As small business owners, some things are beyond our control. While we can’t predict external factors such as the weather or large-scale sales forecasts, we can decide which opportunities are worth pursuing.
On the heels of a 0.04% dip in U.S. consumer spending during the month of January, many retailers are scrambling to generate foot traffic and boost sluggish sales. One way they’re doing this is devising promotional efforts that center on holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day.
In general, it’s good to spread your marketing messaging out fairly evenly. But with holidays, it pays to remain highly targeted and be precise. How we promote during specific seasons can have a huge impact on business results and make or break the fiscal year.
As a company, your holiday marketing efforts – and most marketing efforts in general — should boil down to consideration of a few points:
-Context: How relevant is the product/service to enjoyment of the holiday?
-Clever: Is the product/service introduction novel, unique or unexpected?
-Conversation: Does the product/service at hand lend itself well to consumer talk?
-Convenience: Does your promotion or product/service make life easier?
When handled correctly, almost any imaginable product or service can be co-opted into the spirit of the season. But when a business clumsily inserts itself into the fray, it might be advised to expect a flat out rejection.
So is your business meant for holiday marketing? Here are some thoughts on holiday marketing from our friends at Redhype, a digital & branding agency in South Carolina.
DO: Have a plan
Without a coordinated effort for promote your items, where to promote them and what to promote, your business will fail to capitalize on the current promotion cycle.
-Simply put: Fresh roses don’t last forever. Send to the right person at the right time.
DO: Find the relevant holiday(s) for your brand
Common sense is king here. A candy manufacturer will reign supreme on Valentine’s Day, but the local brewer is king on St. Patrick’s. By focusing your efforts on a few holidays, rather than pushing promotions every time the calendar turns, you can save on product and promotion costs.
-Simply put: If you’re selling hot dogs, don’t do it on Christmas. Get in on it July 4.
DO: Make the customer king
Holiday shopping is stressful. No matter the reason or season, there are always attendant duties and things to buy for the celebration. By targeting your customers’ needs and making it easier for them to purchase, whether that’s by providing wishlists, keeping expanded hours, or utilizing tailored mobile apps, you can provide them something more valuable than a product: relief.
-Simply put: Bring the reason and the season to the buyer.
DO: Get people talking
Time and time again, studies show that word-of-mouth marketing is perhaps more effective than traditional advertising or PR. At Redhype, we work to build social capital for our clients as much as possible. By imbuing marketing messages with easy-to-share conversational items and encourage consumers to talk about products and services that excite.
-Simply put: Keep it simple. Put the words in your customers’ mouths.
DON’T: Run a cheesy campaign
Legendary ad man Tom McElligott once said, “I’d much rather overestimate the intelligence of the consumer than underestimate it.” Don’t insult your customers by crafting a cheesy line about LOVE for your product. The simple fact is that not everyone is going to.
-Simply put: Don’t fuel criticism of your brand by selling something that’s irrelevant.
DON’T: Give worthless deals
The best advertising turns heads. Not rolls eyes. A ten percent off coupon in the paper works best for day-to-day items, but is hardly effective at enticing customers during the holiday sales cycle.
-Simply put: Give a reason to be excited, not just another number off the sale price.
DON’T: Run sales too early
While it may be tempting to put out a great sale before the competition, don’t disregard your profit margins. Customers will buy items all the way up until the last minute, so tweak your messaging and make sure your timing is apt.
-Simply put: Catering to the last minute shoppers can enhance the bottom line.
DON’T: Miss out on mobile sales
Sales made on smartphones and tablets are booming, almost exponentially, with estimates at around 16 percent of total retail sales in the United States … and growing.
-Simply put: You gotta meet your customers where they are. Hint: It’s their phones.
DON’T: Lose your momentum
Many companies wait until top shopping seasons to promote, only to drop off the radar shortly thereafter. Be sure to follow up on your promotional mix with additional, smaller promotions and also via social media to retain the customers you gained during the holidays.
-Simply put: Holidays are good and well. But customers year-round are better.