By Mike Auger
The reaction of many people when they see Christmas merchandise and holiday decorations in stores as early as September is something like, “I cannot believe Christmas stuff is out already. It is not even Thanksgiving!” There is a good reason, however, that Costco, Home Depot, Wal-Mart and many other big box stores begin marketing their seasonal wares in early fall. The big players would not maintain this approach if it did not pay off, as these stores monetize every square foot of retail space, and the return on investment has to be there. As an independent retailer, if you do not market your seasonal goods early in the season as well, the holiday sales boat may sail without you.
Target early buyers with programs and discounts
So who are these early buyers and what can it mean for your business? This buying segment tends to plan and budget more effectively than consumers who make their purchases on the 22nd of December and beyond. If you simply take the two adjectives, plan and budget, you end up with some very simple directives to attract buyers to your store. First, target consumers who plan, and therefore are ready to buy early in the shopping season, with specific programs. These consumers also budget, and in buying early in the shopping season they expect discounts. As savvy independent retailers, you understand that discounts are relative to the person who is doing the marketing, so be creative with your offerings without giving away all of your profit margins.
Below is sample ad copy, to give you an idea how you can address this customer segment. This copy would be used in your Google Adwords program.
Early Christmas Discounts
100 percent satisfaction guaranteed
We attract the audience with the word “Christmas,” and early discounts and guarantees fit the budget element. Mix up your ad copy, but be sure to address both sides of this customer profile.
Purchase deadline is strong buying trigger
For those of you that do consistent email marketing and struggle with new and creative messaging, this is a great opportunity to leverage early shopping for big gains. Create a program that will run for ten weeks, from early September to Thanksgiving. Use a countdown concept that offers discounts with each message, but let the customer base know the savings will come to an end. Purchase deadlines are a strong buying trigger. With this type of program, you essentially create the first half of your holiday marketing season, and start another one that is much more traditional on Black Friday.
Though traditional retailers’ “make or break” time of the year is the month prior to Christmas, it is not necessarily the most profitable. The sheer volume of sales that occur in this small window of time put tremendous pressure on the margins of the business. You know you will be part of the craziness that starts on Black Friday, so it makes good business sense to target the people who will finish their shopping before Thanksgiving as well.