Wrapping Up 2015
The fourth-quarter will be here before you know it, so how can you make that last push to meet your 2015 sales goals? We spoke to distributors and suppliers to get some answers. Here is what they had to say:
1. Start early.
It is important not to wait until the fourth quarter to start planning your fourth-quarter goals. In fact, your Q4 plans should be in place by the beginning of the year. “Have a plan at the beginning of the year and follow the plan—every month, every week, every day,” said Cliff Quicksell, MAS+, director of sales and marketing, iPROMOTEu, Wayland, Mass.
You can even get a head start on 2016 by implementing a few new ideas early. “Set aside time to review the first three quarters and formulate a sales strategy for 2016,” Roger Buck, director of marketing for St. Louis-based Flesh Co, recommended. “Use a portion of the fourth quarter of 2015 to lay out a sales and marketing process you can manage as you enter 2016. Don’t lay out a plan you can’t support. It’s better to have a paced marketing plan you can manage, than an aggressive marketing plan that falls flat in the first few months.”
2. Make your abilities known.
Everyone may be holiday shopping in the fourth quarter, but do clients know to come to you for their corporate gifts? “Distributors should make sure that all their clients know that they are a gift headquarters for the holidays,” Andy Arruda, national sales manager, Hub Pen Company, Braintree, Mass., said. “It is too easy for their clients to think of them as just a promotional products distributor. This is too narrow a category.”
Laura Hroma, owner, Proforma Innovative Marketing Products, Downers Grove, Ill., agreed, and pointed out that your performance during the first three quarters of the year has a big influence on holiday orders. “No one will want to do their holiday ordering through you if you’re not a proven performer throughout the year,” she said. “The trust needs to be built well before the fourth quarter.”
“A lot of your customers will wait until last minute to plan their holiday gifts, but if you take the work out of their hands and simplify the process for them, you are bound to stand out amongst the rest and capture as much available business as possible,” added Nick Caputi, marketing coordinator, Chocolate Inn/Taylor & Grant, Freeport, N.Y.
3. Balance your efforts.
Q4 is really no different than any other quarter when it comes to preparation and your approach, Quicksell noted. “It’s all about consistency and balancing the many facets of marketing and sales efforts—social media, Web presence, creative marketing, email marketing, etc.,” he said. “It’s not just one thing. It’s a balance of many consistent efforts that gain results.”
4. Showcase variety.
At the start of each Q4, Hroma creates a helpful visual to show clients the variety of gifts she can offer. “The boards are based on different criteria—price range, client industry and type of gift (tech, desktop, recreation, apparel, etc.),” she said. “So many clients just want ‘ideas,’ which is a pretty broad category. The gift boards show three to four items per presentation with some of the newest products in the industry to get a client thinking—and hopefully buying.”
5. Create Repetition.
With so many companies offering corporate gifts during this time of year, it’s a chance to create repeat customers and make Q4 consistently profitable. “If you are not targeting this apparent need by offering custom, unique, made-to-order food gifts, you are foregoing massive sales potential that tends to go on autopilot year after year,” Caputi said.
6. Work with budgets.
While you’re looking to build your Q4 sales, clients working on a calendar fiscal year may have budgeted funds that need to be spent before the year’s end. “Working with a client to produce work in the fourth quarter, but not deliver until the first quarter can bring value to the relationship while securing new business,” Buck said.
7. Target nonprofits.
Nonprofits and other organizations with membership and fundraising drives are active toward the end of the year, Buck mentioned. Between direct mail programs for fundraising and membership renewals, there are plenty of print sales opportunities. “Zoos, museums, theaters and even alumni groups use this time to ask for funding,” he said. “Integrated cards are frequently in the post-donor phase, which may be sent with the contribution thank-you letters.”
8. To sell gifts, give a gift.
Hub Pen Company offers free personalized pens for distributors to gift to clients, Arruda said. The gift doubles as a sample, but regardless of the type of gift, distributors should package it as a gift as well. “It might be as easy as taking a product and putting a velvet sleeve on a pen,” he explained. “The more appropriate holiday gift would be to put a pen in a gorgeous gift box with a letter of appreciation inside.”