Plan Your Year-End Promotions Right Now

Many B-to-B marketers have product lines that lend themselves to end-of-year and beginning-of-year promotions. Those should be planned now! Of course, if you sell seasonal products, such as business holiday greeting cards or tax forms, your fourth quarter business is especially important. Most B-to-B marketers still see sales surges at year’s end due to final spending of companies’ yearly budgets.

Your call-center reps may need additional selling tools and promotions at this time of year to take advantage of customers’ seasonal spending propensities. The key driver is your customers’ need to spend all of their annual budgets so they can justify asking for larger budgets next year. Maybe you’ve heard the mantra, “spend it or lose it.”

Sometimes the call starts with a comment like, “I have X dollars I need to spend by year’s end. What do you suggest?” Ah, a call-center rep’s dream call! Other times, the spending reflects better business performance than expected. This enables many small businesses to justify spending a portion of their overforecast profits.

Consider the following year-end promotional ideas to capitalize on these opportunities.

* Review the seasonal buying trends of your biggest customers or customer segments. Then develop and target specific offers to them. Don’t forget about prospects, too.

* Review your product line, and put big-ticket items on sale, especially those that aren’t ordered regularly.

* Bundle items to get a bigger average order from your big spenders.

* Suggest stocking up on all consumables; promote a “year-end stock-up sale.”

* Plan a “Get Ready for 2009” promotion if it’s relevant to your market or customer segment. Getting ready for tax season or planning for 2009 employee training are good examples.

* Allow your inbound and outbound sales reps more negotiating room on large orders involving big-ticket or capital purchases. (Be careful not to do too much of this with consumers; you might simply be pulling orders from the first quarter of 2009 into the fourth quarter of 2008.)

* Be prepared to invoice and accept prepayment for orders shipped in January ’09.

* Theme your promotions to the season. Even though holiday shopping is primarily a consumer event, the shopper’s mind-set can influence B-to-B purchases as well.

* Make sure your Web site has all the appropriate offers, creative, video and other items necessary to really merchandise your seasonal offers online.

* Start your employee training soon. Review the successes and failures of last year, and realize you may have new reps that have never sold through a year-end season.

Holiday shopping isn’t restricted to the B-to-C world. But in B-to-B, it looks more like “year-end budget spending.” Get ready to take advantage of any seasonal spending.

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes@b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221 (direct line).

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221

Comments or questions are welcome.

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