The holidays are on the horizon, so your gift card sales will go through the roof, right? Well…
Why limit your holiday marketing to gift certificates?
1) If you have an e-mail newsletter or e-mail addresses for your current customers…
- E-mail a list of your best gift ideas to your subscribers in “wish list” form. Make it easy for them to check off what they want and give it to someone else. Remember to include web and telephone ordering information since their gift-giver probably isn’t familiar with your business.
- Holiday marketing communications don’t have to be promotional. Consider sending something fun to your subscriber list…a cartoon or link to an online game, for example. It might be a pleasant break from the relentless flood of holiday sales pitches from everyone else.
2) If you’ve got lots of existing customer and client relationships…
- Use “you + a friend” promotions to encourage your current customers to give your services to their friends, family and co-workers. Part of the incentive is that the giver benefits from this gift, too! This approach works best with customers who already have established and trusted relationships with your business – otherwise they may be hesitant to give something unknown as a gift.
- Offer “hint lists” – gift suggestions for the people your customers will be buying for. Tailor the categories to your business and your customers. Don’t take the lazy way out and default to “Gifts For Him” and “Gifts For Her”! You can do better. For example, if you know that your female customers are worried about how to get their guys off the couch, list the things you offer that can help solve this problem under a category calling “Getting Your Guy Moving.”
3) If you’d like more attention and name recognition…
- How about grabbing the attention of people driving or walking past with an informal holiday party during business hours? Even better, use the event to benefit a local organization – perhaps a school, so the PTA and similar groups will be motivated to promote it. Provide food and drink (healthy, of course) and low-cost entertainment. Local bands, amateur improv comedy troupes…get creative. The price of admission? It can be anything from an old greeting card to a food or new toy donation. Get the word out inexpensively through your employees, current customers, landlord, service providers (your attorney, CPA, etc.) and neighboring businesses. Let local media know as well.
- Consider a Secret Santa program to improve name recognition. Print up cards with your business name, tagline and location that say “Your coffee’s on us” and give them randomly to people in line at local coffee shops and similar establishments. It’s so unusual that you’ll get tons of free word-of-mouth as stunned recipients tell everyone about it!
- Reach out to other retailers and offer a selection of their products on your website or in your facility. For example, jewelry and accessories might be a good fit for a women-oriented wellness center. Golf accessories from a local retailer might be a great fit for a personal trainer who specializes in sport-specific training. Agree up front on how they’ll compensate you for sales through your business and/or how they can cross-market your business to their customers.
4) If you’d like to tap specifically into the holiday season…
- Offer seasonal programs and services. For example, a recipe makeover class (low-calorie egg nog, anyone?) would be very timely.
- Present your services in the context of the season. Turn your usual stress management class into a session on handling family feuds during the holidays.
- Consider whether your everyday services have special appeal during the holidays. If you’re a fitness center offers drop-off daycare, remind your customers that it’s available to them while they shop.
5) And last…make it easy and rewarding for customers to shop for the holidays with you.
- Highlight interesting and unusual products. For example, Two Roads Fitness offers reflective vests and protective boots for dogs who run with their owners. And you can bet folks whose pets are like family members will absolutely get them holiday gifts.
- Provide a short list of your most popular products or services sorted by price category. Whether your business is online or strictly in-person, many customers shop within a budget. Make it easy for them to find something suitable.
- Punch cards are a great stocking stuffer option. They’re perfect for fitness and wellness classes plus sessions with a wellness professional like a trainer, massage therapist, or nutritionist. They also work well with similarly-priced products – for example, a punch card for ten energy drinks or protein bars, or ten fitness videos, or ten pairs of wicking socks.
- Include a free sample of something you sell with gift certificates, punch cards, and other purchases. For example: individually wrapped healthy chocolates, energy bars and other individually-wrapped food products, trial sizes of nutritional supplements and health and beauty products. It’ll be a great freebie stocking stuffer…or a treat that your customer enjoys right away (and perhaps buys again later).