As always, I tend to have an inquisitive eye as I move around our city of Kigali. The other day, I was in a commuter taxi and as I looked out of the window I noticed a small supermarket that had been unusually decorated.
I wondered what the occasion was. Then like a strong wave it hit me, Christmas season is around the corner.
How fast time flies. Was it not just the other day that Tunisians were demonstrating against the government of Ben Ali? Not quite if you remember that it was in January and we are now already half way in November.
Yes the hard truth is that 2011 is now almost done and dusted and if you have not achieved any of your resolutions for the year you might as well consider sticking to the same ones for 2012.
The decorated supermarket that I saw at Muhima on my way to town is Indian owned. Indians are renowned for their business savvy skills world over. In countries like Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania the business techniques of the Indians (and Pakistanis) are known to always keep them ahead of the game.
It is, therefore, not so surprising to find that the Indian or Indians who run the supermarket in Muhima are smart enough not to wait for December before putting up Christmas decorations. It is that time of the year when the holiday season leading up to Christmas and the New Year see businesses outdoing themselves to get the extra franc or dollar from people who are more than willing to spend.
The holiday season will often see substantial sales for many with anything to sell. The Americans even have what they call “Black Friday”, a day when the holiday shopping bonanza kicks off.
Smart promotions will always take the day and this includes those that are well timed. It is pointless to announce offers in the middle of December when you obviously know that salary earners may not see more money until the beginning of January, a time when they will probably be thinking of school fees for a son or relative.
Clarity about what the promotion is meant to achieve is very important. Are you interested in making huge sales, clearing stock, strengthening customer loyalty or simply attracting new customers?
Businesses should also avoid the obvious promotions by trying to be more creative. There is more to a promotion than just sponsoring a concert where the MC keeps mentioning your company name. Something new and exciting is sometimes a better idea than going with the old plan that worked well last year. Twelve months is a long time so try to give people something new.
It is important to know when one promotion should end and another should begin. If in December the theme to ride with is Christmas and the beginning of the new year then you should remember that by the third day of January people have moved on and are thinking about the beginning of school, work and other concerns.
And like I said sometime back, do not forget to stop radio and TV adverts as well as bringing down all the billboards and posters after the promotion has ended. Christmas being a religious event, remember to sensitive to religious sentiments too.