There are two types of people in this world, right? Those who are already shopping for Christmas in July, and those who don’t even want to think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving. But if you’re marketing your business? You may not have a choice in that matter. So how can you get ready for the holiday sales season? How can you get ready for the holiday sales season without missing the people who start buying early or annoying the people who don’t want to hear it early? Windy discusses how you can strategize and get ready for the holiday sales season in this episode.
Windy Lawson: Hey everyone! Welcome to Social Marketing with Sassy Suite. This is Windy Lawson, your overly-caffeinated, flamingo loving, pink-haired bestie, and a coach with Sassy Suite, and I am not normally the one doing the introduction! I am normal– normally accompanied by my real life bestie, Brenda Ster. But she is on vacation this week and we know our tens of listeners would be disappointed if they did not get a new episode of our podcast.
So, I’m flying solo this week and we’re talking about getting ready for the holiday selling season. And if you are listening to this, if you’re one of our tens of listeners, and you’re listening to this the day it’s published – thank you!
You’re saying to yourself, ‘Windy, it is the first week of October, it is early October. Why are we talking about the holidays? I’m not ready! We haven’t even carved pumpkins yet for crying out loud! Why are you rushing things?”
Friends! We are in sales, are we not? And as sellers, it’s kind of our job to be thinking about what — what we’re going to do for the upcoming quarter. I will tell you, I can pretty much guarantee that the big-box retailers and other retailers that have brick and mortar stores, have been planning for this year’s holiday sales season since last year’s ended. They’ve been waiting since January of this year to start their holiday sales cycle because this time of year is such a strong period of the year for sales. This is a really good quarter for anyone who sells any product. If you sell a product, it’s likely that it — that it will work for a holiday gift and that your sales do quite nicely this time of year.
So the reason that we want to talk about this now is because with the proper planning, with putting together a solid strategy– you know, we get all excited about things like strategy– you can really crush this time of year. When I was actively selling, the fourth quarter of the year pretty much made — was the majority of my money for the entire year. Now, I did a lot of vendor events — I was very busy personally, but this was a really, really strong period of time for me and I know that’s the case for so many of our listeners.
So I wanna make sure that you have some tips in early October, some things to start thinking about now, to help you maximize your holiday sales. And I’m gonna give you some tips, in particular things that people have asked me through our holiday sales strategy sessions, group coaching sessions, that have come up. So these are questions that I’ve had– some of these are questions that I have had numerous times — so I know that they are popular questions.
The first thing I get asked about a lot are the holiday cards. “How many cards should I print? Who, who, who gets a card? How do I decide who I’m going to send a holiday card to?”
And the first thing I’m gonna say with this is, I want you to think first of all, because a lot of times what happens is people think, “I need to look at all my customers, I need to get a list of all my customers, and then order enough cards for how many customers I have.” And that’s actually not the best approach to that because holiday cards are part of your marketing strategy — it’s part of your communication strategy and as such, there should be a budget associated with that. So, before you even start worrying about a list, you wanna look at what you’re budgeted — what amount you have budgeted for cards. If you’ve not done this before, you probably have zero dollars budgeted for cards and that’s okay. You can work on your budget now and figure out “How much do I want to spend?”
Keep in mind that budget includes, if you’re doing custom printed cards, the printing, it includes the postage. Now you don’t have to do custom printed cards, you, by all means you can go to the retail locations stationary shop of your choice and order a box, or pick-up box cards. It doesn’t have to be a custom piece. However, because it’s early October, you definitely have the time to create a card, to go create your own card, go work on those graphic design skills, right? Go over on the PicMonkey, create a card, have that custom printed and now you’ve got a branded piece — when people get it in the mail, it will look like you.
I don’t mean literally look like you, unless that’s your brand! If your brand is literally you, well then all means, make it look like you! But you understand what I’m saying — so that it’s the card is in your brand. It’s in your branding, and has your fonts, it has your design ascetic.
So you have time now, because it’s so early, to do a custom printed card if you want to. But that’s something that, again, is dictated by budget. So you wanna start with the budget first. Figure out how much money you want to spend on the printing, and acquisition of the cards, plus the postage, and then build your list accordingly.
So as you get, as you’re figuring out in what the shipping, what the printing cost, rather, is going to be, or the acquisition cost and then postage, you can determine your list from that because, if you can only afford to send out 50 cards, versus if you can afford to send out 500 cards, your list, how you’re gonna prioritize your customers and your hostesses and everyone that’s done business with you in the past year — that’s going to change based on how, how big that list can be. But really, keep in mind that your holiday cards are determined by budget.
Now, while we’re talking about holiday cards, I have to tell you, this is a big, this is a — I’m gonna get out my soap box for one hot second here. Brenda’s not here, so I can — I can jump on the soapbox and I wanna talk about if you’re gonna send out holiday cards, you really wanna make sure that you are signing and personalizing each one. Because you probably get a big old stack of holiday cards — we all do! We get them from our insurance agent, and from, you know any — our dentist, and our doctor, and anyone we’ve done business with this past year. You get a pre-printed card and then the address label was stamped on the front. They may not have even stamped it, they could have sent it through a machine. It is not screaming, when you get that card, it does not say, “Wow, Dr. Smith really valued my — my Dr. Smith really values our relationship. Dr. Smith is really, you know, so happy to continue to provide me value; Dr. Smith loves serving me.” That’s not what you’re thinking, you’re thinking, “oh, okay another holiday card from some anonymous person.”
You, as a solopreneur, as a business-of-one, we are in the business of relationships, so it’s vital that if we are gonna go to the expense of sending out a holiday card, that we’re using that, to extend the relationship and really show the recipients that they matter, that they’re important to us, that we do value that relationship. And it can honestly be done in three sentences or less — including their name.
Dear Windy, hope you are having a wonderful holiday season. It was my pleasure serving you this past year. I hope you love your ” –whatever they purchased from you last — ” looking forward to serving you in 2019.
I can’t even say it, 2019! Gosh, it’s just gonna be here already.
So you’re really showing them, “hey, I remember that we did business this year. I remember who you are. You’re important to me.”
So personalizing the cards makes a really big difference. Now I can see you! Friend, I can see you on the other side of this podcast. I can see you looking at your phone, giving me side-eye and saying, “but Windy, I have a big list, I have a big budget, I’m gonna be sending out 250 cards! My hand will fall off if I sign all those cards.”
Well, not if you start now, right? By starting in October, by laying all this out now, you could sign and stuff three cards a night — do them after you do the dinner dishes, sit down at your desk and write out three cards a night — and you would have those done and in the mail well before your deadline. But if you wait until the, you know, the Thursday before they have to be in the mail on Friday, then yeah, your hand’s gonna cramp. But you wanna make sure that you’re personalizing it. And again, that’s another– that’s another case for starting sooner than later. So make sure you’re personalizing those cards if you’re sending them out.
The other thing you really wanna start thinking about now in early October, is you wanna start laying out what your plan is, your business plan, is for the last quarter. Because I said the holiday sales cycle, you know, the holiday season. But really the holiday Christmas is December 25th. There’s one week left of the year. So right now we’re really talking about what we’re — how we’re gonna finish up the fourth quarter of the year and what that activity looks like.
So, you wanna start planning — you wanna build out your plan now, so that you know — you can look at your calendar, you can look at your sales strategy, you know what your — your financial target is, because you’ve laid out your sales strategy, you know what your — what your goal is, what that dollar amount is that you’re working towards each month, and you can start laying out the activities that you’re going to do that lead up to that so that you’re making sure you’re very intentional with your time and that you know whatever your goal is, that you’ve actually allocated time for the activities that are gonna push you towards that goal.
You can’t — you can’t do that if you’re constantly in catch-up mode. But by looking at your calendar now and laying out the selling, I’m gonna say events, I don’t necessarily mean an — mean an event, but any of these sales activities that you’re going to be doing, whether it’s in a community, whether it’s a vendor event, whether it’s an in-home event, whatever it is but laying that out now and putting together a solid strategy and a solid plan to help you get there. So you wanna make sure that you’re working now — that you’re working backwards. That you’ve laid out your goal and you’re plugging in the dates and you’re plugging in your action plan now.
Now is also a great time to really start priming the pump in your community to getting them to start thinking about the holidays. And you could do that through humor, you can do that through conversation, you can do that through engagement graphics, utilizing your 3Ps, to kind of just start priming the pump so that people are thinking about the holidays that maybe you’re laying out if you know — and you may not know yet, any holiday shipping deadlines or new product that’s coming out for the holidays, but you can start weaving in some holiday content now, so that you’re building an arc that makes it when you get to the point where you are actively selling holiday gifts, that it’s not just out of left field, that people aren’t surprised. Because you’ve kind of been already talking about it. It’s kind of been in the periphery.
So start, you know, if you have a community group that you sell in or even it doesn’t have to be your community, it could really be any channel that you have. Whether that’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, anywhere that you’re active, but start incorporating some holiday-themed — not heavy, but lightly holiday content around the edges, so that you’re sort of building up to that.
And the last thing to really think about as we go into the holiday selling cycle: right now, if you’re not doing this already I hope you will consider doing this now all the time. But in particular this time of year, whenever someone makes a purchase, every single purchase, you should be asking the question: can I help you with any holiday shopping? And we’re so reluctant to ask that question, because someone just gave us their credit card, someone just made the purchase. And we feel like, what we feel like the other person is hearing is,”I want you to buy more things.” But friend, what they hear is, “can I save you a trip to the mall?” Because that’s what we’re all looking for. We’re all looking for convenience. We’re all looking for service. When you ask, “can I help you with your holiday shopping? Do you have any gifts that I can help you with?” You’re telling them, “I want to help you.”
So you want to make sure that you start using that in all of your sales conversations now, today, start today — asking that question. Do you any giving opportunities that I can help you with? Can I help you with your holiday shopping? Do you have any gifts that I could help you with? Incorporate that right now, because I promise you, come about the beginning of November, people are going to be like, “Oh yeah! Yeah, as a matter of fact, yeah definitely I do. Please save me from the mall.”
And then, really, if you are a listener of our podcast, you know how we feel about this. If you’re in our community, if you know Brenda and I at all, you know that we are firm believers that the fortune is in the follow-up. And right now, right now, early October is the time, it’s the ideal time, to start following up with all of your past customers. If you haven’t already been following up, it — fall on your sword, go ahead, fall in your sword — say, “you know, I should have followed up with you sooner. I’m so sorry I didn’t, but I am now.”
Follow up with them now, but get everyone in a cycle that you’re following up with them. Because now is the time that you wanna remind them that they’re — you’re in business. And if you — if you haven’t talked to someone — let’s say, hypothetically, someone made a purchase in June. Someone made a purchase early summer time, and you’ve never followed up with them and it’s early October. You could certainly reach out to them now and say, “hey I’m so sorry. I should have followed up with you four months ago. I’m trying to — I’m getting better. I’ve implemented some new — some new procedures to make sure that customers — valuable customers like you don’t fall through the cracks again. So I apologize, but I wanted to check in. Are you loving your product? Is there anything that I can — is there any way that I can help you right now?”
And they might not respond and that’s completely okay. But when you make that follow up now, when you follow up with them again in three weeks to a month — it’s not out of left field. And then when you follow up with them right before the holidays, to see if there’s any gift-giving opportunities that you can help them with, if there’s any last minute holiday gifts that they need that you can help them with, save them a trip to the mall it won’t feel like, “she only reaches out to me, when she wants to sell me something.” Right? So getting into that follow up now will save you from having it, sort of, fall on deaf ears. And having it feel kind of icky later.
But you’re not, you’re not, if you’re not doing follow up now — please start doing follow-up. Because we are in the business relationships and follow up — y’all, truthfully, if you know me at all, you know the two things that changed my business completely were follow up and funnel strategy. So make sure that you are following up with all of your customers, but particularly now get in a cycle of reaching out to everyone as we get into the holiday season.
Well, you guys I’ve enjoyed talking to you, solo. It feels a little weird, I’m not gonna lie, it’s a little weird to be here without Brenda. If you are, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, if you just stumbled upon this — hey, thanks for sticking around, thanks for listening! You should come join us over in the Socialite Suite, that is our free community on Facebook. About 104,000 thousand of your besties waiting to chat about social strategy with you. So, come on over and join us! That is thesocialitesuite.com, that is our Facebook page.
Thank you so much for tuning in guys. I will see you next time! Bye!