Saturday, December 15, 2018
By Rob Smentek

Though fall has only just officially begun, if we’re to trust the retail chains, we’re deep in the midst of the holiday season. For weeks, stores have been displaying this year’s crop of Christmas tree ornaments, outdoor inflatables, and even candy canes. While many folks find this type of marketing annoying, if not straight up oppressive—particularly since Halloween isn’t even here yet—the fact is that the time is right to be thinking hard about your own holiday and New Year promotions.

Tip Holiday Marketing Since the holiday season is largely about spreading goodwill, you can leverage your end-of-year marketing efforts to not only strengthen relationships with your best customers but also foster a long-term partnership with new or not-quite regular clients. Admittedly, it’s common for many luxury ground transportation operators to be gifted with a steady stream of all-but-guaranteed work that comes from the influx of seasonal travel, office parties, and especially New Year’s Eve revelry. However, it doesn’t mean that anyone should rest on their laurels—or mistletoe, in this case—when it comes to a marketing plan.
"... you can leverage your end-of-year marketing efforts to not only strengthen relationships with your best customers but also foster a long-term partnership with new or not-quite regular clients.”
While you certainly have your own tried-and-true promotions that you’ve used during the holidays of yore, consider one or more of these approaches to show your clients a bit of appreciation while attracting new business for the coming year.

Start early. There’s some sound reasoning behind that ever-increasingly early holiday presence at the big retailers: It makes money. Take a page from the book of your local Rite Aid or Macy’s, and get your seasonal deals out there now. For instance, once the last of the Halloween candy is handed out, send out an e-mail blast to your client list offering them an early-bird rate for New Year’s Eve or a big sporting event. Or maybe gear a promotion toward your top-tier clients that gives them an “exclusive loyalty offer” for end-of-the-year trips.

Grant your customers a wish. Customers respond very well to companies that listen to their demands. Check your Yelp reviews or client feedback to see if there have been multiple requests for a service that you’ve been unable to provide, or current options that could use a refresh. Fall is a great time to launch updates and improvements, so consider a campaign that brands your company as “new and improved.”

Preview any new services. It’s human nature to love being “in” on a secret. If you’re planning on adding a fresh product or service to your business—say, a motorcoach, a new app, or another location—generate a bit of buzz by creating a campaign for “exclusive” customers that gives them a peek into what you have planned for the coming year.

Foster word-of-mouth. Personal referrals via word-of-mouth are among the most successful, not to mention cost-effective, ways to land new business. Launch a promotion that offers special discounts or a free product when an existing customer refers someone to your company during the holidays or into the early part of the new year.
"Personal referrals via word-of-mouth are among the most successful, not to mention cost-effective, ways to land new business.”
Tip Holiday Marketing Partner with a local charity. It’s become increasingly evident that customers want to give their business to companies that work to create a positive impact on the community. During the holidays, we are barraged by retailers asking us to donate to a variety of causes that we sometimes become overwhelmed. This donation is different—and doesn’t require them to dig deeper into their wallets. With help from your staff, choose a local charity, and let customers know that you will donate a percentage of the proceeds to them. Promote this online or in your regular advertising, and let the charity know as well so that they can include it in their marketing. Also, consider hosting an event alongside the charity—toy collection events are always popular around the holidays—and invite your clients. You will not only be supporting a good cause, but also getting a little face time. Also, think about doing this during other times of the year when charities could really use the support.

Go viral. Real-time video is a hot new trend in marketing—largely because it’s free on the major social media sites. It’s a great way for clients to get to know you and your company, particularly the office staff with whom they may interact regularly but have probably never meant. Have your staff join you in the video to deliver a holiday greeting—or better yet, post a full-staff Christmas Carol choir. The more festive and creative your video is, the more likely it is to be watched—and remembered. You can even email the link to your customer as part of your newsletter or annual year-end thank you.

A personal touch. It goes without saying that adding a personal touch during the holidays makes a huge impression on your clients. In this digital age, getting a good, old-fashioned Christmas card with a small personalized message is still quite meaningful. Sure, for some operators, this might be carpal tunnel inducing, but if you have a small client base or a handful of top customers, it’s worth breaking out the crowquill ... or ballpoint, as it were. If you’re planning on sending treats or a gift basket to a business—particularly one that’s not local—choose something that’s a regional favorite. It makes your brand and city much more memorable to your client, and even their staff.

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