Ever feel at a loss on getting gifts for everyone on your list, and disheartened by the idea of presenting your loved ones trivial presents like chocolates and bath bombs?
Personalized gifts tug at the heartstrings, and the custom “home décor” market provides products to curate that moment. Such as a wooden recipe box sublimated with grandma’s 100-year-old recipe, a personalized sign for a mantel or bar, or even an engraved pet tag for the beloved family dog.
Business wire claims the personalized gift industry grossed over $31.36 billion in revenue in 2017. Industry analysts forecast the Personalized Gifts market to grow at a CAGR or a compound annual growth rate of 9.52% during 2018-2023.
While it’s great to acquire new customers, the easiest way to increase your profit margin is by offering new products, like holiday gifts, to current patrons. Pre-existing clients are a great place to start. They know, and like you, so already, you have overcome several hurdles.
For the 2019 holiday season, awards and trophy shops have the opportunity to position themselves as a place to purchase gifts for the upcoming festivities. Often, adding personalized home décor to your inventory requires business owners to shift their mindset as well. Specifically, the trope that November and December are the slow months for awards & trophy businesses.
“Let customers know that you can also solve their gift-giving dilemmas,” urges Dan Messerschmidt, National Sales Manager for JDS Industries, Sioux Falls, SD. “With one stop into your store or website, they can get impressive, personalized gifts for the hard-to-shop-for people on their list.”
Reaching your audience at the right place, at the right time
When selling a product or service, always consider the buyer demographic, or a target audience. A target audience is a specific group of people you want to reach with your marketing and who are most likely to buy your products. They share similar characteristics, like demographics, interests.
For instance, the president of Condé Systems, David Gross, Mobile, AL, notes their sweet spot in purchasing power is young millennial women, around 20-years-old through their late 20s.
Because Condé knows who their target audience is, they can create products with them in mind.
For the 2019 holiday season, they anticipate hot sellers to be wall-art, such as patterns and monograms. To appease their target audience, Condé created a new dry erase board in the shape of a speech bubble for people to leave each other notes.
Another way to think this is what home décor you choose to focus on could depend, in part, on where you live, what the population looks like and what influence these groups provide.
How early is early?
We all know big box stores launch their holiday marketing campaigns right after Labor Day. Adopt this early bird attitude for your business, and start your Christmas shopping ahead of time. The Marketing Director for the Gavel Co., Rachel Jacobs, Lincolnwood, IL, explains how some products, especially custom ones, require a longer lead-time. By marketing for the holidays as soon as possible, it ensures all orders are completed on time.
In fact, a 2018 report by the National Retail Federation reveals fewer Americans shopped either on or offline from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday in 2018 than in 2017. However, overall holiday spending still rose in 2018 because people cross items off their gift list before Thanksgiving as retailers roll out the sales earlier and earlier.
Gross agrees that getting an early start is the best approach for reaping a profitable holiday season. He suggests a way to expand for shop owners to expand their reach in the community is to collaborate with local nonprofits with fundraisers. This could look like selling personalized ornaments to raise money for a cause. One side of said ornament could be the organization’s name and logo, and the other could feature the fundraiser’s message.
Identify who the decision-maker is at the organization and reach out with your proposal. It’s an all-around win: you get paid, the person who purchases the product has a keepsake to pass down for generations, and you establish local connections.
Another way to jumpstart your holiday sales season is to connect with local pet groomers. Talk with the owner of the groomer’s shop, and inquire if you can leave some product in their storefront for customers to browse while waiting for their pets. The pet product line is a large and profitable niche and covers an assortment of products ranging from ornaments, leashes, collars, and more.
Gross attests that forging community connections is likened to hiring a sales force that does the extra leg work for you.
How to reach your audience through bricks and clicks
Messerschmidt remarks that for numerous dealers, especially awards and trophy brick and mortars, being recognized as a place to go for holiday gifts requires shifting your customer’s perceptions of your business. Remain cognizant that getting consumers to change their buying pattern can take multiple reminders, whether that is through in-person interaction, email blasts, or Facebook posts.
Businesses need to communicate the message that they are the place to get gifts long before the holiday season and continue to remind people what they offer. For online businesses, it’s not quite as tricky, but still necessary.
While it may not be possible to utilize every communication and marketing method available, once again, dealers and shops need to consider their target audience and where they spend the most time online. Examine what way would be most effective in reaching your target audience.
For example, Regional Sales Manager for Marco Awards, Michael Cornicello reports that Marco’s website’s banner features products. Around the holiday season, their website displays items for dealers to feature in their showrooms and their websites. As an added feature, retailers can download product images and templates to assist in their own marketing.
An effective website presence serves as the Yellow Pages for retailers. Increase your investment in a website hooked up with Google.
During the holiday season, Marco Awards Group sends out daily email blasts to their customers. They could contain information on everything from sales, closeouts, seasonal items and more, depending upon the season and occasion.
Marco also has a Facebook page that is updated often with product information, industry news, and more. While ordering and other forms of communication are still done on the website or with sales staff, Cornicello encourages businesses to think of their Facebook page as an awards industry news feed.
Optimize your showroom
In any showroom, there are several “hot spots” to enhance. The front windows draw foot traffic. Near the counter and cash register is another prime opportunity, explains Messerschmidt. And just inside the front door, you can let everyone know that you carry personalizable holiday products.
For in-store placement, Cornicello suggests a feature display table that allows customers to browse the seasonal items. He notes that customers like a small sample in the showroom with a sign saying, “please see our full display in the rear of the showroom.” This way, patrons have traveled past the daily award products to see what is featured and get an idea of other items you sell.
Consider making a list of the types of home décor items you would like to offer your customers. When you build your display, making it the most dominant thing in the room. Instead of displaying products, get creative, and add props, such as pumpkins and gourds for Thanksgiving. Consider using a computer monitor or a chase light sign to draw attention to it.
If you take care of the samples, you can use them for several years, so it won’t be nearly as expensive or time-consuming as the first time around.
Under the notion of never quite having enough counter space, Gross also recommends acquiring flat-screen TVs in your showroom to oscillate high-quality pictures of featured products. Consider adding some props so the customer can envision it in their home, like a cup of hot cocoa on Christmas coasters, ornaments hanging from a tree, a knife and vegetables on a personalized cutting board.
Product pictures can be repurposed in your digital advertising as well. You can use these photos on your website, email blasts, in newsletters, and other forms of digital advertising you do.
Jacobs believes that Gavel Co.’s salt and pepper grinders, hardwood cutting boards, tablet holders, and wine boxes and caddies will continue to be great sellers this season. These products exude beauty and function.
For Marco Awards Group, their best gift ideas can be found in the “Big Book” on their website. Cornicello anticipates their clocks, wine gift sets, cutting boards as well as many of the decorated items finished with sublimation or UniNet printers will be big sellers.
The effort dealers put into marketing products for the holiday season is only the beginning. Once you have customers purchasing gifts from you, there are numerous opportunities throughout the year to repeatedly serve your customers, like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, weddings, births, graduations – just to name a few.
Using these touchstones as an opportunity to reconnect with your customers year-round will help them regard you as a place to get gifts in the future. Now is the time to set your plans in motion for a successful holiday season.
Above all, break free from the confines of your comfort zone.
“Don’t let your opinions get in the way of making money,” explains Gross. He believes that your clients should be making the decisions on what products they want to purchase, and what owners think will sell are irrelevant.
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