Tech Line

Forget ‘Black Friday’: For Business, the Time to Shop is Now

Pumpkin Spice Lattes were being brewed by sad baristas in July. Halloween candy has been on the shelves in Target since August. October is just around the corner and, no matter how hard you fight it, you’ll be hearing Mariah Carey everywhere you go any day now.

Even if you’re not mentally prepared for all the holiday music and trappings, you should prepare your business for the holiday season ASAP.

There are few things more important any time of year than keeping current customers happy or acquiring new ones.

While we all know that customers should always be on your mind, we suggest you think about the holiday or end-of-year experience you want to provide for your customers today. Supply-chain issues, shipping delays, and the ongoing global health crisis can interrupt your holiday plans. Try to finalize everything by mid-October.

Showing prospects, customers, and even employees how much you care for them is good practice all year, but the holiday season is a natural moment for corporate gifting. Pam Danziger, founder of consultancy Unity Marketing, explained: “You want to delight someone. You want to really make a memory. You want to make an impression on the person that is receiving it.” In that way, business gifts are no different than personal gifts, she said: “It really has to be personal. It has to be thoughtful. It has to be memorable. And those are the same requirements that you have in personal gifting.”  

So, with that in mind, what does your shopping list look like? Another hat or water bottle? No, you want to be remembered and really show your customers that you can think a little outside of the box—and are, not just throwing something lame into one. What we suggest is that you combine the physical with the digital to create a memorable holiday Hybrid Experience.

Some Thoughtful Ideas

While it might seem a bit clinical for the holiday season, industry experts recommend sending different gifts to your various persona levels. Now, just because you might be sending something smaller to your top-of-funnel customers, that doesn’t mean you appreciate them any less. Everyone likes to receive a personalized gift. If you want to stand out from gift cards and traditional bulk-send cards, consider interactive mailers paired with an eGift to really combine digital and physical experiences.  

Hot & Sweet: One of the best things you can do is avoid more clutter, so choose something edible. You can’t help but feel festive opening a personalized holiday card, making a mug of Ghirardelli hot cocoa, and topping it with crushed candy canes. The best part? No boring leftovers sitting around collecting dust, just a fun and festive experience—especially when paired with a virtual event.

Triple Play: All these choices, planning, budgets, logistics… Autumn is barely here, and it feels as if the holiday season is already in full swing. Foresight and prepping are necessities to ensure a smooth end of year, but with so much going on don’t forget to thank the ones getting it all done. The last year has been tough, so it’s more important than ever to show your employees the appreciation they deserve. Many businesses are still working remotely or in a hybrid system, so a traditional office party might be tricky. As an alternative, sweeten up the end of the year with a beautifully packaged candy cube trio. An assortment of tasty choices that can be tailored to anyone’s pallet.

Top in the Line: Now, we haven’t forgotten, the big guys. Your long-term customers, partners with great engagement, and executives. It’s hard to find someone who wouldn’t love a mug of decadent hot cocoa, but maybe you can do a little more. At this level, strategy is more important than  budget. Anyone can send a nice gift from Amazon, but that doesn’t necessarily leave a lasting impression or seem personal and authentic.

A fully custom cross-fold kit can engage the recipient in a new way. As she opens it, each customizable and printable panel tells a different or evolving story. Maybe start with how you solved a problem they had in the past, move to thanking them for their continued patronage, add a QR code linking the physical to the digital, creating a fully Hybrid Experience, and then end with a present at the center—maybe, a JBL wireless speaker or air pods. This would truly be a magical moment this holiday season.

Lastly, try to remember your gifts are about appreciating your customers and prospects and showing them how you stand out. You’re not just trying to guilt them into another meeting or reorder. There is no quid pro quo. Show your appreciation through a PFL Hybrid Experience and leave a lasting and magical impression.