Let’s get real…
Not many folks want to replace their windows during the holidays.
Or renovate their bathrooms.
Or install new siding.
Or anything else that would mess with their crazy holiday schedule.
That’s why most contractors make like a bear and go into hibernation mode around the middle of November. They cut their marketing budgets because they think they won’t make any sales during the time of turkey and Kris Kringle.
But that’s not necessarily true.
If business is slow during the holidays, here are 5 ideas to “un-crapify” sales.
As with all marketing ideas, these should be evaluated against your current circumstances. Remember that not every idea may work for YOUR situation.
That said, I present you with my top 5 ideas to fill your stockings with sales this holiday.
Idea #1: Admit Sales Are Slow & Tell A Story
Being honest is a great way to disarm prospects and get them to warm up to you. So why not TELL them your sales are slow?
Here’s what you could do:
- Write a letter, email or ad explaining that the holidays are your slow months. Use specifics. If your sales slump 60%, say so. Specifics sell.
- Make a great offer for people to do business with you right now. I’m talking something really special and significant. (Remember—people are less likely to buy from you, so they need an extra-big push.)
- Be straight up and inform prospects that you’re willing to take a hit in your normal profits to keep your employees busy.
- Limit the offer to a small number of people. Then stick to it.
I once ran this type of promo for a sunroom company during the 2005 holiday.
Yes, selling sunrooms during the cold months seems about as smart as selling ice cubes to Eskimos. But you know what? The ad was an instant hit.
Here is the first page of the multi-page ad we ran:
This kind of ad campaign can work during any time of the year for services or products that are “seasonal.” Just ensure that what you say in the ad is true. I’ve witnessed businesses take this idea to falsely engineer “slow months” during the summer. It failed unequivocally.
Idea #2: Focus On Past Customers
This is first cousins with the above idea; however, this involves sending a letter to your past customers. This works because it’s believable that you’d give your existing customers a special offer.
Here’s an example:
Fun fact: A large window company altered this strategy to net a $3-million December—six times bigger than their typical Decembers.
They listed their customers from the previous three years on a spreadsheet. In one of the columns, they listed the amount of every customer’s transaction. The company then multiplied the amount of the transaction by 8%. They offered whatever this number came out to be to the customer in the form of a check mailer.
Example: If a customer spent $10,252, the company sent them a check mailer for an $820.16 discount. This strategy was effective because 1.) it was believable that the company would offer their past customers a discount, and 2.) the amount of the discount was such an odd number ($820.16 vs. $1,000, for example) that it made the offer more noticeable and credible.
Idea 3: Position Your Product As A Gift
Position your product or service as something that can be given as a Christmas gift. This will work better for “fun” remodels and renovations (kitchen remodels, bathroom remodels, pools, sunrooms, decks) than for “functional” renovations like windows, siding, and gutter protection. (No offense, window/siding/ gutter contractors!)
Listen to this ad for an example:
A key aspect of this strategy is to determine a way to actually wrap what you sell as a gift, so you can actually give it as a PRESENT. This could be something like a small toy model of a kitchen, a book about sunrooms, or even countertop tile.
Here are some ideas for stuff you could offer to wrap for your clients:
Get creative. Make it fun for your customers. Contrary to belief, “business” and “fun” are not diametric opposites!
Idea 4: Buy Your Customers’ Christmas Gifts FOR Them
If you want to be on the receiving end of some serious “good will toward men,” take some of the profit from a customer’s project and give it back to them in the form of a gift card they can use to purchase Christmas presents.
If they bought a $30,000 kitchen remodel from you, don’t give them a “discount”; instead, give them a $2,000 gift card to Amazon or Target or wherever. Your customer will actually believe you’re Santa Clause. But instead of giving you a glass of milk and plate of Chips Ahoy, they’ll reward you with something MUCH better: repeat business, referrals, and awesome word of mouth.
The key to making this work is how you position it. Here is a great way to angle it in an advertisement:
“Have you thought about remodeling your kitchen, but decided to put it off until after the holidays? BAD IDEA! Right now, XYZ Remodeling wants to pay for ALL YOUR CHRISTMAS GIFTS THIS YEAR. That’s right, Meet with us and sign a deal to remodel your kitchen or bathroom, and we’ll give you gift cards worth up to $2,000 to spend on Christmas at stores like Target, Amazon, Macy’s, and others….”
Idea 5: Keep Your Pay-Per-Click Budget Strong
It’s natural for contractors to want to cut back on their PPC budgets during the slow season. Fight those instincts. Keep your PPC budget healthy.
Here’s why. Your competitors will have smaller budgets than yours. This will create a big opportunity for you to get great placement and a huge chunk of the clicks. Remember, pay-per-click is a great way to capture “now buyers” who are in the market searching RIGHT NOW. Just because there are fewer customers during the holidays doesn’t mean there are NO customers during the holidays! If you keep your PPC going strong, you will find those folks who are in the market for immediate action.
Combine this PPC strategy with one of the ideas above, and you’ll have a holiday-marketing double-whammy!
Bonus Idea: Do SOMETHING Productive During Winter!
If none of the ideas above make sense for your situation, you still have plenty to keep you busy during the down time. Use the time to work on projects that you need for the spring.
Here’s a short list of things to consider getting done during the holidays:
Improve Your Website: It takes time—might as well be doing something while you’re doing nothing.
Beef-Up Your SEO: Write blog posts that you can unload during the busy months when you don’t have time to mess with it.
Home Show Prep: Do you need to revitalize your home show presentation? Winter’s a great time to get it done!
Other Stuff: Are you using a powerful CRM software like MarketSharp? If, not, invest some of your downtime into installing and learning how to use it. Do you want to close more jobs… while doing so for MUCH higher prices? Get set up with hyper-effective closing tools like GreenSky Financing on the double, so you can implement them into your sales presentation.
Don’t just sit around and let inertia be your guide. Getting a head start on projects will make a HUGE difference when your busy season rolls around.
© 2017, Rich Harshaw. All rights reserved.