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Holiday Sales Secrets

Ready to try something new this holiday season? Here are four ways to win more sales and raise your company's visibility.

With the sounds of back-to-school promotions still ringing in our ears, it's time again to prepare for the upcoming holiday season. Are you hoping to achieve new fourth-quarter sales goals? If so, why settle for the same old marketing tactics? Even if you own a nonseasonal service business, the holidays are a great time to engage in programs that will raise your company's visibility and enhance your image--some may even allow you to help others along the way. This holiday season, try one of these four ideas to increase sales and foster goodwill for your company:

1. Roll out premium customer rewards. Whether you're a brick-and-mortar retailer or you sell online, supersize your customer rewards program. Entice your top-tier customers to spend more by offering a series of premium rewards. Offer past customers special discounts or perks, such as free shipping or double rewards points, on certain products or product areas. If you communicate via e-mail, offer speedy checkout to enrolled customers. For best results, make a succession of approximately three premium rewards offers between Halloween and Christmas. And take a page out of Amazon.com's book by tailoring your rewards to match your customers' purchase histories.

2. Create a unique holiday promotion. Make it easier for your customers to give their favorite gifts, and build a promotion around the spirit of giving. For example, you can offer a unique promotion on a specific product. When a customer buys one, offer to send a second one, already gift-wrapped, at half off to someone on their list. Another idea: Ask customers to give you their lists, and then provide suggestions for everyone on them. As an added bonus, offer free gift-wrapping.

Even nonseasonal service businesses can draw in new customers with holiday promotions. An auto service and supply business, for instance, could attract new customers by advertising a specially priced "safe holiday travel" promotion, including a tuneup and safety inspection.

3. Donate a portion of your proceeds. Sometimes businesses that sell nation-wide via direct marketing or online have a difficult time differentiating from the thousands of other companies that sell similar products or services. It can be tough to build a truly individual identity in the minds of your customers when they have limited contact with you and your staff. The holiday season is a terrific time to show your company's heart and let your customers know that what matters to them also matters to you. One way to accomplish this is to donate a portion of sales from a particular type of product or service to a designated charity. Or better yet, allow customers to choose their favorites from a list of several national charities to receive the proceeds from their purchases.

4. Hold a charitable holiday party. Do you have a local customer base? Instead of the same old holiday party, why not make it a special event this year by linking with a local charitable organization? Sell tickets, offer a silent auction, create an awards program, bring in celebrities, or do whatever it takes to generate income for the charity. Pre- and post-event publicity efforts should include invitations and press releases to members of the local media, story ideas or exclusives to key press, and distribution of event photos to the print media. In addition to the philanthropic benefits the charity will enjoy, your company will raise its visibility in the community, establish an image as a good corporate citizen, and enhance staff morale. Companies that engage in this form of PR often become local heroes--why not become one of them?

Kim Gordon is the owner of National Marketing Federation and is a multifaceted marketing expert, speaker, author and media spokesperson. Her latest book is Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars.
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