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Wrap your holiday sales pitch in sincerity

‘Tis the season to gather with family and friends, to get closer, to share stories and to exchange gifts.

‘Tis the season to celebrate, to reunite, to remember, to eat, to drink, to be merry, and, er, to sell something.

‘Tis the season of increased advertising. That’s great news for the struggling media businesses but short-lived once the first of next year rolls around and the after holiday sales are over, unless they have discovered that the Internet is their friend.

I’m getting a lot of mixed e-mail messages these days: “Our sincere wish for a Happy Thanksgiving,” followed by a sales message in the same card or e-mail wanting me to buy right now because it’s the holiday and I can get huge savings or a huge discount.

Which is it?

Are you really just wishing me a great holiday? Really? Or are you just using this holiday as an excuse to ask me to buy your stuff?

Here’s how to find out if your message is sincere or just a timely pitch:

1. Examine your messages. Who does the wording favor? Are you screaming, “Me, me, me, pick me?” Is there anything in your message that’s new? Or is it the same old “Wishing you a happy holiday, please buy our crap” message that everyone sends. If you wanna wish me a happy holiday, do it — all by itself. If you wanna sell me something, I’m OK with that, too. Just be honest and sincere with both messages.

2. Where’s the value? What part of this message will I keep? Are you sending me your favorite Robert Frost or Walk Whitman poem? Are you sending me a charming paragraph Mark Twain wrote 100 years ago that symbolizes the spirit of the season? Or are you just reducing price and slashing the profit right out of your business in an effort to sell me something?

2.5 What are you reading and deleting? Probably the same stuff you’re sending.

Now is the time to make a difference with value and value messages. Now is the time for sharing and giving. Why don’t you share something or give something that I perceive as valuable to me?

The message can still be about you — but one that helps me without asking me to buy something. I believe those are separate messages.

If you sell clothing, give me a list of five new things to wear to a holiday dinner or gathering, of how to wow at the holiday party. That’s all. Don’t offer me 20 percent off. Don’t even tell me your extended hours for the holidays; do that in your weekly e-mail magazine or newsletter (Oh, wait. You don’t have one).

So, as I’m completing this article, the perfect corporate e-mail arrives. It’s from Dale Carnegie’s offices in New Jersey. Here ‘tis:

Jeffrey,

Everyone at Dale Carnegie Training of Central and Southern N.J. would like to wish you and yours an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday feast this coming Thursday.

As we take the Thanksgiving Day break from our hectic business and personal lives, it is the perfect time to reflect on the things to be thankful for: our family, friends and, yes, our business associates, graduates and future graduates.

To ensure your Thanksgiving dinner is a huge hit this year, we wanted to share with you a great website by Betty Crocker that lists a number of cooking tips and ideas. If you or someone you know is cooking this year’s holiday dinner, it is a great link to visit. Click here to visit this website.

I clicked and found every recipe I could imagine, from the most trusted American name in cooking — all with no cost and no offer to buy anything. Maybe you can use this as an example for your holiday message next year.

Here’s the holiday tip. Be in touch with all your customers with a value message every week and you won’t look like a hypocrite at holiday time. A weekly e-zine would also make you and your business official members of the 21st century. Ho, ho, ho.

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of “The Sales Bible” and “The Little Red Book of Selling.” President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs sales meetings and conducts Internet training on selling and customer service at www.trainone.com.

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