For most people, our business and personal lives get busier during the holiday season, from late October through the New Year. While some businesses, such as retail establishments, enjoy peak sales during this time of year, others, particularly in a business-to-business industry, struggle to prospect and sell effectively. More and more, we hear the #1 excuse that we hate to hear from prospects: “Call me after the first of the year.”
Since sales are important to maintain every month, how can we keep the sales and marketing efforts going during the final months of the year? Here are some tips:
1. Hold a holiday open house. Most everyone likes to mingle, network with colleagues, sip hot cider and taste delicious appetizers (at least I do). So what better way to get your prospects to come to you than to have an open house or customer appreciation night? Invite your customers, prospects, partners and even members of the media. Hold giveaways with door prizes and discounts as incentives to boost attendance. Don’t forget to use this time to showcase what’s new or unique about your product or service offering while you have your prospects’ attention. If your space is too small, many hotels have meeting space for rent, or you can hold a joint event with a partner.
2. Attend holiday networking or charity events. If your prospects aren’t answering the phones this time of year (or returning calls either, for that matter), try attending the various holiday networking parties or charity functions for your industry or for the groups in which you are involved. What a great way to build relationships with your targeted prospects — while you are enjoying the festivities of a holiday party. Don’t forget to exchange business cards or maybe even set an appointment or two while you’re there (even if it’s for after the holidays).
3. Tie your marketing with the seasons. Offer a Thanksgiving special or discount that is only good through Thanksgiving. Theme your direct mail, email or advertisement with Fall leaves, turkeys or other holiday symbols. Get creative and make your marketing messages fun so they stand out from the crowd. Or simply send a letter or email to your prospects individually, mentioning the seasonal offer, and make it clear that the offer is only good if they act before the specified holiday deadline.
4. Drop by with or send a holiday gift to special prospects or customers. Find a unique way to be remembered this season by sending a personal gift, such as homemade goodies or a unique gift basket to your best prospects or customers. If you deliver it personally, you’ll make an even greater impact. Connect the gift to your prospects’ interests, hobbies or industry, or connect it to your business or product/service offering. Keep your name top-of-mind during the holidays and your customers and prospects won’t forget where to go later when they need your product or service.
5. Show how your product or service will give more free time or money to spend during the holidays. Most businesses can honestly claim that their product or service alleviates a major pain in the prospects’ life, such as lack of time or funds. If your product or service can save time, money or headaches, sell those benefits in your marketing. Alleviating these pains may be even more important to your prospects when their time or resources are more valuable — during this busy time of year.
6. Think gift certificates and bulk sales. Can your product or service become useful as a gift certificate for business associates? Perhaps you are a business or personal coach and could target significant others with your service as a unique gift idea. Or possibly your company’s product or service could be useful on a larger scale to one of your customer’s customers, and you could arrange for a bulk sale at a discount. Maybe you could even use this opportunity to get your customers to pre-pay for your services, and of course receive a discount for doing so. The options are endless.
Remember — just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean that you can take a holiday from selling and marketing. Although it might take a little more creativity, you may find that the holiday season can become your most profitable and successful time of year. Enjoy it!