However, according to a recent report by the National Retail Federation (NRF), the average American is planning to spend $749.51 this holiday season – only nine dollars more than last year.
The NRF goes on to state that consumers have adapted to the “new normal” of the sluggish economy and are less likely to buy on impulse and are more likely to spend within their budgets, use coupons and look for deals.
Smart holiday marketeers – henceforth known as “smarketeers” – recognize these economic pressures on consumers and can leverage the following three tips to help turn this humbug reality into a prosperous New Year.
Going Mobile – Without All the Crowds
According to research by Morgan Stanley more than 91 percent of U.S. adults have access to a cell phone 24 hours, seven days a week. Compared to push marketing efforts that rely on televisions or desktop computer within consumers’ homes, this mobile “third screen” is ripe for “smarketeers” looking for impact and customer conversion while consumers are actually in stores shopping.
Mobile electronic couponing is ideally suited for hurried holiday customers. In fact, recent statistics find that the redemption rate of coupons pushed to a smart phone has 10 times the redemption rate of traditional coupons.
That fact becomes even more powerful when the coupon link is embedded within a text message, which is typically responded to within 90 seconds by the average consumer compared to the average 90 minute response rate to a typical e-mail offer.
These trends suggest that holiday mobile marketing is a cost-effective consideration that’s also highly-effective – something that smarketeers love.
Going Visual – Without Getting “Pinned” Down
Another great seasonal tactic that small-to-mid-sized businesses should consider using is Pinterest. One of the most dramatic marketing trends in 2012 is the rise of visuals in the form of customer photos, video, and infographics shared via social media platforms.
And the fastest growing visual platform online is Pinterest, which is kind of like a living collage where people Pin and re-Pin favorite images, videos, or graphics. Setting up an account is free, easy, and allows for creative ways to identify, align, and engage with preferred customers.
Use of contests, compelling information, coupons, and breath-takingly cute or funny images are all hallmarks of Pinterest’s growing popularity.
Additionally, Pinterest’s visual appeal drives word-of-mouth sharing which increases the likelihood of a campaign going viral. Pinterest also nicely integrates with other online and offline marketing tactics.
The seasonal smarketeer understands this and recognizes that the right holiday picture and hyperlink can be worth a thousand words, which might convert to a thousand new Pins on Pinterest and access to thousands of potential new customers.
That sure sounds better than visions of sugar plums!
Going Postal – Without Literally “Going Postal”
The popularity of e-mail marketing and double-opt-in mailing lists are flying higher now than a sleigh being pulled by eight tiny reindeer. However, this digital deluge is creating an opportunity for savvy smarketeers.
Consider this example; many music critics and experts projected that the digital revolution in music would be the death knell for vinyl albums and record players – and it nearly was.
But counter-culture visionaries used the trend away from analog music as a way to re-brand a higher perceived value around those scarce resources.
Today record players that used to cost $30 now command a premium price that’s more than $350 per unit.
The point is that smart marketers “zig” while competitors “zag.” The marketing “zig” for smarketeers during the holidays should be a renewed focus on the traditional mail box rather than the e-mail box – here are three reasons why:
First, as with the aforementioned record album example, there is a growing perceived value among consumers for tangible goods compared to digital products. While digital products might be more convenient to distribute, a growing customer segment prefers to hold something of quality in their hands rather than digitized materials.
There’s a nostalgia to tangible things and traditions, which resonates more than ever during the holidays.
People would rather curl up around a real crackling Yule Log in their fireplace rather than a digital version playing on their computer screen.
Second, prospective customers are actually scouring their traditional mailboxes on a daily basis this time of year looking for holiday cards from friends and loved ones.
This heightened-awareness and scrutiny for postal delivers is unique to the holidays. So a high-value offer, coupon, or discount wrapped in a seasonal communique is more likely to get attention.
Third, it’s easier than ever to cost-effectively plan and execute a successful holiday mailing. After the smarketeer has developed a holiday offer that’s sweeter than nutmeg-laced egg nog, the shipping logistics are easy.
Skip the hassle, expense, and opportunity costs of standing in holiday lines at the post office for an alternative such as pbWebConnect by Pitney Bowes. This service is cloud-based and allows business owners to easily print postage and shipping labels.
Even if it’s over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house – the Pitney Bowes’ solution provides smarketeers remote shipment tracking and delivery confirmations at deep discounts of 15 percent and 25 percent off of Priority and Express shipping rates charged by the post office.
The beauty of a traditional “offline” direct mail campaign using a service such as the Pitney Bowes solution is that it easily integrates with the cost-effective mobile and/or Pinterest tactics mentioned earlier – those kinds of savings and customer results should make even the most miserly Scrooge stand up and holiday cheer!
Tor Constantino is a former journalist, bestselling author/speaker and current PR guy who lives near Washington, D.C. with his wife and kids. He also has an MBA degree, writes about solutions-based services, and blogs regularly at http://www.thedailyretort.com.
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