There are just days left in the holiday shopping season, and that means your marketing efforts are getting a lot more intense. But the new rules for the changed economy say no business owners should have to unload a huge chunk of their earnings into a holiday season marketing program, even though they might have spent this way in the old days … and even if their businesses lean a lot on this time of year. So which low-cost marketing strategies yield the best results?
The following strategies represent some recession-friendly, creative ways to market your company over the next few holiday weeks.
Bring your customers together. We’re talking about social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. According to Dan Klaus, a marketing specialist at Cheap TV Spots, while simply having a Facebook page will not instantly bring in new clients, not having one at all can be a turn-off to potential customers. Personalize your page and put an actual face on your company by adding photos of your offices or employees. During the holidays, advertise any special promotions, sales or deals you have through your status updates and any photos from special holiday events. You can also tap the seasonal creativity of your customers: The Gap, for one, has set up a site at CheerFactory.com where customers can create their own holiday cheers to share on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It’s like a free, extended sales force. If you’re leery of the time involved, know this: Most of these applications, promotions and widgets take minutes to set up.
Ask your prospects and clients what’s on their holiday wish list through surveys … and give yourself the gift of case studies and testimonials from satisfied clients. A savvy business owner will survey his/her clients and prospective customers several times per year to gauge their needs. The holidays provide a chance to check in with those in your sales funnel by sending out holiday messages… with surveys, so you can build marketing campaigns that will speak to the real needs of your customer and client base. MoreBusiness.com stresses that any marketing campaign will have more impact if you have a deep understanding of both your customers and our business. Surveys can reveal changing industry trends as well as any gaps in your own services, and provide leads on some useful case studies and testimonials for the new year.
To ease the process of drafting testimonials and case studies, guide clients with specific questions or draft suggested testimonials and case studies and e-mail them to your clients for review, then offer a reward – perhaps breakfast or a discount. To save money, send out surveys and questions through e-mail. Set a deadline for responses and offer a valuable reward – a white paper, a discount on products or services or a special holiday giveaway – to those that return surveys promptly.
Create a “12 days of different products and services” promotion. Last year, SmallBizTrends recommended this clever idea: Holiday-themed marketing strategies, such as a “12 Days of …” campaign during which you put a different product or service on sale for twelve days during the holidays or every week during the holidays. This strategy can be an excellent way to drum up new business or keep your current customers and clients happy. According to Ivan Taylor of SmallBizTrends.com, a lot of your customers probably aren’t aware of all the products and services you offer, so this type of campaign can help raise awareness about lesser-known items on your company’s menu and get more revenue.
Emphasize family in your marketing campaigns. Because holidays – Christmas especially – are often about family, stressing this unit in all your holiday marketing campaigns can help attract high-quality customers and clients. Jeff Wuorio of the Microsoft Small Business Center acknowledges that family is the ultimate common ground of holidays because they represent a time for families to gather, and that smart business owners will keep this in mind when thinking about special holiday marketing and sales programs.
Most importantly, this year and every year, make a list and check it twice and thrice; a well thought-out plan will be the best strategy to get just what you wished for.