Now is the time to plan your holiday marketing campaign to achieve maximum results
Summer has barely breathed its last breath and the words “holiday marketing” are already finding their way into our business plans. It’s one thing for retailers to light up the Christmas trees and start playing Bing Crosby earlier and earlier, but in terms of strategically scheduling your holiday marketing campaign, it’s never too early.
As business owners, getting out in front of the mad holiday rush is key to capturing your clients’ attention. Waiting until the last minute will mean you’re competing with other companies who might be offering good deals, but not the tailored personalized service you can provide to your loyal clients. Strategizing now for promotions, mailings, calendars and holiday cards will make this holiday season a little less stressful, but assuredly more fruitful in terms of booking business.
Whether you’re looking to completely overhaul your current holiday marketing strategy, or you just want to add a few new techniques, here are some tried-and-true methods that will get your phones ringing without busting the budget.
What Should I Do in September and October?
Fall is a good time to collect as much data as possible in regards to local events in your community or nearby cities. You’ll want to know the where and when of holiday concerts, Christmas tree lightings, house tours, shopping excursions, plays and more. Plot these events on a master calendar, not only to keep for yourself, but to share with clients. E-blasts are a great way to communicate these dates with clients, and you can include them on your company website. This allows you to become the go-to source for upcoming events, saving customers the time of searching on their own. Share a master calendar in September, and then as events approach, you can tailor each e-blast to promote them individually. Think about the things that your clients will be most interested in, and then carefully construct a plan for the services you can offer to coincide with them, but without overwhelming their inboxes.
For instance, if The Nutcracker, a family favorite, is coming to your city for a limited time, the tickets are going to be sold out way in advance, meaning people will already be thinking about transportation. Create a special message that promotes your company’s ability to take the whole family to the event in luxury, without worrying about parking or walking several blocks in the cold. Make sure to remind them that you’ll be waiting with a warm car when the show ends (especially for those in the Northeast).
Shoppers in your client list will love to hear about the ways you can make holiday gift-buying less stressful. Take this opportunity to grab that Black Friday business by offering special transportation for groups small and large. Most people can’t stand the parking at malls and outlet stores, or needing to bring two cars to fit the whole family plus the shopping bags. You can solve all their problems, right? Tell them that. Show them your fleet of vehicles.
Tell them how you can give them a comfortable ride to any shopping destination, and even play their favorite holiday movie on the way if they like. Remind them through a strategic advertisement, on-hold message, in-vehicle flier or e-blast that they can shop ‘til they drop and won’t need to drive home.
September and October are also good months to think about the holiday cards you’re going to send to clients and colleagues—whether digital or traditional print. Getting in ahead of the mad rush of orders will guarantee your cards are in your hands and ready to be sent. One tip is to think about sending greeting cards for Thanksgiving or New Year to set your card apart from the pack and ensure it gets noticed by valued clients.
What Should I Do in November?
This month is ideal for direct mailing campaigns. You’ve prepped the clients with non-intrusive emails, letting them know about the exciting holiday events taking place, and now is the time to get your branding physically into their hands.
We recommend mailing items out to clients right around Thanksgiving, since this is when plans really start to take shape. Plant the seed that events are coming fast, and planning ahead will relieve some of the stress that could result from scrambling for last-minute transportation to entertainment venues, holiday parties or dinners. Post cards could include promotional codes that will encourage them to call in, or a QR code to bring them to a specific landing page on your website, with holiday specials allowing you to track what is working for your company. Try offering a percentage off the trip or maybe complimentary egg nog when they book one of your holiday tours.
As mentioned earlier, holiday greeting cards should be ordered by now, if you plan to mail them about two weeks before Christmas. Thanking customers for their business throughout the year is not something to skip. In recent years, companies have been switching to digital e-cards as they shift to more eco-friendly paper policies, and many clients enjoy doing business with companies who are doing so. This is also a more cost-conscious method.
For operators who like the traditional route of mailing a quality card that clients will hang on to for a few weeks, there are many options available that will represent your company’s brand while also keeping with the sentiments of the holiday season.
Offering a gift program for your top-tier clients is another strategy to consider for your holiday marketing plans. These accounts are what made your business so successful, and you don’t want to let it go unnoticed. The options run the gamut from sending a gift basket or rewarding them with tickets to a local entertainment venue, to offering a gift card for their next airport pickup or upgrading their vehicle. It’s a special way to reinforce the relationship you have with these clients and go into the New Year on a high note.
What Should I Do in December?
The holiday season is in full swing, now. Company parties, family shopping trips, concerts in the city, holiday light tours—there is an endless stream of reasons people should be using your transportation services. But the number one reason is safety.
One thing that is practically guaranteed during the holidays is the amount of drinking going on in restaurants, bars and offices across the U.S. There is a high risk of getting a DUI, not to mention the risk of hurting someone else if you get behind the wheel after having a few too many. Some people might think chauffeured transportation is too expensive, but there are ways to market your service to help them realize that the advantages far outweigh the cost.
You will want to encourage your corporate account holders to provide transportation for their employees for their company holiday parties. It’s the night when everyone wants to let loose, but there can be serious consequences if an employee leaves a company party and gets into an accident. By providing transportation in your shuttles or motorcoaches, everyone can get to and from the party safely.
For families and even groups of friends who are hitting the town for the holidays and New Year, your high-end limobuses or SUVs are extremely economical. Remind these customers that the cost will be split among all of the passengers, and you can provide multi-stop service to wherever they plan on celebrating. Your marketing materials can spell out the cost of your service compared to the cost of someone losing a license, paying for an attorney, or regretting a decision for the rest of their lives.
The holidays are a special time in everyone’s lives, and as a business owner, it’s a critical time to market your company’s wide variety of services. Through solid pre-planning and targeted campaigns that will attract key clientele, your company will solidify relationships with loyal customers, generate revenue for the last quarter, and ensure that everyone has a safe holiday season. // LD
Contributed by Arthur Messina
Arthur Messina is the founder and president of Create-A-Card, Inc., the leading chauffeured transportation marketing firm, which he began in 1986. Messina has served on the board of the National Limousine Association, is a current board member of the Minority Limousine Operators of America, has been a featured speaker at industry trade shows, and is a frequent sponsor at local association meetings and events. He also is co-founder and managing director of Driving Results, a consulting firm for the ground transportation industry that began in 2011. He can be reached at (631) 584-2273 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.