Do you remember that scene in Home Alone 2 when Kevin and his brother, Buzz, are singing in the choir? Buzz, ever the bully, distracts Kevin during his big solo. Kevin pushes Buzz in retaliation, setting off a hilarious chain reaction of disaster. When it comes to the holidays, your business is in a situation similar to Kevin’s. This is your chance for a solo in front of a crowd. How big is that crowd? Well, the National Retail Federation reports that holiday retail sales are actually expected to increase four percent this year. And that adds up to about $682 billion in sales. The good news is, about a quarter of the nation’s shoppers will make purchases from a retailer they’ve never shopped with before. Again, this is your big solo. Your chance to impress some of these folks who are ready and willing to be wooed. If you’re prepared for the madness of the holiday season, you’ll nail your solo and may even get an ovation from the crowd. But if you allow yourself to be distracted by the Buzz-like problems and stress that accompany the holidays, you may end up like poor Kevin. With that in mind, here are some tips for shoring up your marketing efforts so that you’re in the best position to attract holiday shoppers this year: Be ready for the full holiday shopping season As reported by the eggheads at Google, holiday shopping is steadily encroaching into months that don’t end in “ember.” Case in point, 10 percent of the shopping is done by August. Hold a photo contest Most humans have four basic needs: food, water, shelter, and to see photos of themselves on the Internet. Capitalize on this by holding a fun holiday photo contest. Ugly sweater pics are always popular, but the possibilities for the theme are endless. Add coupons to purchases Holiday customers are conditioned to seeing coupons. So if you don’t offer any, you’re probably going to lose business. Reward your loyal customers and attract new ones with a good, old-fashioned coupon. Partner with a charity In addition to throwing their money around during the holidays, consumers also want to feel that their purchase somehow makes a difference. When you align with a worthwhile cause, the impact can be felt all around. Provide gift wrapping This is a fairly low-cost way to provide a useful service and endear customers to you. So whether you have a retail store or are based online, make it known that you’ll happily wrap things up for your customers. Use a window display If you have a brick-and-mortar store, take a tip from shops of yesteryear and create a high-impact holiday window display. If you’re exclusively online, that’s great. You can make your website a modern holiday window display. Put some cheer in your emails Take that same positive energy you applied to your website and use it for a holiday email campaign. This will create a seamless (and pleasant) experience for customers who click a CTA in your email and end up on your website. Share the sample love If product samples are relevant for your business, consider giving them to potential customers a little more freely around the holidays. And send some to bloggers and product reviewers as well, because they can help spread the word through gift guides and articles.