Every year, a small subset of small business owners that I meet lament that they were not prepared for the “holiday marketing season.” That is, they say they were not prepared with their holiday marketing campaign in time to take full advantage of it. Don’t let this be you! Before you know it, the winter holidays season will be upon you. After all, there are less than 12 weeks until Christmas as of the time of publishing this article.
This period is prime time for every type of business—brick-and-mortar retail, service-based, manufacturing, and online businesses alike—to make a plan to reach out to customers, even if it’s not for the winter holidays season. Now is the time to start preparin
g and executing the background plans to be ready with your annual marketing campaigns!
Holiday marketing is a year-round event
The first bit of advice is to understand that holiday marketing campaigns are not just for the winter holidays season. Yes, according to the Retail Marketing Federation, the winter holidays (Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah, and to some extent, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day) spending rings in at more than half-a-trillion dollars (that’s 10 zeroes before the decimal!). But, that’s not the whole story.
Consumers don’t only spend leading up to and for the winter holidays. They spend year-round at strategic times. It’s important for you as a small business owner to know when those times are that your specific consumers are buying. If you look back at your prior sales and revenue reports in your accounting software, you should be able to see where peaks and valleys are in purchasing. As well, speak with your local businesses and/or retail stores that have similar target audiences (and this doesn’t mean you have to talk to your competitors necessarily) to learn about their experiences for when the highs and lows are in their businesses’ sales and revenues throughout the year.
You might learn that the winter holidays season is actually not the best time for you to spend your hard-earned money and your hard-fought time on acquiring new business. (And, it might be and that’s good to have confirmation.)
What are the holidays that you can market to business on?
In that vein, it’s a good idea to find anchors in the calendar to have a reason to reach out to your current and past customers, and do pull marketing for potential customers. There are several events throughout the year and even more holidays than Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah.
Once you’ve identified the months, weeks, and days that are important to get in front of your audience, you have the background to create an editorial calendar and marketing plan. You then have the opportunity to execute the plan. And, finally, you should track what works and what doesn’t. This will information you for the future years’ planning. Also, beware of confirmation bias; sometimes Small Business owners see a small subset of success or failure and take that as the whole picture.
What’s the message you’d like to convey to your customers, or the goal of reaching out to them at all?
While decorating your front-facing retail spaces, website, email newsletter, and even your Google My Business listing, are important to your holiday marketing campaigns, these are vehicles to a message you want to send to your potential, current and past clients. What are you trying to say?
If you’re reaching out to clients during Thanksgiving, are you sending a message of appreciation/gratitude? That’s not necessarily “buy from me” and may not be as effective for sales, but for goodwill.
Are you celebrating a big anniversary of being in business? Use this as an opportunity to feature your best clients, because others who are like that best client will be drawn to connect with your business as well.
Is this a special promotion campaign? Be it a sneak peak of future products, discounts, free shipping/handling for your best customers, or something more creative (a la ugly sweater contest benefiting
a local charity), make sure your customers know what you’re offering.
Understand well what you’re trying to communicate and then work backward on the tactics you’re going to use to effectuate that.
If you landed on this article at the tail-end of the holiday marketing season, there are last-minute holiday marketing tactics. And, start planning for next year now, so you don’t get stuck in this position again! Good luck, and happy holidays!