Marketing Strategy

Troubleshooting the January Sales Slump

For some businesses, January is a sales boon - but for most, the post-holiday spending hangover is real. Start the new year on the right foot with these tips:


Unless you work in the fitness industry or are a credit card company, January tends to be a slow month for the majority of companies. Many chief marketing officers treat this as inevitable.  But wouldn’t it be better to start Q1 on a strong note? 

There are strategies that you and your marketing team can deploy to drive sales in January, using a creative approach to content marketing and tapping into your referral marketing community.  This will be easy for you if you have a relationship with your referral marketing ambassador community, who want to drive sales as much as you do!

Create Deferred Payment Promotions

If your product or service is paid for with subscriptions or used over a prolonged period of time, package and merchandise your product, so there’s no fee to commit or subscribe in January. Naturally, you can adjust the price point so the payment that hits in February covers what would have been paid in January. But outwardly, you signal to your customers that you understand January can feel stretchy, and you don’t want to contribute to any financial stress at the start of a new year.

Tap into Your Customers’ “New Year, New You” Upward Spiral

Part of the January sales slump is easily traceable to the degree of self-loathing that sets in for many consumers in January, feeling guilty from overindulging in food and shopping in December and feeling anxious about the credit card bill that is soon to arrive.

If your product or service is one that cultivates a sense of self-improvement or an upward spiral— fitness, wellness, e-learning—use marketing language that discusses how your product eases any unpleasant feelings from holiday overindulgence and is part of the “new year, new you” mindset.

Still, you can zoom out further: is your product or service tangentially related to your customer or client improving some aspect of their life or business? Lean into that and make a meal out of it. Use marketing language like, “Decide that this is the year to X [your product’s intended benefit].”  Even if you sell hobby supplies or another product that typically isn’t January adjacent, you can conjure your customer’s imagination around how their life will improve when they use your product or service.

Employ the Positive Psychology of #TreatYourself

If your product is a luxury item or one that comes with a sense of indulgence, tap into consumers’ never-quite-extinguished desire to treat themselves.  Studies have shown that Millennials in particular, do more “treat yourself” spending than any other demographic.  The key, in January, is to inspire customers to decide that this is the one time they’ll have a #treatyourself moment.  All you have to do is position your product as being the one expense truly worthy of their reduced self-treating spending budget this month.

You can even state this explicitly in a charming social media post: “January is about resolutions, and that spirit of renewed vigor is important. Yet studies have shown that too much restriction, especially when it’s unsustainable, paradoxically contributes to failing at a new goal. You can treat yourself, just the right amount, with [our product].”


Create a January Sales Challenge for Your Ambassadors

If you have a system to communicate with your referral marketing ambassadors and motivate them to share your product with those in their circle of influence, January is the perfect time to ramp up your ambassador engagement efforts.

Consider creating a special January challenge where your marketing team will award two prizes: one to the ambassador who drives the highest sales in January and one to the ambassador who creates the most unique or thoughtful January milestone marketing campaign. Keeping your referral marketing community excited and motivated is one of the best investments in marketing time and resources you can make.

The Ambassador platform is designed so referral marketing ambassadors can access brands’ marketing collateral and create their own campaigns to drive sales to their audience or the people in their circle of influence. Ambassador developed this functionality because we know that any company’s customers have their own ideas and extremely personalized insight about when a product or service feels most timely or relevant to the people they reach or know.

For example, a company that sells gear for road races is not going to be able to keep track of every 10K across the country so they can reach the people signing up for each race. If that brand has an engaged ambassador in every major city and each city’s ambassador knows they can earn revenue when they create a new campaign and insert themselves in the buzz around a new regional race, everyone wins.

Ambassador encourages marketing teams to invite a paradigm shift: relinquish the idea that the marketing team has to come up with all the ideas, predict all the marketing milestones, or retain possession of the marketing calendar. Marketing teams can encourage ambassadors to lead with when or why a product or sales event feels particularly relevant… and create their own campaigns.  If you encourage your referral marketing Ambassadors to take the reins, you may find they come up with some great ideas to drive sales, even in January.

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