Expert Edge

Promotional Holiday Gift Ideas

Promotions are done for two reasons - to create interest and to get a result. In our business, the result is to grow our business by selling more memberships. When we are able to combine a good promotion with a special event/time of year, the results are even greater than usual.

A special event is fast approaching in the form of the exciting holiday season. And there are more fun, unusual, memorable and, yes, inexpensive gifts available for holiday promotions than at any other time of the year.

Create the Initial Interest
* Use holiday colors. Bright holiday colors catch everyone's eye, and they are special enough to make the recipient want to wear them because they are bright, timely and new.

* Be seen. A good promotion will always include a marketing opportunity. What good is a promotion if it isn't appreciated or if others don't see it? Add quality to the item by making it long-sleeved, or a sweatshirt instead of a T-shirt. People will wear these items, and be noticed in them.

* Create a collectible. Hallmark makes tons of money every year by selling collectible tree ornaments. Why not start a precedent by creating specially designed ornaments with your club's name and logo, and the year on it? Here's an idea that could turn into a retention tool very easily.

* Capitalize on the year 2000. To profit from the year 2000, you could offer the month of December 2000 free. You will have a full year to follow up with your member reminding him/her of the prize at the end.

* Create a special partnership. Get your club to partner with a good winery or vineyard and create your own special club label on a nice bottle of wine for your member to enjoy on a cold wintry evening...compliments of your club.

Get a Result
Webster's definition of promotion is "to contribute to the growth of" your business. To contribute to growth continuously, always use one program to promote another. An example of this is "12 Days of Fitness," an ingenious program from Salesmakers (a consulting firm with offices in New York and Florida). As part of this program, members receive gift certificates to give to their friends as stocking stuffers. The certificates entitle the friends to use the club for those 12 days as guests.

The clubs that capitalize on this program create a T-shirt or sweatshirt specifically designed for new members who join the club after the holiday event. These are precisely the members (in the first 30 days of their membership) who will enjoy the promotional gift, and go out and tell others of their new club membership.

Other things to remember:

Tip 1: The entire program and holiday gift that are so special and showy during the holidays can be repeated midway through the year with a "Christmas in July" celebration.

Tip 2: Don't forget your internal customer. Your staff will enjoy, appreciate, and talk about getting a special holiday promotional gift, too.

We know that 80 percent of our new business comes from word of mouth or referrals. The promotional gifts above are all items that people will talk about and wear or display proudly. Your holiday gift promotions can be important to build your referral program, but they also can be equally important to your retention program.

- Sandy Coffman is president of her own company, Programming for Profit. She brings 25 years of professional business experience to successful club programming and staff training. Formerly part owner and program director of a large, multipurpose facility in Milwaukee, Wis., she now consults and presents for cubs worldwide, and does extensive work in marketing and training for the mature adult populations.

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