Contact Us

About Bill Collier

Helpful Business Links

E-Learning Center



Cut Through the Holiday Marketing Clutter

The Holidays seem to start earlier every year, Your customers and prospects, whether B-to-B or B-to-C, are bombarded by marketing messages from every direction. Let’s explore ways to help you cut through all this clutter, get your message noticed, and achieve your desired results.

Know Your Audience

No matter what time of year, any marketing effort should start with some homework. Break your overall target group down into segments. Don’t deal in generalities – get specific. Look for answers to questions like these:

  • Who are your target customers?
  • What do they have in common demographically?
  • If B-to-B, what specific industries are you targeting?
  • Are you focusing on a certain geography?
  • What buying criteria do your target customers use?
  • Where do your target customers get their information?
  • How do your target customers get their information?

Armed with this information, you’re now better able to craft your message and your offer, and to choose the marketing mediums which give you the best chance of success.

Hone Your Message

Your marketing message should answer this question:

Why should your customers buy from you and not your competition?

Some people prefer to call this your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. Whatever you call it, this question is vitally important. Rather than assembling a long laundry list of features and benefits, focus like a laser beam on the answer to this question.

Finding your USP can be hard work. Why are you the clear choice? Is it customer service? Experience? Location? Are you a one-stop-shop? Are you a specialist?

Two things to remember as you look for your USP:

  • If your competitors can make the same claim, it isn’t “unique.”
  • Beware using price as your USP (unless you happen to be Wal-Mart.) There’s always someone willing to go out of business faster than you.

To boost the credibility factor, include a testimonial from a satisfied customer.

Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse

Increase the response to your marketing materials by including a call to action every chance you get.

What specific action do you want the reader to take after seeing your marketing piece? Call you? Visit your website or store? Don’t assume that they’ll know what to do. Tell ‘em!

Beyond a simple call to action, consider making an offer that is both valuable and low-risk, such as:

  • Free sample
  • Try our product or service free for 30 days
  • Discount coupon
  • Free financing
  • Free delivery or in-home set-up
  • Fully guaranteed – full refund if not 100% satisfied
  • Sign up for email or hard copy newsletter
  • Sign up to gain access to “members only” section of website

Getting prospects to give you their contact information is a great way to grow your prospect database.

Choose Your Marketing Vehicles

The selection of specific marketing media – print ads, direct mail, email, and so on – should not be taken lightly. Not only will this choice make or break your campaign, it has a dramatic impact on your costs.

Earlier I encouraged you to know your audience. When you do this homework, it will help determine which marketing vehicles to use. The questions related to how and where your target customers get their information will be especially useful.

Following are three of the most common marketing vehicles and a list for each, identifying what you can do to maximize their effectiveness.

Direct Mail

  • Send to a specific person by name, not just a title like “Owner” or “Resident”
  • Stand out from all the other mail - make your mail piece an usual size or shape.
  • Make your piece intentionally “bulky” and impossible to throw away without opening. Insert a sample or other dimensional item to build curiosity.
  • Put a message on the envelope to quickly gain interest.
  • Remember that people sort their mail over the trash can!

Print Ads

  • Use color – especially if other advertisers use black and white
  • Don’t run an ad without a powerful call to action or offer. Increase urgency with a deadline.
  • An insert can be more effective (and sometimes less expensive) than an ad in the same publication. Don’t ignore this often under-utilized option.


  • Create a compelling subject line. Make the recipient want to open and read your email.
  • Keep it brief and focused
  • Use HTML format, colors, eye-catching images and fonts to increase visual appeal
  • Avoid attachments for bulk emails – they’ll get trapped in spam filters and possibly put you on the bad list, blocking all future emails to that recipient
  • Make it valuable. Don’t wear out your welcome by only sending marketing messages. Email is a great medium for delivering useful advice and information to your customers and prospects.

Close the Loop

So, how do you know if your marketing is working? For any marketing effort, always: • Measure and learn from your results. • Use this information to improve the effectiveness of future campaigns.

In Summary …

The time of year leading up to the Holidays is a challenging time for marketers. But good research, planning and execution are the tools you need to cut through the clutter and get your message noticed. Happy holidays and happy marketing!


Bill Collier is the author of “How to Succeed as a Small Business Owner … and Still Have a Life” and is the St. Louis area coach for The Great Game of Business. He helps businesses teach their employees to think and act like owners. He can be reached at 314-221-8558 or



© 2005-2016 Collier Business Advisors, LLC       314-221-8558

Business Coaching & Consulting · Speaking & Training

Business Success Roundtable

Business & Financial Literacy Workshops · The Great Game of Business

 AddThis Social Bookmark Button