‘tis the season for making sales

The Christmas season is undoubtedly the biggest revenue generator for businesses that have gift-related merchandise or services to offer.

The Christmas season is undoubtedly the biggest revenue generator for businesses that have gift-related merchandise or services to offer. Some reports state that 70 per cent or more of total retail sales are brought in during this time of the year.

Marketing on the other hand at this time of the year has also become increasingly complex and competitive. And the competition is fierce. One of the biggest challenges for many will come in the form of online shopping. Another is the notion that consumers will hold off buying until the big events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and those seemingly annual pre-Christmas Boxing Day sales have taken place.

Adding to the challenge is the complexity of who is doing the shopping. If your product or service is being bought as a gift, then they, more than likely, will not be someone who fits within your traditional target group … husbands buying for wives, wives for husbands, grandparents for grandchildren, friends for friends and so on.

So how do you reach these different groups? The key of course is in knowing your customers like the back of your hand. The focus for your marketing is in how you communicate what their wants, needs and desires are not only to them but to those who are out there hunting for an appropriate gift for them.

One of the most important things to remember is that the benefits of your product or service are everything. Will it make people feel better, ease their workload, raise their spirits, provide comfort, and of course at this time of the year make the gift giver look real good in the eyes of the receiver. These are the things you need to stress so that the buyer can make that relationship in terms of the person they are shopping for.

It is not always possible to make your communication be all things to all people. What you might consider is running two different campaigns … one for your regular customers and another for those who may only buy from you during this time of the year.

Stick to the basics, keep it simple but above all be creative. Advertising and communications at this time of the year can be fairly predictable. Traditional messages, events and sales can be overlooked. If you have been holding the same Christmas sale event for the past 10 years it might be time to try something different.

If you are on a tight budget, consider partnering with a non-competitive business whose products or services appeals to your targeted Christmas shopper. Joint promotions can work well if you are giving fair value on a purchase. For example, buy one of our special holiday spa packages and get a 20 per cent discount at the Tool Shop. In return, the Tool Shop offers a special gift set of tools and the purchaser receives a 20 per cent discount on a massage and facial package at the spa. In this instance it does not take much to figure out who the target groups are and who they are buying for.

Get creative with your social media campaigns. With people going online looking for ideas and deals, here’s your opportunity to develop a special offer that is available only through your social media.  One strategy is to create an ‘order online, pick up in store’ promotion which can help with those impulse buys once they arrive in your store.

People at this time of the year are generally in more of a giving mood yet at the same time are very conscious of the money they are spending. This is a good time to highlight your social responsibility in the community. Use this time to showcase your support for local charities like the food bank or the local group that co-ordinates gift giving for those less fortunate.

And finally don’t forget to be grateful for the business your customers bring. Give them something extra even if it is a little wrapping paper for that special gift they just purchased.

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at joesmith@shaw.ca or visit his art website at www.joesmith.ca

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