Ed Levy has more than 25 years of apparel-decorating experience. Levy, who’s director of software technologies for Hirsch Solutions, is an in-demand speaker at trade show and regular contributor to industry magazines.
There’s still time for you to generate massive fourth-quarter sales and have enough breathing room to fulfill these additional holiday decorated apparel and goods orders without burning the midnight oil for three weeks straight. The key is to inspire people to order early to beat the holiday rush.
Here are 11 ways you can start closing orders, starting today.
1. Offer incentives for customers who place holiday orders early. This can get new orders in your door right now and can also help balance your last-minute rush. (Try something like: “X% discount on holiday orders through December 5.”) Too many decorators are forced to cut off sales and disappoint customers because their team simply can’t handle the last-minute volume.
2. Don’t neglect your low-hanging-fruit prospects. These are the almost-customers you’ve already vetted and pitched, but haven’t ordered from you yet. They already know your company’s name and what you offer. This is a great time to make a healthy list of all your unsold prospects from the past year, and follow up with them. Reach out to your most recent contacts first, since you’ll have a better chance of closing a sale.
Tip: Make a quick list of objections you often get this time of year and write out quick responses, so you know exactly what to say.
3. Get on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday train. Jump into your prospects’ and customers inboxes often and early, to get ahead of all the other businesses reminding them about post-Turkey Day sales.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to play the scarcity card. Words like “for a limited time only” that set a timeframe for your holiday wares can propel procrastinators to buy.
4. Social media is your new BFF. First, hop on all your personal social channels and let your family, friends and contacts know you’re their go-to source for personalized holiday gifts. Create a shareable post with a fun graphic. Use a saying like “It’s not too late to get everyone on your list a personalized holiday gift” and your business name and website.
Second, be sure that you (or a member of your staff) starts working all of your company’s social accounts, reminding people to place their holiday orders now, along with any incentives you’re offering. Posting images of your wares also spurs people to browse and buy.
5. Monogramming is hot. Who doesn’t like getting a bag or accessory personalized with their initials? (Plus, giftees love the fact that the person who gave them the item took the extra time to personalize it.) E-blast out your five or 10 most-requested items with monogramming to your lists. Create a social media campaign (don’t forget to boost posts) to show buyers this attractive and thoughtful gift option.
6. Exhibit at local holiday shopping events. Most communities host holiday shopping events that often even start in late summer and early fall. Ask one of your staffers to make a list of local events. Then, participate in as many as you can and cash in on the holiday frenzy - people attending these events love the convenience of browsing lots of vendors so they can cross lots of gifts off their lists.
7. Call on larger customers for end-of-year budget spending. Many larger companies have a use-it-or-lose-it budget. Reach out to your contacts at bigger accounts and pitch gift programs for their employees or customers. It’s true - several of these buyers might be wondering how to spend this extra cash, so be the vendor with the answer.
8. Clear out your overstock. Lots of companies immediately boost fourth-quarter sales by running a promotion on extra items they have in stock. Check out your inventory and see if you can do the same.
9. Don’t forget about SEO. Take a look at your website and tweak your product titles, features and images to improve your SEO so you appear higher in searches. Bonus points: Can you add any short educational or product demo videos to score even higher visibility?
10. Make it easier to buy. Take a critical look at your e-commerce site. The harder it is for customers to find products they want, the quicker they’ll hop over to another site. It might even be worth surveying or asking some of your customers what your site’s like to navigate - and where you might be losing them. Plus, think about how people shop for your product (type of product, style or application, for example) so you can organize your products to match how people shop.
11. Use stories, not statistics. If you don’t have any customer case studies or testimonials (short videos will get watched all day long), now’s the time to wrangle some. A single case study or personal testimonial from a satisfied customer will often convince people to work with you faster than stats from hundreds of customers. Post these testimonials on your site, and then push them out in e-blasts, e-newsletters and on social media (don’t forget to boost those posts).
Using any or all of these tips will spur your fourth-quarter sales - and we won’t be surprised if this is your biggest end-of-year profit yet.
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