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Christmas Is Coming, Where’s Your Goose?

I know, it’s summertime, but I’m running Christmas carols through my head. Maybe it’s just me.

“Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat,

Won’t you please to put a penny in the old man’s hat.”

In boardroom and marketing departments, in buyers’ meetings and manufacturers’ sales presentations, there are a lot of people — smart people — trying to figure out what will happen when “the goose gets fat.”

What is gonna make the next holiday season great?

No, that’s not a rhetorical question, I really want to know. What will people be buying (in droves) and what we will be selling (profitably) when Black Friday comes. (I think that’s a Steely Dan song.)

Years past have been the Year of the Flatscreen, the Year of the Laptop, the VCR, or DVD, or Blu-ray or the Karaoke Machine … there was even, if I recall what I wrapped and put under our tree, the Year of the Bread Maker. I think last year was the Year of the 3D/Interactive TV. How’d that work for you?

I hear this is the Year of the Tablet.

Anybody really excited about that? No, really. Is anyone, other than Steve Jobs and his stockholders, making plans for what you are going to do with your manufacturing profits, your retail margins or your commission checks?

Who is getting excited about the coming holiday sales season?

Who’s a little bit worried? Raise your hands.

Yeah, I thought so.

Maybe I’m wrong, or maybe I’m not paying attention, but I think it’s going to be a hard fall. (And please feel free to interpret the word “fall” as more than a season.)

We can blame it on the economy, which admittedly is in the tank. We can blame it on the numbers of unemployed and under-employed who want to be your customers, but may have a tough time rationalizing a major consumer electronics purchase when the rent needs to get paid.

Maybe we can blame it on the marketplace that over the past few years drove down the margins on the products that people readily purchased. Or let’s blame it on the volume of products we successfully and often profitably sold over recent years. (It is tough to sell a complete home video/audio/automated system to a household that already has one. But maybe they’ll want another TV for the bedroom or the kitchen. Ka-ching?)

Let’s face facts. A tablet is not a home video installation. A free smartphone (with contract) is not a digital-SLR camera with extra lenses, memory card, case and warranty. An iPhone cover is not a bag of cables, screen cleaner and a power center.

“When Black Friday comes, I’ll stand down by the door …” (It is a Steely Dan song!)

What will the line of people be waiting for? A $300 42-inch TV, a $150 tablet … what? What do you have to sell?

It’s true there are fewer storefronts selling this year than last season and new revenue may come from the volume of customers who visit your store because the competitor that used to be down the street is no longer there.

Maybe you’ve been savvy and smart enough over the past months to boost your Internet presence so you can get those customers to spend their Black Friday on your website instead of waiting for hours in the cold in your parking lot.

Let’s assume you have a plan, or you’ll pull one together in the next few weeks.

I have no idea how fat the goose is going to be. But I fear there is no golden egg … maybe just an egg.

“When Black Friday comes, I’m gonna stake my claim …” (more Steely Dan).

Be you a manufacturer, a distributor, a retailer, or a salesperson working the floor, it may only be summer, but Christmas is coming …

Find your goose. Now.

John Rice is a writer, consultant and occasional sales professional. Komedia Group provides marketing, training and informational services to companies in the electronics, automotive and pharmaceutical fields. He can be reached at (267) 980-5919, via email at [email protected] or at