Expert Advice: Quick Ways to Boost Soft Holiday Sales

For most consumer catalogers, this is the make-or-break season. So if your holiday sales aren’t as robust as you’d hoped, you need to take steps now to improve them. Tony Cox, president of Richardson, TX-based consultancy Catalog Solutions, offers some suggestions to rev up sales in a hurry. Although Catalog Solutions specializes in working with food mailers, many of Cox’s tips would work for all consumer catalogers:

* “Have a highly promotional home page ready and waiting to ‘turn on’ if sales start to slip.” Especially if you handle your Web design inhouse, creating a backup page won’t cost you much.

* “Increase your key word and paid listing budget. There is still time to add key words to your search engine marketing program, and get premium placement with sponsored listings on Google.”

* “If you don’t have them already, add ‘online specials’ to your Website. Make ‘specials’ one of your primary navigation buttons on your home page. Many customers shop the ‘specials’ section first.

* “Crank out a quick postcard offering discounts on gift certificates. This is a great way to boost cash flow–customers prepay for the certificates, while you don’t ship the product until the recipient redeems.”

* “Be ready for every caller with gift-giver specials and add-on items. If call volume is down, adding to the average order value is the best way to make up the shortfall. It’s always easier to get a customer to add to their order when they are already on the phone than to get them to order a second time within the season.”

* “Extend your usual employee discount to all family members and to your employees’ friends” via a Friends and Family offer. “If 20 seasonal employees each get three family members to place an order, that’s 60 orders you never would have had.”

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