Christmas is 26 Fridays Away. Really.
It’s July and the Hallmark Channel is introducing the 2015 Christmas Ornament so you know it’s time for your holiday marketing checklist. You should be planning for a great 4th quarter (or 5th quarter if you are in the gift business) because the general outlook is in your favor.
- Consumer Confidence is up, and consumers are expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months
- No national election to wreak havoc with November mailings
- 28 selling days between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve (inclusive.) Last year had 27 days.
- There are 4 weekends (same as last year)
- Christmas is on a Friday, so Thursday delivery is welcomed
- Hanukkah begins on Dec 6th (Dec 17 last year)
Here are three ways to help ensure a better performing season:
- Talk to your shipping company and find out when they are cutting off ground service for December 24th delivery, then determine when your customer needs to place orders. Use this information to:
- Schedule email deployment and message accordingly
- Develop promotions for the front and back cover of your catalog (use black plate changes to save some serious cash) to prompt customers
- Provide “order now, ship later” promotions to entice customers to buy now with the convenience of holiday delivery
- While you’re talking to your shipping company, find out which day will be last day for overnight delivery. Why? Because customers will pay to have a gift delivered overnight—especially when they are out of time.
- Message: “there’s still time”
- Message: “order by X today and it will delivery tomorrow’
- Message: “your gift will arrive tomorrow”
And did you notice, none of those messages require any discounts or margin erosion? WOW!
- Look at your order data from last year. Find customers who ordered early and make sure you are in front of them early! Two of the best promotions that I’ve seen are:
- Message: “order now, pick your ship date”
- Message: “order now, and you’ll receive a $X-off toward your next purchase”
If you can offer free shipping (or shipping for $1, or a promotional flat rate of $x.xx) when a customer orders now and chooses their delivery date for later, it allows you to pick and pack the order when you’re not in crunch time. The nice bonus with this type of promotion is that you’ll likely see an increase in items per order as well as an increase of gift recipients, plus the customer will likely choose you again later in the season.
Here are three tests to think about this year in 2015 to help you plan better in 2016:
- Test a small quantity for a very late in-home date. See how late you can go. Since you probably already email until the last moment (think about the email clutter you receive and ignore!) put a catalog in-home. We’re all seeing closest to the time of need is when orders explode.
- Test an in-home date around Thanksgiving. With the 2016 Presidential Election next year on November 8th, it’s important to understand now the holiday timing for next year.
- If you don’t currently offer free shipping, test a product (or product combination) and sell it at a price that includes shipping. At the end of the season, you’ll have a data point to understand the customer’s sensitivity to a price point, the overall appeal of this idea, and the financials to determine if it’s a good business decision.
Calling all Marketers! It’s Christmas in July. Get Going!
Dean of Marketing, CatalogUniversity.com
President, Hemisphere Marketing, LLC