift shipping. You need to be prepared and have these answers ready now, before the busy season begins.

In my 10+ years of holiday gift shipping my fresh wreaths, I have been asked many questions on gift shipping.

Here are the 12 questions that I hear over and over again and suggest you find the answers to for your business.

Holiday Gift Giving Q & A (more…)