I originally published this article last year…(so be forewarned, there are dated references) But as I heard the 1st Christmas song on the radio yesterday, I thought it might be a good time to post it here. BTW…a PDF of this article and several other published articles are always available on my website.
Holiday Marketing Tips
The bulk of retail sales for the year happen during the holiday shopping season. Depending upon the sort of business you’re in, estimates range from 40% to 70% of the year’s profits coming from holiday shoppers. With those types of numbers on the line, it’s imperative that your marketing work during this time of year. Unfortunately, it’s also the hardest time of year to market. Consumers are being bombarded with messages and are also preoccupied with the stresses of the holiday season. Your marketing MUST stand out above the clutter. Here are some tips that will make this season merry and bright for your business…
1) ALWAYS remind them of the brand – Take the time to reach out and talk to your customers. Send targeted e-mails to your internet database (What?! You don’t have a database?!), use the telephone, direct mail, or whatever works best for your business. You want to get your name in front of your customers for top-of-mind brand awareness during this time when they are ready to buy. Offer incentives with these communications for better results.
2) Plant seeds for the long cold winter ahead – Take a look at your dedicated customers and offer them an incentive to buy from you by offering a discount or perhaps a free gift. When you offer holiday discounts, make them good into the first quarter when you’ll be looking for sales. After-holiday-shopping is an overlooked opportunity for many businesses, as customers want to spend gift cards or money they received as gifts.
3) Get Personal – Ensure that customers remain with your for the next eleven months as well. Take this time to thank them for being a loyal customer throughout the year by sending them a holiday card or e-card. Gifts are not out of line for major customers either. Office Depot currently has a spot featuring Donald Trump where he says that holiday business gifts are not a thank you. They are insurance for continued patronage the next year. The personal touch with a gift or card will help to bolster business. Just be careful with cultural concerns with gifts and cards. Don’t wish a Merry Christmas to a Jewish customer who is looking forward to a Happy Hanukkah.
4) Leverage the power of PR – Got a new item or do you sell one of this year’s “must-haves”? Send press releases and keep contacts with media for holiday gift guides and feature stories. The media will be looking for the “local angle” when everyone is clamoring for a Tickle Me Elmo or other hot item. The story will remind consumers that they can find this item at your business reaping a huge PR win. It’s free advertising and much more effective because it comes with an implied endorsement from the media. It’s also not interruptive media. Consumers will be looking for information when they read these guides and stories and will be more receptive to the message.This will work at the last minute for small businesses and local media. If you’re manufacturing a product and want it in magazines or national media, start your PR pitch in June or July.
5) Standout – “Be remarkable” should be your marketing credo throughout the year. However, you should also remember it during the holiday season to get some free PR. Best practices include Neiman Marcus’ annual Christmas book. This year they feature a $1.45 million bowling alley, a $1.7 million submarine, and a $10 million zeppelin airship in their catalog. No one is buying these items. (in their right mind) But you will see a galore of news stories about them and that will drive enough people to Neiman Marcus to buy lots of clothes, home items, and other more mundane items that people can afford.
6) Create partnerships – Partner with a local restaurant, hotels, or other retailers to create marketing synergy. Give your customers coupons of special offers from your partners and they do the same. It will open up new markets that you may be unable to reach.
7) Holiday Events – Open houses and other special events will showcase your business without the pressure of a purchase commitment. Team up with a local charity, a children’s choir, or other appropriate group to make your business a holiday event center rather than “just a store”.
8) Deck the Website – Be sure to promote your website at all your holiday events, in all ads and press releases, and other marketing pieces during the holidays. Place added value on the website by offering an internet only discount or gift. Keep the content fresh by offering holiday information, news, or tips pertinent to your business. Most important, make certain your site is ready to receive visitors by checking that all links are working properly and you have enough space to handle additional traffic. You don’t want to lose customers (money) when they get tired of your page loading or numerous crashes.
In the end, holiday marketing is just a continuation of the best marketing practices you should already have in place. Always look out for the way to stand out among the clutter and look slightly into the future for trends and everything will fall into place.