5 Reasons to Start Your Holiday Promotions Now

Article by Megan Denny

According to the National Retail Federation, the average shopper will spend $935.58 on holiday gifts this year. Read on for our 2016 holiday marketing game plan for dive retailers.

Start NOW
To ensure you capture the maximum amount of holiday dollars – don’t wait to start your holiday promotions.

Step One: Put On Your Santa Hat*
*Or applicable holiday apparel

Look around your store and identify what would make a great gift:

  • For someone with a $20 budget, $50 budget, $100 budget, etc.
  • For divers who have kids.
  • For a new diver, experienced diver, traveller, etc.
  • For someone who doesn’t know a thing about diving.

Write down all your ideas. Then, consider what items could be bundled together and how you might create a unique package. For example:

A tropical travel package might include items you already carry: a mesh bag, spring straps, defog, gear marking pen, but why not some reef safe sunscreen or a rash guard? Or a portable luggage scale? A specially-priced bundle of items is both convenient and nearly impossible to comparison shop.


Step Two: Make Their List and Check It Twice
A dive shop won’t be top-of-mind for the average holiday shopper. They will, however, be looking online for ideas.

Last year, PADI’s blog received nearly 7,000 visits from divers Googling scuba diver gift ideas. Thousands more page views came from social media followers who clicked on our holiday gift idea post and forwarded it to their friends.


Promote your great gift ideas online early and often. Shoppers want to give the perfect gift… but they don’t want to work too hard to find it. Moreover, studies have shown: people who shop both in person and online spend 66% more than those who only go to stores.

Inspire customers to buy from you.

  • Post the gift idea list you made in step one as a page on your website or blog.
  • Promote one item or bundle each day on social media.
  • Include the gift idea list in your email newsletter.
  • Use the list to create a flyer for your store.

If you don’t have time to create a comprehensive gift idea list, ask your staff for their favorite items in the shop and share that “Staff Favorites” list with customers (hey, maybe they’ll get something). You could also create a list of “best selling items for 2016.”

Whatever list you make, it’s critical to create a “Best Scuba Diver Gift Ideas” page on your website or blog to take advantage of online shopping searches. Include an eLearning link on your page to profit from holiday shoppers who are ready to buy now.

Step Three: Offer An “Amazing” Deal

What looks like a grand bargain to shoppers doesn’t have to kill your profit margins. Consider what value-added services you could bundle with a camera purchase or equipment package.

Include a one-hour pool session, equipment specialist course, airfill card, etc with purchase. Then add the value to the “regular” price of the package. Lastly, price the package to preserve your profit margins, using the value-added service as padding.

For example, an $1800 equipment package plus an Equipment Specialist course might retail for $1900. Since your cost to conduct this class should be fairly low, you might offer the whole package for $1800 – a $100 savings!!! The customer receives valuable information about their gear, and you get them back in the store after the holidays.

No matter the offer, it’s important to create special holiday deals. According to the National Retail Federation:

  • 73% of shoppers say they will choose a retailer based on sales or special offers.
  • 58% of consumers plan to take advantage of holiday discounts for non-holiday purchases – spending an average of $140 per person.

Step Four: Promote Your Deal Via Email… Really.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to your inbox, someone starts another 12 days of Christmas email series, amiright? Alas, research indicates email is the #1 way to target holiday shoppers, even millennials.


Subject Lines Matter
Your email will be duking it out with hundreds of others in the user’s inbox. Make it count, get crazy if you have to, for example: WE’RE GIVING AWAY A PONY…who wouldn’t click on that?

Even if the pony giveaway is actually a drawing for a pony bottle, you got the user to open your email. Mission accomplished. Here are some additional Tips for Holiday Marketing Emails from MailChimp.

Include Buy Now options
Always include an option and incentive for readers to buy now. You can’t know what “amazing” deal is up next in the customer’s inbox.

If you don’t have online checkout on your website, there’s always eLearning. Customers can buy an eLearning gift pass from you for any PADI online course including Open Water, ReActivate and Scuba Tune-Up.


Make A Holiday eCard
All you need to make a great holiday eCard is a handful of photos. Grab some from your 2016 Facebook albums, and use a popular tool like JibJab or Elf Yourself.

Not into goofy cards? Invite customers to submit their best topside and underwater images from 2016. Put together a slideshow using Animoto, it’s free, easy, and the result is remarkably professional. Your customers will look forward to receiving your eCard to find out if their images made the cut.

You can also use Animoto to create a custom holiday greeting. A local car dealership made a fun, shareable video with just a few images shot on a mobile device.

A holiday eCard will stand out from the typical holiday promotional emails, but it’s still a marketing piece. Create something your customers will want to share, and you’ve got instant word of mouth advertising!

STEP FIVE: Make Shopping an Event
Give shoppers a reason to visit your store by creating a memorable shopping experience:

  • If you have a pool, offer an Underwater Santa holiday card photo opp. or run a Bubblemaker session to keep kids occupied while parents go shopping.
  • Host an after-hours night with special deals for your best customers. For the average retailer:  5% of customers account for 35% of sales.
  • Choose a day where a portion of sales will be donated to Project AWARE or other non-profit.

Use in-store signage
If things get busy and a customer is left to browse on their own, they will appreciate you’ve put the defog next to the masks with a sign that says “don’t forget the defog!”

Simple signs like, “customer favorite” or “staff pick” can help guide customer decisions. There’s no doubt they’re looking for help: a 2016 Google study found: 71% of shoppers who use smartphones for research while in-store say that it’s become an important part of their experience.

Customer and staff appreciation night
Sometimes a great way to sell things is by not overtly selling things. Invite your best customers and staff to an evening event with drinks and snacks. A raffle, awards, and an evening of talking story strengthens the bonds between your business and the people who make it what it is. Browse PADI Gear for staff recognition and customer appreciation gift ideas.


If you’ve already implemented all the ideas above. Kudos! Here are a few more ideas from the field that might not work for everyone, but are worth considering.

Offer delivery – some people have more money than time. Others want to avoid having boxes delivered to their home. Consider offering free delivery for purchases over a certain amount, or within a certain distance from the store.

Layaway – for customers wanting to get a little something for themselves, layway can be a good option. Do your research before implementing this program.

Promotional credit – offer customers credit based on how much they buy. For example: spend $1000 or more, get 10% credit towards a purchase in 2017.

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