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Amy E. Olivieri

Amy E. Olivieri is a Houston, Texas-area regional development director for Constant Contact. For more e-mail marketing best practices, visit www.ConstantContact.com. To contact the author, e-mail aolivieri@giemedia.com.

 

Features

[Sales & Promotions] Ahead of the Holidays

Customer Service & Relations

By planning your end-of-year communications now, you can be ahead of the game when the holiday rush is in full swing.

September 28, 2012

It’s still warm and sunny in much of the country right now, but an unfortunate truth is that the end of the year will be here before we know it. That means the next few months will likely be a bit busy — and these still-slow days of early fall are the perfect time to start planning for the holiday rush.

One benefit of operating a small business is that you can differentiate yourself from the big-box retailers and businesses that will all be offering exclusive coupons and their “lowest prices ever.” If everyone else will be offering 20 percent off coupons, why would you want to do the same? You can offer more than a discount. The more unique, helpful and inspiring your email communications are, the more they will stand out — and the more likely they will be passed along to others.

You may not know exactly what you’re going to be offering or promoting in every communication you send, or some of the other details, but no matter if you’re a pest management firm that services residential, commercial or both, you can get ahead of the game now. Here are seven ideas for holiday communications you can begin working on now so you have less to do later:


Make a charitable donation.
Making a donation to a charity in the name of a special customer or client (or on behalf of all of your clients!) is a great way to share the holiday spirit. Send the message in a holiday-themed email. Prepare the email now and send it later, after the donation has been made.


Send a holiday message. Sending a holiday message is a great way to connect with you customers (and potential customers). Show a lighter and more personable side of your firm by including a photo of your staff along with their signatures, or a video with greetings from others. You can include a success story and thank your email subscribers for their help in making it happen (and for their referrals). Get started now while you have the time, or you might not make the time later.


Event promotion.
Schedules get busy at year-end, so if you’re hosting a holiday fundraising event on your own or in conjunction with other area businesses or organizations, you’ll want to get a save-the-date to your target audience as early as possible. Send an invitation a month or two before the event and be sure to include the benefits the recipient will receive if he or she attends your event. Be sure to provide logistical information as well.


Tell a story. Send a short story about how your pro bono pest management work makes a difference. Or, share a customer’s story about what happened as a result of your prompt and reliable pest management service. Include a photo of the person whose story you’re telling.


Share your goals. Thank customers and employees for their support during the past year and share with them your goals for the new year.


Holiday hours. If applicable, prepare an email announcing that you will have special holiday hours for your customers’ convenience (like the day before that big dinner party!). Or, if your office will be closed during the holidays, let them know how they can make an emergency call and that someone will be available 24/7 to help them.


Send a newsletter with the year’s accomplishments. There is some-thing powerful about seeing a list of successes that have come about after a year of hard work. Did your firm donate pest management services to a local school? Did you hire any new technicians? Were you quoted in the local paper? Did any of your employees earn CEUs or achieve additional certifications? Did your firm grow at a double-digit rate? Send a newsletter that highlights the year’s brightest moments, and include plenty of pictures.


Final Thoughts. Yes, the holiday season is almost here. Plan your email marketing campaigns now for the next few months and you’ll be able to spend more time focusing on customer service and less time on your email communications.

 

The author is a regional development director for Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com) in Houston. E-mail her at aolivieri@giemedia.com.

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