Sing it with me! Ooooon the first day of holiday marketing my marketing team gave to me…
Can you hear it now? The lovely sing-song of the holidays creeping nearer, faster each year. Business owners of all sizes have an idea of the incredible value that holiday marketing can bring to their business. In fact, some retailers make as much as 40 percent of their revenue for the entire year during Black Friday weekend alone!
The fact is you don’t have to be a gift-wrapper salesman to already be well underway for a hard dose of holiday spirit. This time of year can be incredibly stressful and overwhelming, especially if you’re just at the thresholds of startup-dom. There’s so much to do and so little time to do it!
This kind of holiday overwhelm is exactly where businesses tend to lose out on a time of year that should be rewarding for their business — and rewarding for you personally!
December Starts Now
Despite every part of your being that tells you it’s “too soon” to be thinking about Christmas, you’re going to have to get past that because the fact of the matter is, even if you don’t roll out your holiday marketing at an unreasonably early date, you should already be preparing for it.
Society is split by “Christmas-all-year-round lovers” and “the rest of us,” who feel robbed of what was once a unique and special time of year before businesses started rolling out Christmas tree decorations at end of September! But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be talking about Christmas now — or long before now!
Hear me out. Businesses that are rolling out Christmas trees next to their Halloween candy have been preparing for this moment since Valentines Day. Yeah…
For smaller businesses, the brainstorming sessions for great holiday marketing ideas should begin as early as August or September. December starts now. So, let’s get started with a few tips on how to stay organized and keep calm through the holiday season!
Start planning your holiday marketing campaign right now!
Week 1: Making a List, Checking It Twice
- What is your long-term strategy?
- What are your last-minute product/service promotions for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and last-minute shoppers?
- Will you have a shipping guarantee?
- What are your limited-time offers going to be?
- How do the holidays align with your brand’s personality?
- What will you do internally for your employees, as well as externally for your customers/followers/partners?
- Are you going to need posters, flyers, online marketing tools, or social media graphics?
- Will you be doing any direct-mail postcards this year?
- What do you have that big box stores don’t have?
- What will your email marketing campaign strategy be and how often will you be emailing?
- Do you have remarketing campaigns set up?
- Is your website ready for increased traffic?
- Do you have social media influencers you can employ?
- Have you written those important holiday gift guide blog posts and participated in a guest blog article about it?
- Do you have any gifts and giveaways you need made?
Week 2: The Nightmare Before Christmas
Be sure your winter and holiday business hours are up to date on Google Maps, Yelp, etc.
Get your readers and followers into the holiday spirit with a splash of Halloween across your social media and email marketing campaigns.
Company morale is key this time of year your employees are working hard during a season where working hard is hard to do! Have a desk-decorating contest at work or do a little cubicle trick-or-treating event.
Bring the festivities into the office. Discuss your end of year strategies in style as you talk about the “tricks” of the season and the “treats” of being proactive with your end-of-year business strategy.
Be found! Make sure your products are searchable (an all-year-round project) by mentioning your featured products in popular gift guides, blog posts, and having correct keywords and tags for every new addition to your e-commerce setup. Take advantage of those, “Top Gift Ideas…” long-tail keywords.
Week 3: Be Grateful
- Be sure you have no remaining Halloween posts still lurking in your social media strategy.
- Get started on rolling out your November themed strategy.
- Get in the spirit with a gratitude blog post and some social media thank you notes!
Show your employees you care and start a food drive or make plans to volunteer this holiday season.
Week 4: Winter Is Coming!
- Officially roll out your November- and/or Thanksgiving-themed social media posts, email marketing, flyers, mailers, etc.
- Start rolling out your holiday-themed online content in droves — blog posts, holiday-themed product images, Black Friday teasers, and campaigns to subscribers for those holiday specials and promotions.
- For businesses not in the United States, roll out a general fall theme. If you’re not in the Northern Hemisphere, now is the time for those beach craze vibes and sand-built snowmen.
Week 5: Amp Up Your Customer Service Skills
- Hire a temp employee to keep your customer service always-answering. Have someone available 24/7 on live chat, social media messenger, or even simple text message support.
- Make sure you’re answering emails daily!
- Don’t leave a social media message behind!
Week 6: Go Live for Black Friday & Small Business Saturday
- Your social media posts and email marketing should already be highlighting what’s coming, but now is the time to go STRONG with your Black Friday and Small Business Saturday promotions.
- Live stream your busy holiday business processes to a social media channel. Let your customers get to know how you’re in the spirit and what it takes to deliver your product/service on time.
- Send out your Black Friday and/or Small Business Saturday email teasers and prep your Cyber Monday announcements.
- If you have a product that will be on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and/or Cyber Monday special, increase your social media presence on those days and carefully time your email marketing. Email marketing is the main push for these last-minute promotions and quick-minute sales.
Week 7: Go Cyber Monday Crazy
- Make sure your email marketing is on point to send reminders on those last minute deals and notify of flash sales. Couple your email messaging with matching social media posts.
- Be very clear with customer service contact information, shipping times and costs, and pricing — these three points are the main deciding factors that help a consumer decide whether or not to make an online purchase.
Week 8: Prep Those Last-Minute Promotions for Super Saturday
- Keep customers “in the know” about what products are still available and when they need to purchase by to receive the order on time.
- Do what it takes to guarantee your shipping and be prepared to meet demands.
- Offer last minute promotions for Super Saturday — the last Saturday before Christmas.
- Consider holding a specific promotion or product until Dec 1 (such as coupling two of your popular products together) to encourage those last-minute shoppers to buy.
- Partner with another local company to offer a package deal.
- Offer a gift-giving option where you deliver a gift basket or wrapped package for last-minute shoppers who don’t have time to wrap and deliver gifts themselves.
- If you’re in the holiday service industry (i.e. you hang Christmas lights), get your customers on board by letting them know your prices are about to double if they don’t act fast!
Week 9: Get Ahead Of the New Year
- As you receive last-minute orders and compile data on your business success in these final months, consider what you’ve learned and how you might apply it to your business development and marketing strategy for the new year. Need a little help? Take advantage of our small business marketing services.
- Start compiling your reporting from throughout 2018 (Q1, Q2, and Q3) so you can come back from a holiday break with little to do other than move straight into new, exciting plans for your business!
- Make a draft of your specials you might offer throughout the new year new products, new designs, new services, or New Year’s-themed products.
- Schedule your New Year’s-themed social media content, emails, and blog posts so you have nothing to worry about during the last week of the year! (Every business owner’s dream…)
Week 10: Throw a Party
- Take a quick breath!
- Throw an office party.
- Throw a party for clients
Week 11: Take Time Off
- Work–life balance is important, and this time of year can be extremely intense. That’s why so many small business owners miss out on fantastic holiday marketing opportunities. It often feels like it is just too hard to do it all! Make it easier to feel like you can do it everything, day in and day out, by planning your time off. Take a break during the last week of the year. Lock that laptop or cell phone in a gift box and mark it DO NOT OPEN UNTIL THE NEW YEAR.
- Plan ahead for your time off so everything that needs to happen when you return is already good to go!
Week 12: Ring In the New Year
- Go live with your New Year’s announcements! Hopefully you’ve scheduled them already and don’t have to worry too much about your messaging during the first few days of the year. You should still be recovering from vacation mode!
- Send a thank-you message to your holiday shoppers letting them know that you’re grateful for their loyalty and that you hope to see them in the new year. Personalize if possible.
- Create your 2018 Business Development Plan — how are you going to grow this year? What do you want to do with your business? Make a prediction and turn it into your New Year’s Resolution.
- Have a team meeting and set the strategy for the new year.
- Involve your team members in determining your 2019 strategy and setting high-level goals for each quarter.
In the end, what is most important is to find all the reasons there are to enjoy this incredibly busy time of year. As business owners and executives, we often overlook the enchantment of a season and the wholeness of completing a year because we are too busy focusing on end-of-quarter and end-of-financial year strategies and numbers. These things are important. But being proactive with our work, involving others, and enjoying the extra creativity we get to put into our work during this time of year can turn around a stressful season.
Have any extra tips, tricks, or things you review during the holiday season? Share them in the comments below! I’d love to hear more of your ideas.