Drop Everything and Plan Your Holiday Marketing Strategy Right Now

Yes, I know it’s summer. The temperature is rising, the pool is calling, and presents, snowflakes, and holiday sales are the last thing on your mind.

But thinking about Santa should be at the top of your to-do list.

That’s because the average merrymaker drops an extra $730 on gifts, food, and decorations in December. In fact, the National Retail Federation estimates that spending for Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah increased by 3 percent in 2015, totaling an astounding $626.1 billion. Online and other non-store purchases also saw a huge boost last year, raking in $105 billion.

This December people will be looking to spend their holiday cash with small businesses like yours, and you’ll need a strong marketing strategy to maximize revenue. Since research shows nearly 47 percent of consumers begin shopping for gifts in October, time is of the essence. Here’s how to get started.

Plan for the Entire Season

It’s called the holiday season for a reason. Spending starts increasing in October, peaks in December, and falls off in January. It’s a rookie mistake to just focus your marketing efforts on Christmas. Make sure you tailor campaigns for all the holidays from Halloween to New Year’s Eve. The more holidays you include in your strategy, the more opportunities you have to capture the attention of your followers.

Deck the Halls

Brick-and-mortar stores have a slight advantage over online retailers during the holidays. Why? They can create a magical atmosphere through decorations and music to capture the essence of the holiday. But that doesn’t mean online stores should be left out in the cold. Freshen up your website with a holiday hero image or some garland around the footer. Most importantly, make sure information about your shipping policies and gift cards is easy to find.

Customize Your Content

Another reason it’s important to start planning your marketing early is because it takes time to develop content. Holiday-themed articles and promotions go a long way in terms of pumping up your followers for the season (and your product). While it’s easy to veer into the cliché, there are a few ways to create meaningful holiday fare for your site.

  • Get personal with your followers. The holidays are the perfect time to open up with your fans by sharing your favorite recipes or traditions. This type of content will allow followers to get to know you and your brand better and will feel like a respite in the sea of sales-driven content flooding your customers’ inboxes.
  • Offer holiday-themed promotions in your content. Delight customers with a promotion that gives back to them. Your visitors will love an offer for free shipping, a percentage off your products or services, or a free gift with purchase. You could even run a giveaway through your social media channels.
  • Create something heartfelt and shareable. Remember when WestJet asked every passenger what they wanted for Christmas before takeoff and then presented the travelers with their wishes after landing? WestJet filmed the giveaway and posted it across social media. It was a huge hit, captured the spirit of the holidays, and was a monumental marketing success. The more feel-good, shareable content you can create, the better off your business will be.

Advertise Early

Plan to start running your marketing campaigns long before the actual holiday. Brick-and-mortar stores do this well, setting out all their holiday wares by November 1 at the latest. Your online strategy should follow the same pattern. The good news: research shows that consumers actually don’t mind seeing holiday promotions early.

Create a Marketing Calendar

Make sure your holiday strategy stays on target by creating a marketing calendar. This means getting your marketing team together — or, if you’re just getting your business started, yourself — and setting goals and assigning due dates. Keep track of your progress using a shared task manager (we use Asana at Bluehost) or a Google calendar. These online planning tools will help keep everyone on your team in the loop and on task.

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