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Holiday, Vacation & Weekend


Beat the Holiday Sales Blues With These Festive Marketing Ideas

If your business takes a downturn during the holidays, follow these great marketing tips to turn those holiday blues into holiday sales!

low cost marketing, holiday marketing, promotions, small business marketing

The holidays can be a tough time of year for some businesses.

Let’s face it, if you are not in a retail business tied to the holidays, odds are your business dips this time of year. It’s a natural phenomenon - consumers are preoccupied and busy so they tend to put off purchases and decisions that they don’t absolutely have to make, until the first of the year.

So what can you do to drum up some business so December isn’t a total bust? Well I always say, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! How can you take advantage of the holidays and gift giving and buying?

One suggestion is to consider selling gift certificates. Just about any type of consumer business, whether you sell products or services, can offer gift certificates.

Promote your gift certificates to your current clients and customers as a way for them to share your products or services that they know and love with a friend or family member. (This can be a great way to facilitate referrals and generate new business, too!).

Gift certificates not appropriate for your business? How about offering an end-of-year or a seasonal special? Make sure your special expires on December 31. This could be a product or service you are discontinuing or closing out. Or it could be a special holiday discount on a regular product or service.

By giving your customers a great deal, or offer they can’t normally get, you give them a reason to purchase from you now vs. waiting until after the holidays. They will appreciate the special price considering their expenses are higher than normal in December. And you win, because you make a sale when you otherwise would not have. Your profit margin may be lower, but at least it is profit!

So be creative. Think about how you can turn your product or service into a unique gift idea. A way for someone to learn the benefits of having a fitness trainer or personal coach first hand, through a gift of a few sessions. Fresh flowers every month for 6 months. $50 toward the purchase of any product or service you offer. A free consultation.

Following are three more holiday marketing ideas you may want to consider:

(1) Offer to donate a percentage of all sales in December to your favorite charity and publicize it with a press release to the media.

(2) Do a promotion giving one lucky customer the chance to win their holiday purchase for free. Select one customer at the end of December and refund them for the full price of their purchase. This will get all buyers excited and will give them an incentive to buy now. Put a maximum value on the prize if you want to protect yourself from having to refund too large of a purchase.

(3) Or just find a way to help your customers see that now is the perfect time to buy, before your prices increase in the new year (Buy Now and Save!), or before you no longer offer a particular product or service. If you don’t want to discount, offer a free gift or value-added bonus with purchase.

Once you’ve decided to make a special holiday offer to your customers. What is the best way to make them aware of this offer?

How about through your regular e-zine or e-newsletter? Along with your regular content, include a line or two about this special promotion. Include a link to the page on your web site where customers can go to take advantage of your special offer.

Don’t publish an e-zine? That’s okay, send out an email notifying your customers of your special holiday offer. Use a compelling Subject Line to get them to open the email. If you have email addresses for both current customers and prospects you may want to send out two different emails.

You could use the email to your current customers to thank them for all of their business over the past year. Or suggest that since they like your products or services so much, they may want to share them with a friend or family member by purchasing a gift. Put together a special gift package to make their shopping easy.

Don’t have email address for your customers or prospects. Here’s six more ways to quickly get the word out about your holiday promotion or special offer.

(1) Put up a poster in your retail location.

(2) Promote your holiday special on your web site home page.

(3) Telephone your best customers to tell them about your end-of-year special, reserved for only your very best customers.

(4) Run a small ad where you usually advertise, but have the ad promote your holiday special.

(5) Include a note on all of your receipts and be sure to make all of your regular December customers aware as well. You may be able to increase the amount of their purchase or get them to return later in the month to make another purchase.

(6) Create a promotional flyer and hand it out in areas your customers and prospects frequent, or find another business you can partner with (a complimentary or non-competing product or service) who might be willing to make your promotional flyers available to their customers, if you do the same for them.

(C) Copyright 2005 Debbie LaChusa, 10stepmarketing


Gift Card "Rush" Will Boost Holiday Sales Figures

While online and retail holiday shopping sales have met or exceeded expectations for most retailers in 2005, there is another "rush" for all retailers to prepare for: gift card redemption.

According to Hitwise, an online intelligence service, the market share of U.S. Internet searches containing the words "gift card" was up 32% for the week ending December 10, 2005 as compared to the previous week. In fact, the National Retail Federation expects gift card sales to increase...

gift card, holiday sales, shopping,

While online and retail holiday shopping sales have met or exceeded expectations for most retailers in 2005, there is another "rush" for all retailers to prepare for: gift card redemption.

According to Hitwise, an online intelligence service, the market share of U.S. Internet searches containing the words "gift card" was up 32% for the week ending December 10, 2005 as compared to the previous week. In fact, the National Retail Federation expects gift card sales to increase 6.6% this holiday season to 18.48 billion dollars, with consumers spending an average of $88 dollars on gift cards or 15.6% of their holiday shopping budget.

Gift certificates have always been a popular gift choice for the hard to please recipient or even for the lazy shopper. For the gift giver, it allows a quick purchase at whatever store or online merchant they select, with a dollar amount that fits their budget. For the recipient, they can select what they want from a particular merchant and for the most part use the card at their convenience.

But for some, giving a gift card is a cop-out, reasoning it is too impersonal and opting to hand pick a gift and selecting something special and unique for a loved one or friend. However, for some, the gift card is the ideal gift choice, with family or friends even suggesting the store or online merchant they prefer.

For the merchants, it has extended the holiday shopping season because they cannot record the sale until the recipient uses the gift card to make a purchase. This holds down sales figures in November and December, but provides a boost in January when most cards are redeemed. An additional boost is provided by the fact that most of the shoppers who redeem their gift cards typically spend 15% to 50% more than the face value of the card when they select their holiday gift.

There are some downsides to gift cards. Some retailers clear unused gift cards off the books by subtracting off of the face value of the card, an inactivity fee (usually $2.50 per month) after a certain amount of time. Some gift cards have an expiration date and others come with special conditions or restrictions. However, consumer outrage has prompted many states across the country to introduce legislation limiting or banning the fees. Additionally, there is no federal law on gift cards but, two Republican congressmen, Joe Barton of Texas and Charlie Bass of New Hampshire, have requested that the Federal Trade Commission investigate the way retailers conduct their gift card programs.

Is giving a gift card too impersonal? Is it the best gift choice? That question is up for debate and is a personal preference. But with annual gift card sales projected to reach 90 billion dollars by 2007 (Ernst & Young 2005), the gift card is here to stay.


Maximize Your Ebay Holiday Sales

Just as with other retailers, Ebay sees a sales peak each November and December as buyers get serious about holiday gifts. Wise Ebay sellers enjoy a surge in income during the gift-giving season. What can you do to maximize your own profits during the holidays?

One good rule to follow is this: don't wait until the holidays roll around to start your sales campaign. Lots of online holiday shoppers start shopping early to avoid the last-minute shipping rush. To make the most of your Ebay holiday sales, you'll need to start early, too.

Start listing your holiday items in September or October. This will give you several listing cycles in which to promote your Ebay items before the holidays.
Do some research on "hot gifts" months before you start listing. That way, you'll have time to build up your stock of items projected to be top sellers. News programs and web sites often have lists of the year's must-have toys and gadgets. You can also use Ebay's "What’s Hot" page to see which items are top sellers. Ebay Pulse lets you keep an eye on current trends. Remember that hot gifts are hot both online and off. If you find the next must-have at a great price, snatch it up! It will almost certainly turn nice a profit on Ebay.

Speaking of hot items, what else should you sell on Ebay around the holidays? Anything that would make a good gift. Finished products tend to sell better than component parts. Think about it: would you rather be gifted with a package of candle-making supplies, or finished candles? Most people will want the finished product. If you're a craft maker, really market and promote your finished crafts during the holiday season.

The holiday season is the perfect time to target impulse buyers. You can do this on Ebay by adding the “Buy It Now” option to most or all of your listings. And you can even sweeten the deal by offering free shipping for your Buy It Now items. With a deal this tempting, even casual browsers will be persuaded to make a purchase. The small amount of revenue you lose on shipping will more than pay for itself with your increase in overall sales.

The postal system can get a little crazy over the holidays, so be sure to let your customers know if a shipment will be delayed. The sooner you warn them, the better. To avoid delays altogether, go with shipping methods that guarantee a delivery date. They can be a little costly, but your ability to get the package to the customer on time will result in valuable feedback and possibly word-of-mouth advertising. You certainly don’t want to be known as an unreliable seller. Pay the extra cash and make sure your customers have a happy holiday.

Finally, put a personalized holiday touch in your listings and e-mails. Even simple graphics or festive colors can show buyers that you’re in the holiday spirit. Just don’t go overboard; dancing elves and flashing lights are entertaining, but they can slow down buyers’ computers and distract them from the contents of the page. The perfect holiday template is seasonal without being obnoxious.

Ebay is a powerful selling tool year round, but especially during the holidays. With just a little bit of effort, you can capitalize on the holiday rush, improve your seller rating, and make some serious money.


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