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Here’s how SMEs are preparing to sleigh Christmas 

New research by VistaPrint, the leading design and marketing partner to  Australian small businesses, today reveals how SMBs are preparing to conquer the festive season.  

One in three (36%) of SMB owners reveal they typically generate between 11-20% of their annual  revenue during November and December, in the lead up to Christmas. In 2022, more than half of SMBs  (55%) saw between a 10% and 25% increase in revenue compared to the regular trading period. This  success doesn’t come without its challenges though – far from it in fact.  

In 2022, 83% of SMB owners experienced challenges over the holiday period, and more than one in  three (37%) SMB owners felt disorganised or unprepared. The top challenges SMBs experienced included  managing financial pressures (25%), inflation (25%), juggling personal life (24%) and keeping up with  customer demand (24%). Increased staff costs (19%), supply chain delays (17%), increased competition  (15%) and getting marketing right (14%) were also cited as challenges. Gen-Z SMB owners wore an  increased burden compared to other generations, as most (97%) reported challenges, especially in  managing financial pressures and expenses (29%).  

The sentiment this Christmas 

Now in 2023 – with an array of challenging events happening both on our shores and overseas, the year  has gotten away from many – and suddenly we are heading into the festive season again. This time, one  third of SMBs (33%) are feeling optimistic, 31% feel prepared, 30% feel confident, 25% even feel excited.  However, 1 in 5 (19%) still feel uncertain, and many SMB owners describe themselves as nervous (17%),  apprehensive (17%) and overwhelmed (15%). 

It’s perhaps no surprise that businesses that have been in practice for less than two years find  themselves particularly apprehensive (32%), while larger SMBs (11+ employees) are more optimistic,  two fifths of them (42%) demonstrating high levels of preparedness vs businesses with 2-10 employees  at just 23%. 

As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. However, challenges during such a busy time are only  normal. This year, 27% of SMB owners are expecting to have challenges meeting customer expectations  for quick service, face increased competition in the industry (25%), and staff and hiring issues (20%) – to  name a few. Managing increased customer volume (19%), stock shortages (18%), inventory management  (14%) are also causing concern for SMB owners this year.  

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail 

To manage the challenges that come along with a busy holiday period, 85% of SMB owners are looking  ahead and implementing strategies to manage increased customer volume including adjusting operating  hours (30%), stocking up (26%), hiring extra staff (22%) and prioritising certain products and services  (21%). However, the top strategy SMBs are employing to survive the holiday season is taking time out for  moments of self-care (30%), followed by booking themselves a post-Christmas holiday so they have something to look forward to (22%).  

Making the most of the madness  

It goes without saying that as a huge revenue booster for SMBs, serious attention must be paid to  making the most of this time and luckily, SMB owners are open to many different tactics. 1 in 5 SMB  businesses (20%) are planning promotions, offers and incentives like free shipping or cash back to attract  customers, increasing social media activity (19%) and offering longer opening hours (19%).  

A whopping 68% are ramping up marketing activity to promote their businesses during this time – leaning on a mix of traditional advertising and digital tools to get their name out there. Over a third (35%) are embracing social media advertising, 1 in 4 are leveraging email marketing, and  22% are investing in online/digital paid advertising.  

Additionally, 14% of Australian SMB owners intend to pursue traditional print advertising in 2023, while  12% are eager to explore influencer marketing, demonstrating the growing prominence of digital and  unconventional marketing approaches during one of the year’s busiest periods. Nearly a quarter of SMB  owners plan to produce promotional materials and merchandise for holiday marketing, with 44%  focusing on materials like flyers, posters, brochures, magnets, postcards, and loyalty cards.  

Linda McDonald VistaPrint’s Marketing Director & SMB Expert, commented on the Holiday Report  Findings “The results paint a vivid picture of the (sometimes chaotic) landscape that small and medium sized businesses face as they prepare for the festive and summer holiday season. The diversity in  experiences and approaches highlight the need for tailored strategies to navigate the unique challenges  that Christmas brings – focusing on the customer, early planning, finances and marketing support cannot  be underestimated and can determine the success and future of a business.” 

VistaPrint offers a comprehensive suite of products and services tailored to address the needs of SMBs  facing challenges in their holiday planning. Their offerings encompass a wide array of marketing  solutions, including marketing material design and printing, social media content development, and  branded merchandise production. VistaPrint serves SMBs all-in-one destination for fulfilling their  business’ marketing requirements. Head to www.vistaprint.com.au for more information. 

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