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Posted on December 22, 2015 | Angela Shugarts
The Starbucks red cups made their debut about the same time Fall leaves began to drop. News anchors were reporting on holiday shopping trends earlier than Halloween parties were planned. Every year the holiday prep seems to happen earlier and earlier—and we see it in retail stores. When you visit Walmart or Target, prepare yourself for a cornucopia of holiday products spanning from Christmas all the way through St. Patty’s Day.
However, there is something we can learn from these retailers…the importance of planning ahead for the holidays. As we know, it’s a crazy time for large and small business owners and staff, which begs the question: why NOT start your holiday marketing planning early?! It will save time as things ramp up at the end of the year and allow you to be armed and ready for the rush that may ensue. As this year’s holiday season begins to wind down, it’s a good time to reflect about what worked and what you might want to do next year…and when you might START really planning your holiday marketing campaigns.
There are several things you can do as a small or mid-sized business owner to prepare for the holiday season.
Prepare a holiday marketing plan—As you likely heard, social media, advertising and media outreach efforts don’t exist in a vacuum. All your marketing and PR efforts need to be organized and integrated. Determine what your business goals and objectives will be for the holiday season and then, think about what strategies you will employ to meet those needs. For example, if you want to increase your in-store purchases, try promoting a gift card giveaway on social media so fans can “line up” outside your doors. Alternatively, you could set up a mobile program to reach customers via text when special offers hit the store or send out an email newsletter notifying customers of new products just in time for the gift-giving season.
Brainstorm story angles for media—Usually long-lead media contacts work about three to six months out from publication date…meaning many reporters start thinking about holiday stories when we’re still cranking air conditioners! As the ol’ saying goes, the early bird gets the worm, so spend some time brainstorming different story angles that relate to your business and the upcoming holidays. Short-lead media like broadcast stations are always attracted to stories about the holiday season, so be ready to answer those opportunities early.
Build customer loyalty and community—Host a customer appreciation event that invites customers to an exclusive look of the latest products or services. Customers will appreciate the fact that they are getting a sneak-peek at upcoming holiday happenings and it will also encourage early sales. Sending out reminders of any upcoming holiday events (e.g. a tree-lighting ceremony with hot cocoa and free copy of a catalog or other marketing collateral) provides further incentive for customers to think of your business first, keeping it top-of-mind when holiday shopping season begins.
Set up holiday analytics—A solid marketing campaign isn’t effective without measuring goals and objectives. One of the easiest ways to do this is through Google Analytics. You’ll be able to see how your social media campaigns are driving traffic to your website and what keywords and phrases you should be incorporating into your monthly blog posts to drive engagement and readership. Within Google Analytics, you can create goals and track when your visitors complete conversions, like downloading content or making a purchase.
Embrace the holiday season and get ahead of Santa’s sleigh! And if the idea of doing any or all of these things gives you a bah humbug attitude, we’re here to help year-round. Give us a call at 303-394-2366 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
- Angela Shugarts