Wednesday, October 31, 2012

End of Year Marketing Strategies

The holiday shopping season, which once began shortly after Thanksgiving, has steadily crept forward until Santa often arrives accompanied by the Great Pumpkin. The Hay Group reports that 42% of retailers will begin their promotion blitz in October, well before Black Friday. Sometimes it’s difficult to know just when you should kick off your year-end campaign and the best way to do it, but if you haven’t moved that direction yet, don’t panic – Plan! Here are some quick tips to get you started.

1.  Start Now.

Look backward to see what items or promotions have worked best for you in the past and then look at the weeks between now and the end of the year to plan a series of promotions that tap into those strengths. What products have the best saleability this season? Could you host in-store events that will attract foot traffic? How can you use your web site to maximize exposure? Make a list, grab a calendar, and start sketching out your holiday plan to include several distinct promotions that highlight an event or products.

2.  Be Strategic.

What things do you need to do to ensure success? Have you ordered enough merchandise? Do you have good pictures and descriptions of your holiday items? How long should each distinct promotion last? How far ahead should you send out your email post card or newsletter? When will you write the articles and plan newsletter elements? Don’t put off making these decisions or taking care of details. A few extra minutes spent in planning and preparation now will provide valuable breathing space during the press of holiday stress. Check with your vendors to make sure you’ll have what you need when you want it; Write articles and product spotlights now so that they are readily available for each email newsletter or postcard. 

3.  Give your Series a Theme.

Use the same holiday template and theme (Twelve Days of Christmas Cheer; A Season of Savings, etc.) on each communication to create consistency, provide recognition, and save you time, but feature a different promotion (Make-n-take night) or product (one day only). As soon as customers open your email, they’ll look for the current offering. Be sure to let them know early enough that they have time to plan to attend your event.

4.  Focus on Service.

You may not be able to match the big box prices, but you can overshadow them by providing the services people seek. Offer services that appeal to a range of customers. Gift cards or unique gift packs help make selection easier for those unfamiliar with your product but who are buying for people who love it. Free gift wrapping or inexpensive wrapping provided by a service organization removes one more thing from a busy mother’s to-do list. Make-n-Take classes or festive special events with holiday goodies and music attract those who enjoy being immersed in the holiday spirit. Other popular items are free shipping, overnight or express delivery, a customer-friendly return policy, and online pick and pull so their order is ready when they arrive.

5. Share the Joy.

Enthusiasm is contagious. Involve your employees in your plans and have them encourage walk-in customers to sign up for the newsletter to learn about each week’s special.

Yes, the holiday season is already upon us, but there is still ample time to magnify the possibilities with a good marketing plan….and Email Contact!