Business owners in the retail sectors generally have an opportunity to shine in December as they prepare for the biggest sales of the year. But, in the business-to-business environment, it’s often difficult to produce yuletide cheer: Some sectors of the B2B world seem to shut down during the holiday season and lots of people take off for vacation early. That leads some middle-market businesses to resign themselves to the idea that new business must wait until the new year.
That’s a mistake. It can rob you of sales and give an edge to your more aggressive competitors. Here are nine tips that will get B2B marketers into the holiday spirit:
- Amp up outreach! This might seem counterintuitive, but the research firm Software Advice found that the week before and the week after Christmas are surprisingly good times to qualify leads since people who are at work are a bit more available. Moreover, many organizations operate under a “use-it-or-lose-it” budgeting policy, which results in an almost 5 time increase in expenditures in the final week of the fiscal year versus an average weekly expenditure.
- Give a gift. The holidays are a great time to promote your brand, and there’s value in sending something to your customers and prospects. Swag and food are always hits, but so are useful gifts, such as tutorials, infographics, whitepapers or videos to help them understand your product or services more efficiently. For regular products or company promotions, create a special holiday-themed unboxing experience.
- Give a gift to your clients’ clients. Take the holiday gift idea a step further and offer to send a gift to your clients’ clients on their behalf. Your branding can be there, but the gift should come from your client. It creates a hero moment for them with their client, as well as a hero moment for you with yours.
- Send a personal holiday greeting. Handwritten cards to your top 20 or 30 prospects simply wishing happy holidays – don’t do a hard sell here – offers the classic personal touch. The truth is, many times consumers don’t always buy products and services so much as they buy people, purpose and promise. Clients sign contracts because they believe in you and your company’s vision, potential and attention to detail, just as much as they believe in the particular specifications of whatever product or service you’re offering. Show some generosity, personality and maybe even humor. Include your contact information and an invitation to contact you with any questions.
- Track trends. And tell people about them. Provide context for the top 10 or so industry trends with data wrapped in an easy-to-grasp infographic. This not only provides value to customers, but strengthens perception of your brand as a thought leader.
- Partner with a nonprofit. Consider some marketing spending on a cause that aligns with your company values. This can serve a variety of purposes: It gives a personality to your business, allows your brand to meet a new audience and provides social media content. You might even contribute a portion of services sold during this period to a nonprofit, and be sure to mention that in your pitches.
- Get festive on social media. This could be the trend-tracking infographic mentioned above, a bit of year-in-review content, some sort of end-of-year countdown or just enthusiastic holiday wishes.
- Tinker with your offer. Try a new promotion linked to a deadline. Offer a slightly different configuration of your product or service to a few stalled or inactive prospects. You’ll have a better sense of how a real test will fair next year, and you might help close a few deals in the process. Be flexible with payments: Allow prospects to pay in the new year, and start using your product now – with the option to cancel completely at no cost after 30 days. Odds are that they’ll get hooked on your product.
- Lay the groundwork for 2018. The end of the year always brings the beginning of a new one, so it’s a good time to review successes and failures, and use that knowledge to define the strategy for a new year. Build a communications plan to preserve your good relationships with clients.
The decision makers you’ve been reaching out to all year may be distracted by their social calendar, holiday happenings and upcoming vacation plans, but they also may be even more ready to buy as end-of-year urgency sparks the pressure to use up their 2017 budgets before time runs out to acquire tools and technologies for the new year. A compressed time schedule can expedite the purchase process since prospects are already predisposed to spend.
Take advantage of it!