Is It Really Simple Math?

How to take advantage of the holiday season

It’s no secret that the dealers surviving and/or thriving in today’s market are walking faster and taking bigger steps. And with three of the entire year’s major holidays on the horizon (Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year), this could be the period that makes or breaks your entire year.

With that in mind, what better time to pick up the pace and hitch your wagon to the forthcoming turkey-induced consumer spending frenzy?  

Getting your customers and employees into the holiday spirit positions you to capture the 70 percent of annual discretionary dollars spent by Americans during this five-week window.

Here’s a simple math formula taught to me by the late John Wyckoff that I dig out for review every year around this time:
47W = 30% vs. 5W=70%

So, in 47 weeks, consumers spend 30 percent of their discretionary income, and in this sugar plum-spiked five-week period, a whopping 70 percent makes its way into the economy!

Yeah I know, decorations cost money, and it takes valuable time to put them up and take them down. And sure, due to seasonality and the weather, this period can be less than ideal to sell units, so it can be hard to justify expensive marketing campaigns. My thoughts? Improvise, adapt and overcome.
Remember the part about walking faster and taking bigger steps to survive this market? In addition to working harder in this market, you must be working smarter, too. That means having a solid plan in place for both your marketing and merchandising to optimize this important window.’

A good place to start is with your budget. Once you know what you can afford, you can then look closely at the specific media that will best compliment your objectives. Don’t be cheap. This time of year, that approach is penny-wise and pound-foolish. One to 2 percent of your total projected sales is a good place to start when calculating your marketing budget.

Remember, the purpose of your marketing is not just to go after new customers, but to increase the frequency of visits from your past and present customers and to raise the average value of each customer who does spend money with you.

Prioritize your planning with the utilization of assets you’re already paying for (like your staff). The difference between averaging $50 per invoice and $150 per invoice can be an enthusiastic, well-trained team. Have multiple educational staff meetings covering gift card sales and other holiday-related gift suggestions.

Your website should be appropriately updated with holiday-specific gift offers, and your in-store merchandising should exude the holiday spirit. Next, take a hard look at your customer database: This is another hidden marketing asset often overlooked. Who are your top 100 retail customers by margin? How can you reach out to them with a very personal offer so they think of you for all of their shopping needs?

How many email addresses do you have? How can you segment your list to provide relevant gift suggestions via email? What about phone numbers? A voice broadcast is a very affordable way to contact your best customers and invite them to an open house. A live call? Even better.

And don’t count out direct mail. According to a recent DM news study of 2008-2009 consumers age 18-plus, 40 percent reported trying a new business because of direct mail, and a whopping 70 percent reported renewing a severed or inactive relationship with business because of direct mail.

Get into the holiday spirit and participate in the holiday retailing frenzy. The alternative is to avoid it and forgo the opportunity to share in that 70 percent of the consumer’s discretionary dollars that will be spent somewhere else!

Cash In On Cyber Monday

A bonus holiday to consider is Cyber Monday. As a refresher, Cyber Monday is a marketing term for the Monday immediately following Black Friday. The term was originally created by the National Retail Federation and announced in 2005. Although this may seem like “manufactured commercialism,” who cares? We’ll take it any way we can get it, right?

Although I’m still slow to embrace how, and if, the dealer network is really going to build a profitable ecommerce department (keyword profitable), there are many creative ways to leverage Cyber Monday to drive traffic into the dealership using the internet as the medium. For example, you could email your list savings vouchers and coupons only good for in-store visits and add these incentives as banners on your website. That counts as cyber, doesn’t it? Or, if you prefer online shopping cart sales, that’s great too, just be sure you’re set up to fulfill and ship those orders in ample time.

A former dealer principal, Rod Stuckey is considered by many the pioneer of multi-channel direct marketing for the powersports industry. Rod is the founder of Dealership University and PowersportsMarketing.com.  His monthly  column reveals how to sell more units and make more money. 

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