Too many of the clients I talk to write off December as a marketing black hole. After all, people aren’t really focused on doing anything but holiday shopping and attending parties, right? Why not preserve your energy for a time when people are ready to buy?
Considering the holiday season a time when marketing should be put on hold is missing a great opportunity to connect with your prospects. True, people are overextended financially and time-wise, are cranky and overshopped and are wondering how they’re going to get it all done. But, miraculously, the spirit of the season also survives and gives people more hope, openness and willingness to try new things. Being as it is on the cusp of a great, shiny new year, the holiday season is a golden time to connect with people emotionally about what you do. So, instead of resigning yourself to wait until next year to redouble your efforts to get new clients, ask yourself instead how you can use this unique time of the year to get creative about communicating about your business.
Tie your work in to the season
Ask yourself – what about your business is seasonal? If it’s nutrition, talk up a fresh angle on how to eat nutritiously during the holidays. CPA? Focus on important end-of-the-year planning you can do. Divorce attorney? Send a tipsheet on how to enjoy your holidays as a divorced person, plus 3 important legal matters you should attend to first of the year. Virtually every profession can be tied into the end of the year/holiday theme. If you’re in a profession that’s easily tied into the end of the year (food, shopping, etc. ), then your work is done for you. If not, think harder. Ask yourself – what do people need from me during the holidays? Do they need more balance, a time to relax, a plan for how they’re going to do something better in the coming year? New year planning and balance are great themes that can be carried across many different businesses.
Let people buy gift certificates for your product/service. Hey, they’re going to be giving stuff – it might as well be yours! Look around to see the kind of packaging product-producers are doing and ask yourself: how does that apply to my service? What is an affordable bundle of solutions I can make available during this season?
Holiday card – It’s an old-stand-by for a reason. Insert something that keeps on giving. Challenge yourself to come up with a great “next year at a glance" theme. Or perhaps a gift coupon for your service? A bonus for referring a friend? It’s a great time of the year to reach out and show people how much you appreciate them and remind them how your work can help them.
Put together an end-of-the-year and “What’s Coming Up" report Even as people are frazzled and engaged in other things, they are filled with the expectation of what next year will bring. Why not tell them how they’ll benefit from your work? What’s coming up for you – do you have a new product you’re working on, a workshop they’ll enjoy, an add-on service, a new strategic alliance you want to announce?
Tie a promotion in to New Year’s Resolutions
A cottage industry for service professionals, New Year’s Resolutions can be a great way to make your service real and immediate to your prospects. Ask yourself – what do people resolve to do that I help with? Weight loss and self image? Financial security? Better relationships? Considering these and other broad categories of the kinds of resolutions people make, get creative about what kinds of tips, services and programs you can offer to help people meet their goals.
Party for business
It’s true, you probably won’t ink that important deal or get tons of new buyers during the holiday mixer. Still, all of the chances to meet and celebrate with many people are a golden business opportunity. During holiday parties, people are usually jovial and relaxed about having a good time. So instead of thinking about all the deals you won’t make during the holidays, focus on the spirit of the season and build relationships. After all, everyone who is focused on getting through the season will “go back to work" in a few short weeks. When the season is over, you can call on your holiday-party connections and evoke the good feeling of having been at a holiday party together, then translate that into a conversation about how to further the relationship. And, as always, when attending a holiday party (or any other business gathering), ask the organizer if there is an opportunity to give something as a door prize. What do you give? Your service or product of course!
Now’s a great time to let your key business contacts know they’re important to you. Give your business list a little personal attention and pick out something less generic and more meaningful. Taking the time to find a personally appropriate gift will mean the world to your prospects, referral partners and clients.
People respond to deadlines and the end of the year is an ideal time to build those into your service. It’s smart to re-visit your prices every 6 months anyway. The end of the year is a natural time to communicate to your prospects: prices are going up next year so now is the time to hop on.
With a shift of focus, you can consider the holidays a wonderful time to build new relationships and breathe fresh ideas into your business. One last important tip: Don’t overdo it! Remember, while you can build your business even through the holidays, it’s good to tap into the spirit and focus on family and friends. When you do, the rest will come naturally.
©2005 Maria E. Andreu. Service business owners, get the AMS Letter and receive 10 great tips for marketing, as well as free audio of the popular Building Mktg Confidence. Get instant access, e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.andreumarketingsolutions.com/newsletter.htm