The holidays are just around the corner. Have you planned your marketing?
If you haven’t, you’re not alone. Many small business owners find themselves in the same situation. The holidays have a funny way of sneaking up on all of us. But waiting until the last minute to get out a marketing piece isn’t a good idea either. It can mean scrambling to run a promotion during your busiest time of year, lost opportunities for repeat and referral business or worse – that your loyal customers are being engaged by your competition.
The good news is that coming up with a solid marketing plan for the holiday season is actually pretty easy, when you break it down into these 3 steps:
1. Create your campaign. Keep it simple. The most important thing about your holiday marketing plan is that you’re engaging your contacts with a series of communications, so you’re not missing opportunities for repeat sales and referrals. Just connecting with them is half the battle. If you need a little help with coming up with ideas, here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- Is there a limited-time coupon I can offer? Consider a discount off of a product or service you’d like to have more people buy, or throw in a freebie, if they purchase by a certain date. Do you have a list of your favorite customers, to whom you can offer an early-bird VIP deal, like free shipping? Whatever you choose, adding an expiration date to it creates a sense of urgency. If your customers know they might miss out on your offer if they take too much time to comparison shop, they’re more likely to purchase.
- Could I host a holiday-themed event, like an open house? A holiday event is a great way to build customer loyalty. It gives you a chance to interact with your customers, face-to-face, and for them to see you on a more-personable level. And it doesn’t have to be complicated. If you have a building, put on some holiday music, put up a few decorations, and pick up some snacks. You could advertise a special deal to those in attendance or maybe hold a raffle for a prize drawing. If you allow your guests to bring friends, it’s a great way to also collect new leads. Just put out a sheet for people to join your email list or ask them to follow you on your social media channels.
- Could I run a contest? Think about your current product and service offering. Is there a package you could give away? Could you purchase a popular gift item, like an iPad, to offer as a prize? Promote this to your current contacts and encourage them to share. You could use a form at your location or on your Web site, to collect info from those wanting to enter.
- Is there a new product or service which would be a great gift item? A holiday promotion doesn’t have to be solely about offering something for free. Sometimes simply ensuring your contacts are aware – by proactively reaching out to them – about your new or most-popular product or service is all it takes!
2. Promote your campaign. The key ingredients here are time and multiple communications, across different channels. An ideal holiday promotion will start early and work in several touches, with different messaging, over the course of the holiday shopping season. This puts your business in the position to engage the most people.
Consider the following:
If using social media, plan out a series of holiday-themed Facebook posts or Tweets. Some should mention your promotion and give a clear call to action, like “Click this link to get our special holiday deal”. Others should be conversation starters, like “Have you started your holiday shopping?”, or “Which friend or relative are you having the toughest time choosing a gift for?”. The responses you get might just reveal some insights into how you can help your contacts address their holiday shopping needs!
If you’re planning to email your contacts, map out the content of a few emails upfront. Maybe the first mentions your holiday offer, while the last reminds your contacts they have just a few days remaining to take advantage. Keep the content of each email fresh.
If it’s easy to update your website, consider adding a holiday theme to it, putting your best sellers on your homepage, or creating a landing page, at which your customers can take advantage of your offer.
If planning offline promotions, like postcards or flyers, make sure you offer a clear call to action, such as “Call 555-555-5555 to RSVP for our holiday party” or “Visit our website to take advantage of our VIP holiday offer”.
3. Plan your communications. Once you have your holiday campaign idea and you know which channels you’re going to promote it through, mark some dates on the calendar to do each activity. When you have people taking action on your campaign, make sure you’re keeping track of which marketing channel brought them to you, so you know where to invest your time in the future. ThriveHive’s online and offline tracking, as well as scheduling of emails, social media posts, and postcards can make this easy on you. And our HivePros are here, to help you run the most effective campaign!
In what ways have you had success in planning your holiday marketing? Share your thoughts below.