Holiday Sales Strategies for Direct Sellers
Not only is Q4 the busiest time of year for direct sellers, it’s also a busy time in our personal lives. We have holiday parties. We have shopping and cooking to complete. We have school events and shows and performances. While we can’t plan out every little detail of the holidays, having a solid plan to keep the final months of the year moving smoothly is a great place to start.
Ready to plot out exactly what you need to do from October to January to not only bring your business to the attention of avid shoppers, but also to keep you ahead of the game rolling into the new year, so that you can enjoy the end of the year with your friends and family.
Yes, please! Map out these 4 phases and you’ll be equipped with exactly what to do and when to do it to truly maximize the holiday season.
Phase 1: HOLIDAY BUZZ
This takes place from the time your company reveals their holiday products to Black Friday.
Early in the fall selling season, most companies will roll out the new, festive, and bestselling items that they want to keep in front of their customers through the fourth quarter. These products and bundles are usually perfect for holiday gift giving, so you want to be sure that your customers are getting first dibs. We don’t want them to miss out!
For me, that first week of November—right after Halloween—is the perfect time to start promoting those seasonal products. If you have a new catalog, this is a great time of year to ship those out to your customers that like to physically have it in their hands. It’s also a great time to plan events! You can do that in the form of an online party. You can do an in-person open house, where you’re sharing your new items, you have samples available, and you’re taking orders. You could even host a hybrid event, where you go live from your open house and include your virtual customers in the excitement. It’s a chance to invite others to share what they love about the new products, as well as who they’re shopping for.
Whatever you choose, we want to build a theme around special offers and gift giving, so we start getting our customers into the holiday mode.
Phase 2: BLACK FRIDAY WEEKEND
This takes place from Black Friday weekend through Cyber Monday
The week after Thanksgiving is infamous for its emphasis on sales and shopping: Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Shop Small Saturday, Giving Back Tuesday… So, it’s easy for us direct sellers to get caught up in wanting to do something equally as special for our customers as we see every big box store doing. We want to be relevant, right? But what we also need to keep in mind is that customers have a very short attention span right now. So, I would pick one promotion and keep it in front of your customers throughout the duration of that holiday week.
As fun as it is to come up with creative themes and deals and specials that people will love, one way forward is to find fun ways to piggyback off of any promotions your company is offering. What that means is, the discount is coming out of their pocket, not your pocket, during that time period. Conversely, if your company doesn’t have any deals or specials, or historically has not participated in Black Friday promotions, you may want to create something special for your customers on your own. In that case, consider doing it before Black Friday. As much as we’d love to compete with all the big box stores that are spending all their marketing dollars at this time, if you can get a little bit ahead of them, that’s going to provide a lot of visibility for your products.
Whether you’re doing it the week before Black Friday or the week of Black Friday, on your own or with your company, I caution against a Deal of the Day, because while it can be fun, the more you change things up, the harder it’s going to be for your customers to catch up. If you’re sharing on social media, in all likeliness, customers will see the Deal of the Day from three days ago, and then be frustrated that they missed out on it. It’s easy to feel as though we’re repeating ourselves when we reiterate a single promotion, but customers may only see it on Instagram, or through a text message from you. They won’t catch it on all of your channels. So, don’t overcomplicate it. Keep it really simple, and stick with that one promotion that you can really do a good job of sharing with your customers.
And make it a promotion that doesn’t break the bank. While it would be nice to compete with the doorbuster deals from the big box stores, pay attention, crunch the numbers, and make sure that you’re still making money on the promotions that you’re offering for Black Friday. Really, our customers are appreciative when we go even a bit above and beyond for them. So, even if it is a little bit of a bonus gift, or a small discount on their order, or maybe free shipping, you don’t want to put in place strategies that are going to break the bank and then realize that you’re paying for customers to shop.
PHASE 3: PRIME TIME SHOPPING SEASON
This takes place from Giving Tuesday to your Holiday Shipping Cutoff.
One of the firm deadlines we have as direct sellers is the shipping cutoff date for holiday shoppers. This is the point in the season where follow-up with our customers becomes really important, right? We know who has shopped with us to that point. And, we also probably know those customers that are procrastinators, that wait up until the very last minute to actually place that order. So, that second week of December, right before that cutoff, is when you want to be checking your messages. You want to be checking in with people. You want to be sending out reminders. You especially want to follow-up with those people that had commented, or interacted, or said that they really liked something, but hadn’t actually placed that order.
These early weeks in December are also a great time to highlight those items that can help fill a need on your customers’ holiday shopping lists. We all have hard-to-shop-for people in our lives, and you probably have an amazing product that would be a great solution for a customer that’s struggling to find the right gift for the right person. Or, maybe this is your chance to offer that extra incentive, like a bonus gift. Or, you could design a pretty gift certificate in Canva, which might come with a personal shopping appointment with you, and you could promote that as a gift. You could even offer free gift wrapping and the option for you to ship directly to their intended recipient. Providing a full-service experience for your customer is a big deal, and this way, even the last-minute shoppers are having a really great experience.
PHASE 4: BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
This runs from the Holiday Shipping Cutoff through New Years Eve.
Of course, just because your firm shipping deadline passes doesn’t mean that customers won’t still want to shop with you to finish out the year. We want to make sure that we’re servicing those customers through the end of December, too. So, while that shipping cutoff may pass, and you’re not able to guarantee any longer that a product will arrive before the holidays, you can still place orders!
The beauty of this business is that we don’t have to have the pedal to the metal all year long. This is the time where, for example, you may have some extra inventory on hand. Consider a last-minute shopping event, so those customers who procrastinated can still get a great holiday deal. Or, you can continue offering those gift cards and gift certificates. Package them in a fun way, and let customers pick what they want at a later date.
While you still want to be available for the customers that need you, this is the time to give yourself a bit of a break. Celebrate everything that you’ve accomplished for the year—and making it through the busy season!
AND, DON’T FORGET JANUARY!
Enjoying the holiday season while keeping up with our businesses can feel like a fine line to walk, and it’s easy to get caught up in the Q4 rush. But we want to ensure that even while we’re taking time to ourselves, we don’t forget about the first quarter of the New Year. Set up those goals during this Q4 period, so that you know what’s coming.
For example, January is typically a big month for recruiting. People are reevaluating their goals, and they’re thinking about new opportunities and what they want for themselves in the New Year. There’s usually some good energy out there that you can use to build your team.
A lot of companies also have new releases in January, too. Those new products are a great way to stay in front of your customers, because they give you a reason to book parties and stay in touch with those who buy from you, so you’ll want to make sure that you have some events on your calendar.
I know that in the thick of the holiday season, it can feel challenging to even think about booking parties or having incentives for January. But, there are so many opportunities! You can put some kind of “buy now, shop later” deal into place, where anyone placing orders during a certain period in December will get a voucher that they can redeem in January. Creative incentives for booking parties, like hostess gifts, are also a good draw. Or, if you’re having trouble nailing down a committed host, you can host a New Year Kick-Off party yourself! You can repeat that open-house strategy that you used back in November or December and say, “Hey, come on back! We’re going to just relax and have a great time and check out what’s new.”
January is a really big month for you to set the tone for the entire coming year, and we want to be ready when it arrives.