Focus your holiday business promotion on your customers’ emotions

It is the time to start planning for your business’s holiday promotions because November and December will be here before you know it.
Timing matters when it comes to holiday promotions. While there is no way of knowing when your customers will act on your promotions, one thing is certain: they will look for the promotions either to save money on goods or services or make their shopping needs easier.
Timing is key in holiday promotions. Release promotions too early and you potentially will sell less. The same goes for if your promotions come too late.
Knowing your customers and their shopping habits is essential. Use your sales data from last year as well as years before to see if you can spot a trend. Monitor social networking platforms to listen on what people are talking about.
The National Retail Federation’s study on consumers holiday buying habits reports that approximately 40 percent of holiday gift givers will begin shopping before Halloween then another 40 percent will wait until November. The rest are last minute shoppers waiting until December to make purchases.
Ideally, holiday promotion planning should start during the summer. That said, most business owners have lots of balls in the air and often the marketing ball gets pushed down the list.
Let’s get thinking about what you can do to jump-start your holiday promotions now that you know a high percentage of consumers start buying in October into November.
Decision-making is not purely rational, especially around the holidays. Consumers are likely to make decisions emotionally before justifying them rationally. Your holiday marketing should focus on the emotional. Focus on the feelings of the season: good will, giving back and gratitude.

Start with the following:

▪  Review your promotional goods such as fliers, emails, coupons, to decide if you can repurpose them with some refreshment.
▪  Create a promotions calendar. Using sales and other data, determine when your customers are buying during the holidays. Put a list together of the upcoming holidays. And remember that impulse buys, which are often cheaper goods, tend to happen early in the holiday buying cycle while more expensive goods buys happen later.
▪  Ensure your website is ready. It is time to test your website’s bandwidth to see if it can handle a spike in visits.
▪  Use social media. If you have a presence on social networking platforms, this is a good time to share with your followers your special deals and to interact with them.
▪  Check your inventory. Ensure you have in stock what you are selling. That seems like a no brainer, but it’s important to ensure you have the products available.
▪  Staff up. This is the time you should think about adding staff. Being able to provide outstanding customer service during a busy time will benefit your business. It may be the difference between having a one-time customer and having a return customer.
The holidays can be an opportunity to develop an emotional bond with your customers. Build that bond by not only fulfilling a need for your customer, but also filling them with good feelings. Do that by listening to your customers’ needs, understanding their buying habits and providing them with personalized service.
This approach will position your business for maximum holiday success.

This column was originally published in the Lexington Herald-Leader on September 26, 2016 and nationally distributed  to over 300 media outlets through the Tribune Content Agency. 

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