Well, it’s that time of year again. The busy holiday season is fast approaching. The fourth quarter represents a huge opportunity for many of us, which can mean increased sales… if you are prepared to be as effective as you can be! It’s important to get organized, set goals, and stay in contact with your customers. We also have a few things to keep in mind that you might find helpful:
Review your customer list
Creating a list of your repeat customers and new prospects will help eliminate the accidently-forgotten prospect. For repeat clients, ask yourself if they tend to purchase similar gifts every year, or if they like to switch things up. Do they tend to stick with a similar quantity and budget from year to year? This will allow you to approach them with ideas that are right up their alley!
Make sure you are equipped with marketing tools
Many suppliers will provide you with a multitude of sales tools to present to your customers. Take advantage of them! Catalogs are a great the first step. As we stated in a previous blog, 91% of recipients take action as a result of a product they noticed in a catalog, with nearly half purchasing an ad specialty item. At Maple Ridge Farms, we recommend ordering two catalogs for every client on your “A” list. You can send one early in the season (usually in August and September). Chances are you will need to get a second catalog in their hands by November, for those customers that are still making decisions.
(Tip: Many suppliers, like Maple Ridge Farms, offer their catalogs with your contact information printed on them. This is a great way to remind your customers who to call when they have questions or are ready to place their order.)
Another key tool for your fourth quarter sales: Samples, samples, samples! Many buyers are more inclined to make a decision if they can see (or in the case of Maple Ridge Farms’ delicious gourmet treats, taste) the products they are interested in. Samples are often available with random imprints, and many companies will offer Virtual Samples at no charge. More impressive are physical Spec(ulative) Samples with your customer’s logo — the “big box” stores can’t offer that! Check with your suppliers for their sample policies.
(Tip: Many suppliers run specials for Self-Promotion, offering discounts on products carrying your imprint. Self-Promotion items are a great way to get samples into your customers’ hands along with a reminder of your pro-active service!)
With the increasingly competitive marketplace, many suppliers offer discounts and special promotions for the holiday season. It’s important to know what’s available to pass along to your customers, as well as each program’s guidelines (such as promotion deadline and any restrictions that may apply). Mapping out this information simply for your customers will help keep them on track. When they know they could save by placing their order by a certain date (with your helping to remind them), they often discern the incentive of making a decision early.
Getting organized and setting goals will facilitate progress throughout the hectic season, and help to remove the chance of things getting missed. Here is basic timetable we have found helpful through the years:
August: It’s a great time to start ordering samples and catalogs.
September: With samples and catalogs ready, it’s time to get them into the
customers’ hands. It’s the perfect time to begin sending your
own marketing e-blasts and newsletters, as well as scheduling
tasting sessions and passing along discount information.
October: Touch base with the customers who have not placed their orders yet.
Make sure they have everything they need to make a decision.
November: Half of all holiday food gift orders are placed between November
10th and December 10th. That is only a thirty day window! Now is
the time to be more insistent with your follow-up. Remind those
haven’t ordered that they can avoid high air freight charges
if they act swiftly!
(Tip: Check with your suppliers. Some, like Maple Ridge Farms,
offer “Quick Ship” options and various rush services.)
Communication is key when working with your customers throughout the entire year, however it is crucial during the second half of the year. The marketplace will be inundated with options for year-end gifting. Connecting with your customers early and often will remind them that you are undeniably their best resource to satisfy their gift-giving needs.
For further tips, sample and literature options, and a great Marketing Calendar from Maple Ridge Farms, contact our team of Gift Specialists.