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It’s not too early to think about Christmas sales

It’s not even Halloween and I’m already thinking Christmas? I didn’t mean to, but right next to the Halloween costumes and candy at our local Target is — you guessed it — everything from Christmas tree lights to model gingerbread houses.

Well, if Target’s marketing gurus know October is time to get Christmas promotion underway, it’s a good bet forward-thinking boat dealers should be, too. Or, at the very least, it’s time to call the staff in and plan Christmas if you want to cash in on this year’s predicted increase in holiday spending that will result from low gas prices and more spending cash in consumer pockets.

There’s no surprise the holidays are a great time to market and connect with customers. They’re in a good mood and receptive, for example, to gift suggestions, discounts and promotions. And there’s a “whole lotta spending goin’ on!” The trick is to get them to spend some with you.

Here, then, are some considerations gleaned from marketing experts to get the planning rolling:

  1. Get the team involved: The best ideas will likely come from your staff. Perhaps each department can come up with a gift idea that customers can purchase, say a gift from the captain to his first mate or vice-versa. How about water sports items for the teens? Or branded clothing items for the whole crew? You’ll come up with many more ideas. Getting your team involved can really boost your Christmas campaign’s results.
  2. Analyze last year’s holiday results: It’s important to look back. For example, when did the majority of your holiday sales success occur? Was it from email marketing, organic website traffic, perhaps a paid search or social media? If it was successful, it’s the definite starting point for Christmas promotion(s) in 2015.
  3. Set up your holiday email-marketing campaign: Virtually every dealer relies mostly on email marketing. However, holiday email offers should be different than any traditional email campaigns. For example, you might be emailing customers every few weeks on a traditional schedule. But the Christmas window is open for a relatively short time. So, given some well-thought-out holiday products and offers, you will want to step things up. Remember, consumers are in the buying mood at holiday time — wait too long you and lose the customer to someone else that reached them sooner. All experts agree slapping together a bunch of emails at the last minute is a ticket to bad conversion numbers, but a good plan with steady execution can be a winner.
  4. A mobile-friendly website: I don’t want to believe most dealers haven’t upgraded their websites to be mobile-friendly, but I suspect many haven’t. And I’m no expert on what’s involved in getting it done. That said, however, every expert holds that websites need to be mobile-friendly today so it needs attention now, whether a Christmas promotion(s) is in your plan or not. Running your website through Google’s mobile-friendly test might be a great place to check. Moreover, realize Christmas shoppers want to buy, so it’s critical to make sure they don’t get frustrated trying to use your website.
  5. A campaign to share: Studies indicate that, as consumers, a whopping 74 percent of us rely on word-of-mouth as the No. 1 tool to influence buying decisions. With that in mind, it’s important to keep the campaign easy to understand so recipients, preferably with one click, can share it with other family members, boating friends, etc. Put another way, when someone receives some information from a friend, it multiplies the impact tenfold.
  6. Remember Black Friday and Cyber Monday: They’re barely a month away. The fact is literally millions of consumers will shop online on Black Friday (Nov. 27). Last year, a handsome $1.5 billion was spent online on Black Friday alone. Good marketers run countdowns, contests and other attractors leading up to Black Friday. Similarly, Cyber Monday (Nov. 30 — just 34 days away) is an equally great opportunity to cash in. Marketers using online techniques often change the deals from Friday to Monday.
  1. The social media aspect: Finally, if you utilize social media regularly in your dealership marketing, it’s another way to drive traffic to your website or to direct followers to great Christmas deals. Holiday specific images, special Christmas messages and hashtags are important.

It’s a time when people are looking for holiday ideas and deals, so good offers transmitted at the right time can make the cash register ring. Plan now.


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