Quick Holiday Marketing Tactics

Did the busy holiday season sneak up on you this year? Here are a few ideas from a Chief Marketing Officer that can help boost sales quickly during the holiday season.

Quick Holiday Marketing Tactics

Photo credit: John Hafner

The holidays are here, and maybe the sales kick-off is not what you had hoped. Did the busy season sneak up on you this year? Didn’t make any plans, run any sales or host any big Black Friday events?

There’s still time to give sales a boost before the end of the year. Here are a few ideas from a Chief Marketing Officer that can help boost sales quickly during the holiday season.

Staff Training — Believe or not, frustrated customers who come to a store and can or cannot find what they want quickly have the biggest impact on sales. Sales staff should always be prepared to answer the number one question from customers, “Where can I find…?” and know the location of products in the store. During the holidays, host a pre-first shift and pre-second shift meeting each day with all floor staff, including cashiers, on what the deals are and where they are located in the store. A simple “Did you know we also have X on sale today?” comment to customers by the cashier team can boost sales drastically.

A simple emailed deal sheet and location information distributed daily to the floor staff can have a huge impact on sales. Also pay close attention to the noted location of the deals on the floor if you move inventory around to stacks or end-caps. The last thing you want is a salesperson wasting customers’ time searching for the deal.

Load the Checkout Area —  Every retailer attempts to get customers out the door as quickly as possible, however, lines inevitably form during the checkout process, and this is a great place to stock $10 and under items, even if they are not on sale. Foam earplugs, inexpensive eye protection, rimfire ammo, camo hand sanitizer and AR-15 mags are easy things every retailer can have a small display of near the checkout. A few steps back from the cashier area is a good place for high stacks of larger-sized items such as ammo boxes, coolers and ammo pallets. One trick is to fill the bottom layer with empty product boxes. This gets the product higher up to eye level and prevents customers from stooping down to shop.

Sale vs Really on Sale — There’s a joke in retail that everything is always on sale and sometimes it is “really on sale.” The holidays are one time to pull out the On Sale tags. If it is even slightly discounted from retail price, you can list the product as on sale. Featuring window and store signage that says “Everything on Sale” with highlighted super-special sales deals is a great way to generate urgency during the sales dip right after Black Friday. Find a local sign company that will print general all-season “sale” signs in reusable vinyl window clings and hangable ceiling banners.

Wish List Business Cards — Business cards are super cheap, very easy to customize and quick to make thanks to companies like VistaPrint and Moo. Consider printing extra-large logo-ed and branded Wish List Cards. Print business contact information on one side with a blank list on the back where a salesperson can write out what a buyer wants, including model and price. The buyer can give that to their loved ones to assure everything is easy for the holiday buyer. Printed material has a higher marketing value than digital, is retained longer and has been shown to have a higher sales conversion than digital. For under $50, it’s worth a shot.

Big Sales Deals Tags — The customer will never know that you have the best deal around on a rifle, scope and ring combo if they never have the opportunity to hear about it. Make sure these types of items are tagged with large “Special Combo Price” tags. This should be easy to print and make with just a hole punch and printer. A web search for “Printed Sales Tags” will showcase a huge number of inexpensive tagging option, including custom designs. Concentrate on tag designs that can be reused year round and can be ordered in larger and lower-cost bulk.

Sales Dump Bins —  Clear out all that old inventory. There is always a certain type of customer who loves to rummage through random product sales dump bins. Just take all those unboxed returns, one-only and random items and price them at a deep discount and load up the dump bins. Anything can be used as a dump bin, from large empty ammo crates to shopping carts. You will be shocked how many products you sell with a simple “clearance” sign on the dump bins.

Unadvertised Specials — Many companies have MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) restrictions, however, an acceptable workaround during the holidays is to have a special in-store-only discounted price. Many smaller retailers have had significant success with a limited-time, limited-quantity sale of MAP-restricted items during the holidays. This is a great add-on sales tool for sellers to be able to offer a rifle and typically MAP-price optic for a deep discount. Many manufacturers will also offer limited MAP holidays during the holiday period if a certain purchase is made.

Builder Showcase — If customers see the cool products, they want them. Many dealers I have talked with have talked about how one or two customer rifles on a prominent display surrounded by the parts used on the rifle have delivered a huge sales jump. Similarly, if your shop offers custom Cerakote, a simple display with the cost of the coating is a great way to fill the Cerakote production calendar. These guns with a few good social media and email-ready pictures can be good teasers to get customers in the store to see the custom guns.

Email Marketing — It’s time again to fire up that MailChimp or Constant Contact account and engage customers at least twice a month during the holidays. Great deals, events and even how-to articles featuring new or hot-selling products are great ways to get customers in the store. How-to video and articles that target the AR/modern sporting rifle builder are great ways to generate traffic for all those little billet parts that deliver high margin and are great stocking stuffers from the spouse.

Social Media Posts — Most businesses forget to duplicate all those great offers and deals and list them in their social media. Some social media outlets are cracking down on non-paid business accounts, so be aware that some social outlets may charge you for posting business-related advertising and offers. Pictures of new products just in are always great non-sales ways to engage with customers. There is a segment of customers who always want the latest and greatest first.

Engaging Local Clubs — Many local outdoor-related clubs in your area offer free or very low-cost advertising to their members via their newsletter or other means. The recommendation is to go big and offer exclusive discounts, but make them worthwhile and limited quantity. This is a great way to move a lot of inventory.

Gifts Under $20 Display — For those shopping for their beloved who rarely visit your store, make it really easy for them with a display of $20-and-under items. Offering some themes for the handgunner, fisherman, rifle shooter and competitor, plus some universal products, delivers a nice purchase story that could add up to four or five different items. These displays are sometimes referred to as gateway displays because non-customers will start there and then end up elsewhere in the store. Good, knowledgeable sales staff should help non-customers quickly find what they are looking for elsewhere in the store. Make sure your social media posts and emails reflect that it is easy to get in and out quickly, and also ensure that message is easily forwardable/shareable by your target customer. If you make it easy to share the message from customer to the buyer and easy for the buyer to come in and purchase, this will be a go-to shopping spot each year for net new customers.

Holiday Events — Generally, sitting-on-Santa’s-lap events do not generate many sales, however, working with distributor and manufacturer reps can deliver big sales. Holiday demo days and events paired with super-special deals or MAP holidays on those products featured during the event are great ways to generate traffic and close larger sales quickly, and they can even be an opportunity to generate secondary sales. Oddly, after-hours technical product Q&As with experts have a large attendance paired with special offers or pre-sales non-stocked deals. There is a segment of customers who want to know all the technical details of how things work and love these events.

About the Author

Tony Arnold is an awarded chief marketing officer and marketing strategy thought leader with more than 20 years of database marketing experience in global Fortune-level corporations, including Sears, IBM and HP. Over his career, Arnold was an Inc Magazine Web Strategy Award Winner, launched the second e-commerce site in history, developed the largest retail CRM system processing 25B customer contacts yearly, and has developed, created and managed database marketing systems that have generated approximately $57B in revenue over his career.


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