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Every industry is different when it comes to approaching the end of the year. Some businesses may view October through December as their busiest months, whereas others use the time to prepare for a new year and other upcoming busy seasons that don’t trend during the holidays.
Wherever you find yourself, I recommend that every business does these three things to end 2022 strong and to be well-prepared to enter 2023:
1. Invest more in your marketing — it’s tax-free
Buy anything related to marketing before year-end, and you may be able use it as a tax deduction on that year’s tax bill (of course, consult with your accountant on this). You may be tempted to hold onto your profits, but doing so just puts more money into the hands of the IRS — whereas reinvesting your own profits back into your business supports your future success.
It is also the perfect time to purchase full, year-long marketing campaigns, which can unlock huge bulk-buying discounts. You’ll end 2022 with a plan on how to grow moving forward and save money along the way.
Here are some examples of smart, fully deductible marketing investments that might lower your tax bill and pay dividends to your business in the form of more leads and sales:
Get more out of your website with website development and content creation: Your business’s website is one of those things that’s never fully finished. Testing a new offer, adding a new landing page, juicing a few more leads out of your traffic to improve conversion — there’s always something that can be tweaked or tested.
See if you can find a reputable company that offers website design, development or copywriting services you can pay for ahead of time (so it’s on the books for your 2022 expenses) to work on your website and its content. That way, you can give your website a year-end conversion boost (that should also bump up sales!) and you’ll be in credit so you can start 2023 with a plan to deliver dynamic and useful content, appeal to more visitors and optimize your site for lead generation.
Save big (and get a big tax write-off) by buying print advertising in bulk: Direct mail is less expensive when bought in bulk. As an example, if you order and mail 2500 postcards 20 separate times, purchasing each print run separately, you’ll spend 62% more on production costs than if you bought 50,000 cards at once and mailed them whenever you needed. (Full disclosure: This reflects pricing at my own company, PostcardMania, so I know the pricing is reliable).
Of course, there are a number of direct mail companies across the nation that you could work with that have their own pricing standards. I’m just giving you an idea of what to expect on price differences based on my own experience in the industry and with my company.
So, if you buy a direct mail marketing campaign that includes a large number of postcards or letters — I’ve seen neighborhood dentists order 500,000 postcards at once — then you can spread out your mailings throughout 2023 and save money (you’ll also save time by skipping the ordering, setup and printing processes, so it’s very win-win as long as you have the resources to pay upfront).
Bulk buying also reinforces the most important marketing principle I’ve learned — consistency. One mailing may bring in some leads, but it will not move the needle on growth long term. Pick a professional printing service or direct mail marketing company you trust to handle the mailings, and then you can roll them out weekly or monthly without stress.
Pre-pay a marketing agency or consultant for work in 2023: Depending on how large your business is, enlisting a marketing consultant or agency may be the best way to advertise your products and services throughout the year. Take some time to research your options, but keep in mind that you’ll want to work with someone who can tackle multiple mediums, like direct mail, digital ads, social media marketing and more. All of these aspects should be integrated into one cohesive marketing campaign that is tailored to deliver results. I also advise that you choose someone who’s been around at least a decade or with a robust client portfolio, since you don’t want to pay upfront for services and then be left stranded if they fold up shop. It all comes down to investing today in your business’s future. Where can you improve the most? Start there.
2. Ramp up gift card sales for a revenue influx and to reach new customers
People like purchasing gift cards around the holidays because they’re fast, convenient and take the guesswork out of choosing an item for friends and family. So, if you can incorporate gift cards into your promotions at the end of the year, you may see an uptick in sales.
According to Retail Dive, gift card purchases increased by 43% in 2021. While this could be due to supply issues or the rise in online purchases due to the pandemic, in any case, they have risen in popularity.
Gift cards don’t just offer perks for your customers; you’ll get to enjoy some benefits too. Consider the following:
Increase awareness of your brand and bring in new customers: Gift cards expose more people to your brand. Let’s say, for example, you own a salon or spa. One of your customers thinks of her mom because she’s been stressed lately and would enjoy a message and some pampering, so she buys her one of your gift cards. Since her mom has never heard of your brand, she’ll get to look into your business, try out your services, see what else you have to offer, and as long as you provide a good service, will return again and again long after the holidays have passed.
Drive up revenue: Most of us have received a gift card, gone to use it, and then realized the purchase total costs more than the amount of money on the card. PLI Card Marketing Solutions reported that 65% of gift card consumers spend an extra 38% beyond the value of the gift card, and Square found that 17% of their transactions where gift cards were used resulted in going over the balance, injecting more money into your bottom line.
You can make gift cards more enticing by including unique artwork on the cards, special packaging and other types of fun holiday wrapping to make the gesture look extra special.
Don’t forget to create discounts and promotions, such as buy two gift cards get one free; 25% off an entire purchase when $75 of gift cards are bought; or receive an exclusive gift when purchasing $100 or more in gift cards.
Lastly, don’t forget that many people don’t want to take the time to drive to a store to buy or use a gift card. Offer digital gift cards that can be purchased and delivered online. Square reported that eGift card sales doubled in 2020 and remained at high rates in 2021. Further, the U.S. gift and incentive card market is projected to increase to $221 billion by 2024.
3. Remind customers/patients to use their benefits
Health insurance deductibles generally reset with the new calendar year. If you are in the medical field, encourage your patients to use the rest of their benefits. Annual check-ups, specific procedures or other medical treatments should be completed before December 31st.
For businesses that are not in the medical field and have loyalty programs, send out promotions — like emails, social media posts and direct mail — that encourage customers to act fast and use their rewards before the New Year. Show them how many points/loyalty rewards they have and what amount they could save on purchases, then place the expiration date front and center. A pro tip is to include the customer’s first name on the postcard or email to grab their attention. A promotion like, “Michelle, use your 235 reward points before December 31st before they are gone forever!” will push customers to take action.
Adding first names to your marketing pieces may not be a huge additional cost, but it certainly will make a big difference in your results. One of our HVAC clients, Sparrow Engineering, for example, personalized their postcards and generated $8,000 in revenue, which amounted to an ROI of 894%. My company, PostcardMania, has a results department that reported dozens of success stories like this because of our personalized mailers.
Hopefully, taking these three simple actions won’t add too much work or stress to your already-full holiday plans, but I can promise you that the positive results you receive from using these marketing tips will pay off after the ball drops.