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Holiday Prep in July: Plan Now to Win Sales Later

By Alanna Vincent, Marketing Product Manager, Modern Postcard

Ah, the glorious days of summer. They’re made for fun in the sun, not preparing marketing plans for holiday celebrations and the busiest spending season of the year, right? We hate to break it to you, but if you’re a marketer or business owner, planning for winter promotions and your end-of-year sales push in July is not only normal, it’s proactive and smart. In fact, if you peeked inside our marketing department right now, you’d find our team as busy as Santa’s elves, prepping die-cut gingerbread greeting cards, 2019 calendar gifts and various holiday giveaways for customers.

Having helped thousands of clients for over 25 years, we can assure you that the most prosperous marketing campaigns geared toward consumers result from a solid vision, detailed plans and strategic timing. So, even if your plan isn’t fully baked, consider this your guide to get your strategy and concepts underway while you have optimum time.

1. PROMOTE EARLY: MAIL END OF OCTOBER
According to MasterCard Spending Pulse, heavy early-season promotions were successful in 2017 and resulted in a significant year over year increase during the first few weeks of November. Assuming the trend will hold true this year, below are some ideas to snag your share of the early holiday spend.

• Appeal to the planners
  • PRODUCT: Create a postcard mailer and send to a house list, targeted list or both.
  • OFFER: Encourage shopping with an early bird discount.
  • MESSAGING: Consider content that focuses on getting shopping completed ahead of time so consumers can avoid overspending at the last minute and ensure their gifts arrive in plenty of time. Plus, they can enjoy bonus savings with the aforementioned discount.
• Promote Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales
  • PRODUCT: Send a flat mailer plus follow-up email.
  • OFFER: Consider a free gift with purchase instead of a dollar amount off, or give a deep discount for the special day or entire weekend.
  • MESSAGING: Speak to hot products and services available, then play up the excitement and exclusive deals shoppers can get during these special days only.
  • FUN FACT: Prospect response rates from direct mail are 20% higher than email,* but we’ve found emails to be effective reminders in follow up to strong direct mail campaigns.
• Send a catalog highlighting top products and services for the season
  • PRODUCT: Mail out a booklet product or tri-fold sumo as a mini catalog.
  • OFFER: Include a few coupons or price decreases for select products.
  • MESSAGING: Identify top-selling products or services and any new items that may be great for gifting. The holidays are busy, so focus on making things easy and enjoyable for your audience.
  • FUN FACT: According to the DMA, catalogs are the number one driver to retail websites and stores.

2. PROMOTE OFTEN AT THE PEAK: MAIL MID-NOVEMBER

This push will support the bulk of the holiday shopping crowd. It’s important to stay top of mind with your clients and prospects who could be receiving competitor offers during the height of the season, so consider more than one option below. In addition, eye-catching graphics, stellar print quality and clear, desirable calls-to-action will help your business have the edge on the competition.

• Send a holiday card thanking valued clients
  • PRODUCT: Use a folded 5x7 greeting card and grab attention with a beautifully designed, printed envelope.
  • OFFER: Include 2-3 promotions that will spark your audience’s interest and consider longer expiration dates so clients have at least a month to redeem their offers.
  • MESSAGING: Create a holiday message that is on-brand and meaningful. Use humor or speak from the heart to thank clients for their loyalty and gift them with a reason to keep coming back.
• Holiday open house or festive soiree
  • PRODUCT: Invite VIP clients or new prospects to an event at your business using a flat self-mailer.
  • OFFER: Rather than including a discount offer, appeal to the philanthropists and set your company apart from the rest by donating a percentage of sales during your event to a cause that aligns with your business.
  • MESSAGING: Keep your copy clean and clear, make sure dates and locations are easy to identify, and be sure to highlight the charitable organization you’ve chosen.
  • ADD ON: Consider sending a direct mail or email follow-up to your event attendees that thanks them for their generosity and reports the total donation to the charitable organization.
  • FUN FACT: DMA marketing research shows that millennials want their purchases to contribute to the greater good, and therefore are more likely to do business with brands that give back.
• Send a gift to your top clients
  • PRODUCT: Develop a 12-month calendar for 2019 and mail it out in a full-color, printed envelope.
  • OFFER: Calendars are a great vehicle to keep offers front and center all year. Use monthly or quarterly incentives to keep clients happily engaged with your company from January through December.
  • DESIGN: While clients tend to appreciate any gesture of thanks, keep your audience in mind while developing the design so it appeals to the masses and is more likely to be used.

3. PROMOTE THE LAST-MINUTE PUSH: MAIL MID-DECEMBER
Last year, Super Saturday on December 23 was the second highest spending day of the year – topped only by Black Friday.** So don’t ease up on your holiday marketing efforts until after the new year. Instead, lean into the finish line for your best results.

• Appeal to the procrastinators
  • PRODUCT: Try a Sumo Size® self-mailer – it’s the largest postcard size that still mails at a letter rate! Since timing is important, you may consider sending this piece First Class to maintain more control of the in-home date. Our Direct Marketing Specialists are happy to provide advice on postage rates based on your needs.
  • OFFER: Since time is of the essence, offer a flat discount with a short-fused timeline. This type of offer should light a fire under your audience to get their last minute purchases made before time runs out.
  • MESSAGING: Drive home the fact that it’s not too late to compete your holiday shopping and save big while doing so. Phrases like “hurry, last chance, don’t miss out” paired with the expiration date can also help create a sense of urgency.
• Last-minute extended sale to support a direct mail piece
  • PRODUCT: Create an email blast that complements your existing direct mail campaign.
  • OFFER: Simply extend the current-running offer to get more activity out of the promotion.
  • MESSAGING: Offer extensions tend to be well-received since they provide one last chance for your audience to take advantage of the killer deal. Clients who meant to order, but didn’t get the chance, will be breathing a sigh of relief when they receive this email.
• Ring in the New Year and fresh sales
  • PRODUCT: Custom products – such as special coating, foil or die cutting – have proven to grab attention. Punch up your last mailer of the year with something glitzy and glamorous for 2019.
  • MESSAGING: Stick with a celebratory tone and send cheers to the New Year – it’s a great opportunity to start fresh. Consider introducing new programs that incent clients to stay with you throughout 2019 and beyond.
  • • PROGRAMS:
    • Loyalty Programs: from punch cards to earning points, loyalty programs can truly make clients feel valued. If you don’t already have one, start brainstorming now so you are ready to roll it out as 2019 rolls in.
    • Birthday Clubs: Send your clients and prospects special birthday wishes and exclusive discounts or freebies during their birthday month.

We know it’s hard to break away from summer fun to focus on your next winter wonderland of promotions, but trust us, we also know what a well-planned holiday marketing season looks like. Get the best results by starting now!

Our Direct Marketing Specialists would be happy to consult with you to turn your thoughts into an action plan. Call 800.959.8365 to get an effective jump on your holiday marketing.

*DMA
**MasterCard SpendingPulse

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I'm an amateur photographer in Brooklyn. My neighbors love my Brownstone neighborhood photos, and this year I took the leap and started a small greeting card business using my photos! At first, the process seemed intimidating, but the customer service at Modern made it easy. I used the phone and email for help, and everyone was very nice, professional and supportive. The finished product speaks for itself...the cards are gorgeous! I am using them for my personal holiday cards, as well as selling them online and in small local businesses. I can't wait to prepare my second set of photo cards with Modern Postcard.
Edie Hoffmann