Here's the thing: Christmas in April

Christmas in April - alternative Christmas planning for small businessesI’ll be honest – I’ve been working myself up to this one. Because it might not be entirely what you think.

Let’s start with what’s happening.

Lots of people, like glossy magazines, marketplaces, retailers, and PR and marketing people of all kinds are starting to plan for their Christmas content and collections and campaigns. It takes them a long time to put things together and, especially for print, it’s important to plan ahead.

Nothing new here.

But it filters back to designers and makers who suddenly get into a flap in April about not having their entire Christmas range planned and made and photographed and the rest of it.

If you’re sat at your desk right now feeling totally organised and wonderfully placed for Christmas 2015, I am so pleased! It is a huge effort to get things done, especially if this is the first year you’ve met the deadlines and timetable of all these other people. You may not need to read the rest…

Because, for the rest of you, I want you to receive this message loud and clear: it does not matter.

I say this with love and respect for the big marketing wheel, for the PR industry, for everyone who mistakenly believes that creating exceptional products is a conveyor belt process.

I say this because I have seen products created and launched in November that have sold beautifully – exceptionally.

I say this because the brave new world of the internet, of digital marketing, of reactive marketing, of the unplanned and unseen opportunities – they have all made it possible for less planning, less insanity, and less fear-based craziness.

Do you want to know what will make your business a success at Christmas? Lean in a little closer, because it’s a big deal.

Great products. Really, really wonderful unique products that people are going to love.

And if you don’t yet have them, it’s not the end of the world. I also implore you not to rush something out in a day or two weeks in order to meet someone else’s deadline. Create something magnificent (which requires an unfixed amount of time) and people will love it, buy it, want it.

So here’s the thing:

I propose a new Christmas master plan for you.

  1. Concentrate on what you do best: making new, wonderful, delightful, want-able products. Give yourself time (lots of it) to create, to play with ideas, to percolate and see what feels good and interesting and right to you. Be inspired by whatever inspires you. Emerse yourself in the creative process. This is the best investment you can make, because it will give you the best results in the end.
  2. Share your creations. Once they’re there, once they’re ready (FULLY ready), tell people. Send out lovely press releases. Take wonderful storytelling photos. Share them online. Send samples to people who might like to feature them, sell them, or promote them. Even if it’s too late for print, it’s not too late for everyone else.
  3. Stop thinking short term. Worried about not having a million billion pound turnover this Christmas because you haven’t got 100 products to market yet? You’re thinking too small! Products have a lifespan. When they’re especially new and exciting, it can take a couple of years for them to build up traction and excitement, especially if they’re seasonal. Your trend-setting, thought-leading product might not sell a million billion units this year, but you’re investing in the future. Have a good Christmas this year. Create products full of integrity and interest. And see what unfolds.
  4. Stop dancing to other people’s tune(s). Collaboration is important. Working with people who will help you get more sales is important. But please realise that you’re the boss of you and your products. You do not need to meet other people’s (sometimes unreasonable) demands in order to succeed. If you can, without too much effort or compromise, then do. If not, walk your own path.

I know that, to some of you, this may sound crazy. Maybe it sounds like I’m off my rocker, never to have a commercial thought in my head again. But, seriously, it’s not about meeting deadlines or being influenced by fear-mongering.

It’s about creating something really good.

There are buyers, seekers, your dream customers out there who look for products like yours, even that one you haven’t even made yet. They’ll find them. But allow yourself to create them first.

Jx

5 thoughts on “Here's the thing: Christmas in April”

  1. Jenny that is so well put and you’ve me me feel a whole lot better about my decision not to design to demand, and just let it happen 😉
    I made a huge effort to meet deadlines last year at the expense of my family life, mock up products rejected I felt disheartened. I didn’t have the heart to bring them into fruition.
    Then a week before one seasonal event I decided to go with my gut and just get them out there, printed, photographed, blogged and listed in 2 days. Late to the party I know but within 3 days I had sold out and had to reprint!
    Christmas in April, not me, it will happen when creativity strikes 😉 xxx

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for sharing this story, Jacqui! It’s definitely not the first of its kind I’ve heard. When a product is good, it’s good. Well done for going with your gut, and I hope you have a much calmer approach this year! Jx

      Reply

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