The holidays have arrived, and you still don't have a plan for marketing to your current customers or reaching out to new markets. Why do the holidays seem to sneak up on us every single year? As much as we try to prepare ourselves for family, shopping, gift giving and travel, it's no wonder we often forget about our businesses marketing during all the holiday mayhem.
It's quite common for business owners to freeze their marketing efforts over the holiday season with the notion that they're going to start strong in the new year; little do they know, however, just how many opportunities have passed them by.
The holidays can be the best time to bring in new business and reconnect with current clients and customers. The holiday rush is not just for brick-and-mortar department stores; it can also help your business by boosting revenue and customer loyalty before the end of the year.
Here are the top seven marketing mistakes businesses make during the holidays:
- No marketing plan going into the holiday season. Your holiday marketing should have been planned in the summertime, but now it's the holiday season, so what do you do? Take some time today to decide what you are going to do and offer for the rest of the holiday season. If it's just too late, then start with a New Year focus. For 2010, set a marketing calendar at the beginning of the year that can serve as a blueprint for your marketing plans year round.
- No communications. Many business owners mistakenly think that offices are closed or people are too busy to be bothered. If you choose not to follow up with leads or customers because it's a busy time of year, you're making excuses. Although the holiday season is hectic for most, for some businesses it's actually the slowest and the best time to pick up the phone and make a call for their business. If it's not the holidays, it'll be the New Year, or Spring break, then summer. Now is the best time to market precisely because so many people don't.
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- No holiday offers. People, for the most part, love the holiday season; they like to focus on gift giving, vacations and family time. So if you don't provide a holiday special or offer that helps them with those goals, you are doing them--and your business--a grave disservice. Any product or service can be repackaged with a holiday offer or theme. Search online to see what other companies are offering; it might spark an idea or two for your business.
- Not sending holiday greetings to customers. These are people that have been loyal, bought from you and supported your business year round; you need to let them know that you are not only thinking about them over the holidays but that you are grateful for their business. Take a few hours out of your day and hand write a holiday greeting card. There are automated systems such as SendOutCards.com where you can design your own card (to add a personal touch) and you can even send a gift with the card. In addition, this service will put the postage on the card and send it for you, saving you a trip to the post office.
- Forgetting to ask how clients are doing. This is something that most businesses completely miss the boat on; they do not survey clients and customers from the current year to see how they can improve in the future. How are you going to know what worked and didn't if you don't ask? If you keep doing what you have always done, you'll keep getting what you've always gotten. Find out what worked and what didn't, look at your systems and your marketing, and then make improvements and enhance your current offerings. Constantcontact.com has great online survey templates. Offer a free gift or holiday discount to customers who take the time to complete your survey.
- Shirking your public relations. Many businesses don't reach out to the media during the holidays because the owners are under the impression that media outlets shut their doors or are too busy to bother with new story ideas. This couldn't be farther from the truth. The media is always open and looking for the next great story or feature. If you can tie your story in with the season, all the better. If you missed the holiday calendar, you can still plant a seed for a feature in the new year. A great way to connect with the media during this time of year is to contact the media using LinkedIn, which will usually go right to their inbox.
- Not tapping into year-end budgets. There are thousands of companies that earmark holiday and year-end budgets--that money must be spent. These budgets are usually set prior to the holidays and focus on staff or client gifts and employee training as well as planning for the new year. What service or product can you offer to help them meet their budget and year-end goals? If you do a keyword search that applies to your industry or topic on social sites such as Twitter, you can see what people are looking for and talking about. This can help you plan and approach contacts with holiday offers.