â€śWhile the timelines of retailers are different compared to b-to-b, you can still reach out and influence the buying cycle with holiday marketing,â€ť said Huw Griffiths, director of marketing with e-mail marketing solutions provider Campaigner Email Marketing, which on Nov. 4 will co-sponsor with the American Marketing Association a webinar titled â€śThe Final Stretch: E-mail Marketing Tips to Ramp Up Holiday Revenue.â€ť
â€śIf youâ€™re not reaching out, you can assume all your competitors will be,â€ť he added. â€śHoliday marketing is not the sole domain of the retail world.â€ť
Griffiths provided these tips to help you jump-start your own holiday marketing program.
̶ Take the opportunity to say thanks. Those companies with longer buying cycles that canâ€™t offer special holiday promotions can still take advantage of the season, Griffiths said. â€śYou can say thanks for the business to existing customers and send best greetings for the season to prospects,â€ť he said.
Itâ€™s also a smart time to reach out and ask customers and prospects for more information, such as demographic and purchasing data, and ask what both groups think about your products and services.
̶ Capture the â€śuse-it-or-lose-itâ€ť crowd. Those companies that have already allocated money for 2008 spending but havenâ€™t made purchases will be itching to spend what they have left. Thatâ€™s why a promotion with a Dec. 31 expiration date may help shake dollars out of their pockets and into yours, Griffiths said.
̶ Give e-mail recipients your update. You probably get them every year: holiday cards that detail a friendâ€™s or relativeâ€™s activities during the past 12 months. Companies can do this, too, and improve usage of other marketing vehicles such as blogs or other social media offerings. â€śItâ€™s a great way to point people in the direction and create trust,â€ť Griffiths said.
You can ask people to comment on your company and point them to a product review page where they can post their thoughts. You could also highlight a recent blog and provide a link so people can comment on that, he said. â€śDonâ€™t think of social media as an alternative or something thatâ€™s in competition with your e-mail marketing,â€ť he said. â€śItâ€™s just one of the segments in the overall marketing channel.â€ť
̶ Ask recipients to update their preferences. The end of the year often means new goals and a new business focus. In this business climate, someone may be putting off a purchase until the second or third quarter of 2009. They should be able to stay on your e-mail list but receive better targeted messages. Asking everyone to update their preferences and select variables such as frequency and interests can help them do just that, Griffiths said. â€śUnless you do this, youâ€™re just shooting in the dark,â€ť he said.