Ah yes, the time of pool noodles and lawn mowing, lemonade stands on a sizzling day, and…brainstorming your winter holiday marketing? Yes, it is…and here’s why it will make your life easier.
If you’re a retailer, the last thing you want to worry about during the winter holiday season is your marketing.
You’re going to have your hands full with product, inventory, and shipping. If you run a brick-and-mortar store, you’ll be busy helping your customers in person, keeping your business looking sharp, and possibly offering gift wrapping or curbside pickup. Even if you’re running an ecommerce business, you’ll be responding to customer emails and questions. You might be dealing with vendor issues. If you have staff, you might be dealing with covering shifts due to winter illnesses. Needless to say, you do not want to be worrying about what to post on social media at that time.
The way to get around this is to start early. For small to midsize businesses, that often means brainstorming in July, planning marketing tactics/campaigns in August, finalizing and generating content and creative in September, and pre scheduling (or at least drafting and planning) posts, emails, and website content from September into October, with winter holiday-related content starting to go live in mid-to-late October.
If you’re planning your holiday marketing on Nov. 22, you’re already too late
Research shows that bulk of holiday purchases actually take place during October through November. So if your holiday content starts up after Thanksgiving, you’ve potentially already lost out on a significant percentage of your total holiday sales.
And if you’re offering special or limited-edition holiday products or offerings, you need to educate your audience about it ahead of time, while they’re still making purchasing decisions, or planning where and how to shop.
This goes double for businesses that sell at community events, farmers markets, and craft fairs. Tell your customers where you’ll be during the holiday season ahead of time (they’re busy, too!), or if you’ll be open so that they can come support you and buy what they love. If you’re a brick and mortar retailer, promote your holiday hours (whether extended or limited) ahead of time. If you do online sales, promote your last-call shipping dates BOLDLY and FREQUENTLY (we really can’t emphasize this enough!).
If you’re planning in a hurry, you’re going to forget something
Marketing from a place of panic is never good. It’s generally ineffective, and can even be damaging to your business. But if you’re planning ahead, you can plan to distribute important content across a time frame that will allow your customer to see that information when they’re making plans and decisions.
If you’re planning ahead, you can do something fun that stands out
Getting on top of your holiday marketing ahead of time means that you might be able to do a campaign that’s fun and delightful for your audience, and generates significant sales. Instead of frantically telling people that you’re open for Small Business Saturday today (in a single post, on the most crowded Saturday of the holiday season, when every single other business is posting and everyone already has plans and family obligations), you might have planned a campaign starting in October, that teased some appealing in-store offerings or events, and allowed your customers to plan to specifically visit your store. You might have planned a campaign that reminded them of what they love about shopping with you, what you’re offering this season, what thought went into your selection of offerings, and what impact shopping with you will have on their community.
In short, planning ahead gives you many more opportunities to connect with your audience and help them patronize your business for their winter holiday gift shopping.
The Three Rules of Holiday Marketing for Small Businesses
- Tell people the important things (shipping deadlines, special hours) early and often.
- Make it easy for them to buy from you! Tell them where you’ll be and what you’ll have.
- BONUS: make it magical and meaningful. More on that later!