FREE Holiday Content Marketing Calendar Template [2020]

It is almost October, and for U.S. businesses, that means just one thing: the holidays are here. If you’re a small or indie retailer, your holiday marketing should be ready to rock and roll in late October, which means the time to be developing that content is now (or August, but let’s give ourselves some grace, since it’s 2020).

We are big fans of using Google Docs spreadsheets for content planning: it’s free, easy to share, and is user-friendly for anyone remotely comfortable with spreadsheets. So today, we’re going to share our 2020 template for the October-December 2020 holiday season. Lest you be overwhelmed by looking at a giant, blank calendar, here’s how to create a realistic, achievable holiday marketing campaign.

Plan Realistically

Winnow the calendar down to just the platforms and tools that provide the most ROI for your business. What platform(s) give your company the most engagement or website traffic? Start there. You can read our post here on what social channels you should be using , but we’re going to say that if you’re an indie retailer or B2C business, Facebook and Instagram will be your heavy hitters, with Pinterest as a bonus point option for you overachievers out there. If you already have an email list? Great– keep that! But if you don’t have one yet, we’re going to spare you the pain and say it’s unlikely you’ll develop a following large enough to marketing to before 2021. Instead, establish your email capture method, but don’t worry about sending them emails this year.

Quality Over Quantity

YOU DON’T NEED TO POST EVERY DAY. Especially if you are a small account on Facebook, whose algorithm does not always appreciate small accounts that are posting aggressively. Instead, focus on fewer posts with higher-quality content, like better photographs, well-crafted text, or even short videos. If you do want to post more frequently, and have the bandwidth, put that effort into Instagram Stories or Reels.

Pick Your Key Messages

The spray-and-pray method isn’t going to do you much good. Instead, pick 2-4 messages to build campaigns around. For example, for an artisan candle maker might choose 3 main messages:

  • Message 1: Candles as a mood-booster/hygge during cold weather. This could be a weekly post starting in October (with autumnal imagery) moving into winter imagery closer to December. It could include tips for making your home feel cozy, quotes about home, warmth, and light, or even a monthly video featuring a ‘candle scene’ set to soothing music (not unlike the TV Yule logs!)
  • Message 2: Candle gift guide for different people in your life. This could look like a Facebook/Instagram post every week starting in early November, humorously discussing different products for different people: Candles for Your Friend Who Misses Summer Picnics, Candle for Your Brother Who Would Rather Be Skiing, etc.
  • Message 3: Ethically sourced ingredients. Feature your sources, farmers, manufacturers, and more. This could be a biweekly feature with a longer caption or video, showing where your ingredients come from, how the products are made, and all the care that goes into your product.

Build your posts around messages at different intervals. Of course, if something else comes up– you can post about it! But this is intended to be a guide that helps you ensure that you’re getting your key messages out, with a good frequency, in a way that builds through the holiday shopping season, so that you make it easy for your existing fans and new customers to buy from you this holiday season.

Make sure your content includes regular reminders about key information for your customers. If you have cutoffs for special/custom orders, shipping cutoffs for Hanukkah and Christmas, purchase minimums or offers for gift wrapping — put those as a standard note below your regular posts. And if you’re going to be doing shopping by appointment this year, include information on how to book an appointment. Your customers will appreciate not having to remember this info, and it makes it easier for them to buy from you!

Work Ahead

Whenever possible, compose, photograph, and schedule your posts ahead of time. Facebook allows you to schedule posts in the Publishing section of your Page tools, and there are multiple social media management software options that are free or low-cost for basic functionality. The holidays are a busy time, especially for retail, and that goes double in a year where many of us are working from home while providing childcare or schooling at home.

So– do your Future Self a big favor, and use October and early November to do this work. Even if it’s just scheduling 1 post a week–that’s one less thing to worry about.

Holiday social campaigns, even small ones, can make an impact on your revenue as an indie retailer, particularly in year where foot traffic and in-store shopping will be heavily impacted by COVID-19. Implementing a holiday social campaign is a strong way to help your social audience be aware of, and excited by, your holiday retail offerings this year.

Click here to download the 2020 Holiday Content Calendar Template

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