Pleading the Fourth
If there's one thing we know about August—with its oppressive heat and stifling humidity and oppressively stifling television lineup—it's that more people are thinking about the beach than they are about Santa Claus. That makes a lot of sense. The beach offers cool breezes and an escape from Modern Family reruns; Santa Claus offers, well, let's just say he'd probably be pretty hot in that suit.
But if you're in the promotional industry, summer is the time to start thinking about Christmas—or better yet, the entire upcoming holiday season. Businesses are gearing up for their big holiday sales pushes, and whatever money's left in their promotional budgets is wide open for the spending. So what's more important: bocce ball and beach-bar margaritas, or a strong finish to your fiscal year? Kickstart your fourth-quarter sales with the guide below. (Yes, you can finish the margarita first.)
1. Start Now
As we mentioned above, it may seem counterintuitive to begin planning for fall and winter sales when the heat index is still topping 100, but we can't stress it enough: Don't wait until it's too late, or you may miss out on sales altogether. "The big mistake I see distributors making is starting too late," explained Rosalie Marcus, The Promo Biz Coach, proprietor of www.promobizcoach.com, a business coaching and consulting practice for the promotional industry. "They should be talking about fourth-quarter promotions months before the quarter begins. It's best to plan 90 days ahead of the quarter."
2. Why So Early?
Ninety days is a long lead-time, but there are a few reasons to plan this far ahead. For one, the closer you get to the holidays, the more likely it is your clients will have already depleted or exhausted their promotional budgets. "Very often companies have run out of promotional spend or have experienced budget cuts by the fourth quarter," said Marcus Sweeney, national sales manager for Bridgeport, Connecticut-based Prime Line.