Many Internet marketing writers will be sharing with you all sorts of great and creative ideas for getting your business ready for the holiday season. Listen to them! You should already be listing like crazy, putting your listings in your eBay Store, getting them ready to pull out into the main search, fine-tuning your Terms of Service to include phenomenal customer service like gift wrapping and planning your go-in-the-box extra goodies. Those are all good and sensible points to talk about for holiday sales.
But there are some nuances of this coming holiday season that could propel you above your competition and increase your profits. There are clear signs emerging that this holiday season may not be white, but a bright green—of the money variety. Sales are going down in brick-and-mortar shops, but as early indicators are showing, the profits online are going up. That's great news for us online sellers.
However, for these marketing ideas to work, you have to keep in mind your buyers' motivation. If you can fulfill that motivation, you will create sales and repeat customers.
Some of the perennial motivators of holiday buyers include:
- Time: Buyers are very busy, and they're looking to online sellers to help them save time. Offer gift wrapping, expedited shipping and help with their entire holiday list.
- Clarity: Buyers don't want to have to think about what to get Uncle Ted or their niece Josie. So you need to tell them what to purchase by using "Top" lists. Provide "Top 10" lists of gift ideas on your custom pages, eBay Store home page, in your promotion box area and in your newsletter. These might include the Top 10 hottest selling toys, the Top 10 gift ideas for your office mates or the Top 10 gift ideas for your Jewish friends.
Too many sellers don't even have a marketing plan, much less a focused one
By the way, I'm a big shopper from "Top" lists. If you tell me others are buying it, I'm much more inclined to not spend another 25 minutes browsing through your site for something better. Notice how Amazon very effectively employs this technique through its best-selling lists on the home page of each category!
However, due to economic shifts, there are even more motivators that your buyers will be having this holiday season. Here's my "Top" list of three things to consider as you fine-tune your holiday marketing plan:
Create a goal for your holiday marketing. Too many sellers don't even have a marketing plan, much less a focused one. They throw a lot of listings out to the world of eBay, and hope they get snatched up in the ensuing holiday buying frenzy. Buyers, as mentioned above, would rather be told what to do during this busy time. Create your marketing with a very clear call to action.
Some goals might include:
- Driving traffic to your eBay Store. What copy and graphics do you need to prepare now to create urgency when buyers land on your home page?
- Getting people signed up on your newsletter. Why sell to them once when they could receive your newsletter, and you could sell to them over and over again?
- Creation of urgent sales. Run 24-hour-only sales. Release special Buy It Nows every Wednesday leading up to December. (Promote these through your newsletter).
- Holding exclusive sales. Let your potential buyers know through your home page and promotional boxes that they will receive exclusive sales only if they're on your newsletter list. Offer special holiday pricing, free shipping and gift wrap and two-for-one deals.
Too often, marketing plans only focus on the immediate event. Don't forget to plan for the future opportunities you could capitalize on during the holidays. Do you have a plan to get customers to come back in January? A newsletter? Perhaps a coupon that's only good after Jan. 1? Don't do all of this hard work to acquire new customers and then let the momentum stop on Dec. 31.
Offer opportunities for people to buy gifts and get something for themselves
This holiday season's predictions are that people are going to be loosening up their purse strings. Let's be honest, all of us are getting tired of having to "go without." Keeping this in mind, offer opportunities for people to buy their holiday gifts for the special people on their lists and get something for themselves as well.
I just saw this done very successfully with an artist I follow. His promotion offered a limited edition canvas print for $150. But then went on to say that everyone who purchased one in the next 24 hours would also receive a free lithograph of their choice. He mentioned you would easily be getting your holiday shopping done before the rush and a gift for your walls as well. Brilliant—a sense of urgency, timely completion of a purchase and a self-satisfaction bonus for the buyer.
Be thinking, what could you include for the seller to satisfy them? Check your profit margins… can you afford to offer a two-for-one sale? How about "buy one, get one 50 percent off?"
Watch this year's holiday calendar very carefully. Although Black Friday is a static date on the marketing calendar (the Friday after Thanksgiving), as is Cyber Monday (the Monday after Black Friday), the crucial date you need to realize is what day of the week Christmas falls on. Why? Well, if it falls on a Monday or Tuesday, you will probably lose almost five to six days of selling, because, in a buyer's mind, the cutoff for shopping online would be the Tuesday before Christmas.
Luckily, this year, Christmas is on a Friday—woo hoo! That means that you can expect buyers to purchase from you straight through that weekend and into the first part of the week. Be prepared for a heavy shopping weekend the 19th and 20th with some very busy shipping days for Monday, and possibly Tuesday for those last-minute buyers.
Create marketing proposals that will create a sense of urgency with your buyers
What promotions could you offer during this last week? Expedited shipping, definitely, but you'll also want to make it clear you offer gift-wrapping services and direct-shipping to the gift recipient.
Also, although promotions for the holidays traditionally start on Black Friday, recent research finds that, especially in the gift arenas, buyers respond to marketing about a week before that. What marketing push could you have ready by Nov. 20? How about a "get your shopping done before the rush so you can relax next weekend" marketing pitch?
Based upon previous holiday sales reports, Cyber Monday for online sellers is finally catching up to the dollar level of Black Friday. They know that sales spikes happen at specific times on Cyber Monday. These include before people head to work in the morning, at lunchtime and that evening as well (Guess they didn't get enough of shopping over the weekend).
Don't just passively make sure you have listings up at that time. Go after these key buying times by creating marketing proposals that will create a sense of urgency with your buyers.
The best marketing plan you could ever create would be one in which you completely understand what your buyers' needs are, and fulfill them. How will you claim your share of the green this holiday season?