In our previous blog post, we discussed the importance of “cleaning house”, clarifying and refining your branding, and being consistent throughout the holiday season and fourth quarter. This period of the year is vitally important for many businesses both big and small, but it is even more crucial for retailers and small businesses that depend on a strong fourth quarter to close out the year financially viable and stable.

Don’t Ignore Your Brand

With so many concerns, such as inventory and staffing, it may be difficult for some entrepreneurs and small business owners to understand why they should apply time, resources, and even money to realigning their branding. After all, if business is “normal,” then it couldn’t be broken and, therefore, there are more important “practical” concerns to address. While this outlook may appear to be practical to some entrepreneurs, it is also dangerously short sighted, as ignoring your branding is ignoring your core messaging to your target market. Failing to reach your target market before and during one of the most highly competitive seasons of the year can be disastrous.

Large Retailers Don’t Hold All Of The Cards

It is no secret that the holiday season can be a volatile and cutthroat time for retailers and other small businesses. With the physical retail space dominated by “big box” stores like Wal-Mart and Target, and the online shopping world dominated by large sellers like Amazon, it is almost impossible for small retailers to compete on price alone, online, or in a physical “brick and mortar” storefront. Through just the sheer scale of their operations, large retailers have an almost insurmountable advantage when it comes to price, selection, and convenience, but they don’t hold all of the cards. Many shoppers can be swayed away from shopping at large retailers when they experience impersonal or poor service, long lines, crowds, and even a large or overwhelming selection of product choices. While small retailers are finding it increasingly difficult or even impossible to compete on price, these deficiencies provide excellent opportunities to sway shoppers away from the best price or the largest selection – but only if you effectively communicate the uniqueness of your business to your target market.

Success Or Failure Can Depend On Uniqueness And Value

Not every holiday shopper can be convinced through the power of branding and marketing to abandon the best price or the best deal. In fact, as early-morning “Black Friday” crowds demonstrate, some shoppers will endure a number of hardships to snag a fantastic deal. If your small business simply isn’t capable of meeting or beating a drastically-reduced price, it may be futile to try and win over these customers. However, it is unlikely that your small business was founded on the principle that price is everything. Instead, you most likely founded your small business because you believe that you can provide a unique and/or superior service or shopping experience to your customers. If your business has survived in a competitive marketplace for any length of time, that believe has proven itself to be true. Clarifying your branding before the holiday season is important because the only way that you can convince a significant portion of your target market that your uniqueness or quality of service outweighs the lower price of a large retailer is by making your business – and your promise – unique and memorable through your brand and branding elements.