As an entrepreneur, you’re knee-deep in the day-to-day running of your small business.
And before you know it, the big holidays sneak up on you and you’re left without a timely and attractive promotion.
Even worse: Your competitors have been capitalizing for weeks in advance. They’ve got a huge head-start, and you’re playing catch-up.
When it comes to holiday marketing, here’s how to go from “Crap! I totally forgot about (INSERT HOLIDAY HERE)” to “I’m ready for (INSERT HOLIDAY HERE).”
1. Remember, Some Holidays Never Change
- Christmas (December 25).
- New Year’s (January 1).
- Valentine’s Day (February 14).
- St. Patrick’s Day (March 17).
- Halloween (October 31).
And for other holidays, while the actual dates may change, when they occur does not:
- Mother’s Day (Second Sunday of May).
- Father’s Day (Third Sunday in June).
- Labour Day (First Monday in September).
Forgetting these events represents a lost marketing opportunity.
Whether in the form of a special sale, limited time offer, or just sending holiday wishes, not acknowledging common holidays puts you behind the competition (and it’s not a good look either).
2. Plan Early
As mentioned off the top, popular holidays always roll around at the same time of year. But that doesn’t mean you should create a quick promotion a few days before.
Here’s why that’s a bad idea:
The “Me Too” Syndrome
Being late to the holiday marketing party can make you look desperate. If your competitor has been running a 50% off Valentine’s Day sale for weeks, and you come up with your own a few days before February 14 it comes off as inauthentic.
There’s also a good chance your target audience has already purchased from the competition long before you announced your sale. That’s lost revenue.
CLIENT INDUSTRY: Home improvement.
THEME: $500 voucher towards kitchen/bathroom renovation.
CAMPAIGN DATES: October to November.
This client targeted customers who would be hosting Christmas and wanted to update their kitchen and bathroom before it.Introductory emails and social posts promoted the offer. As the holidays drew closer, emails shifted focus on holiday hosting tips, Christmas trivia, etc. However, the $500 voucher offer was always present.
RESULTS: 77 vouchers downloaded. 298 total goal completions. 4.88% goal conversion rate.
You’re Out of the Loop
You don’t need to have a big sale every time there’s a holiday. But sending out an email, sharing a social post, or putting a banner on your website acknowledging it makes your business more personable and approachable.
Forgetting key holidays creates the impression that you’re not fully aware of what’s going on outside your business. As well, there are people in your target audience who love Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Easter, etc. Ignoring those holidays means you’re ignoring them too.
CLIENT INDUSTRY: New home building.
THEME: Tax tips for new home buyers.
HOLIDAY: Tax season.
CAMPAIGN DATES: April.
This client published a blog, email, and social posts providing helpful tax information for new home buyers. They were not targeting their own customers and the only concrete offer was to sign up to receive updates on future home development projects.
RESULTS: 27% email open rate. 14% email click rate. 7% goal conversion rate.
Last Minute Budgeting
Reactive marketing can quickly eat your marketing budget. Money that you’ve set aside for future campaigns will get gobbled up as you try to plan and launch last-minute holiday marketing. Even worse, you could end up using money from your bottom line.
Identifying the holidays you want to target beforehand and planning accordingly allows you to comfortably spread your marketing dollars over the year. The last thing you want is to run into a cash flow problem during a key holiday you want to promote.
3. Create Customer Loyalty and Take Advantage Of It
During holiday shopping (especially at Christmas), online shoppers want the following:
- Good prices.
- Extensive product selection.
- Reliable shipping.
- No hassles whatsoever.
If you’re an online retailer, early bird marketing can get those people to your site. And if you can deliver the points listed above, they’ll come back to you.
In fact, according to a study by Constant Contact, 52% of customers acquired through Christmas marketing will become repeat, loyal customers.
4. Be Grateful and Look Ahead
Certain holidays and events are all about appreciating what you have:
- Valentine’s Day.
When these dates roll around, it’s a good time to be reflective of what’s happened and look ahead to the future.
Although you can tie in an offer or promotion to these holidays, it’s not necessary. Sometimes, a simple “thank you” at these times of the year is more than enough to get your message across.
CLIENT INDUSTRY: Bathroom renovation.
THEME: Thank you.
CAMPAIGN DATES: December.
Before their target audience was too busy with Christmas events, this client sent out a small email and social post combination thanking people for their patronage over the past year. There was no offer or call-to-action. Instead, the marketing allowed people to catch up on popular blogs in case they missed them the first time.
RESULTS: 21% email open rate. 15% email click rate. 9% email conversion rate.
CLIENT INDUSTRY: Landscape supplies.
THEME: New trends for the new year.
HOLIDAY: New Year’s.
CAMPAIGN DATES: January and March.
This client used New Year’s (the dead of winter) to get people thinking about spring in this 2-part campaign. The first part (January) focused on future architectural landscape trends. The second part (March) took advantage of the last embers of New Year’s to look at patio design trends.
RESULTS (JAN): 18% email open rate. 20% email click rate. 9% email goal conversion rate.
RESULTS (MAR): 18% email open rate. 24% email click rate. 4% email goal conversion rate.
5. Make a Communication Plan for Your Holiday Offer
Once you’ve decided which holidays you want to target and what their accompanying offers are, your next step is to get the word out.
That doesn’t mean sending out an email and social post and then forgetting about it. You need to hit people multiple times before they take action.
Life gets busy. Oftentimes, people get pulled into something else. When they finally have some free time again, they probably won’t remember what you’re offering.
When in doubt, you can always use the “rule of three”:
- Announce your offer.
- Send a few weeks before the offer expiration date.
- Send one week from the offer expiration date.
- Last chance to take advantage.
- Send a few days before the offer expiration date.
CLIENT INDUSTRY: HVAC.
THEME: Rebate offer.
HOLIDAY: Start of Summer.
CAMPAIGN DATES: May.
This client sent a two-part campaign email to encourage homeowners looking for HVAC products to take advantage of a limited time rebate. The emails were sent out at 7 day intervals.
RESULTS: 43% open rate. 9% email click rate. 6.25% goal conversion rate.
6. Create Your Own Holidays or Annual Events
Why not develop your own special holidays which are unique to your small business?
Perhaps it could be the date when you opened for business. Maybe, each year, you announce a new product or service.
Or you could simply create an annual customer appreciation day.
Whatever the case may be, you have the ability to make your business an integral part of your target audience’s shopping calendar.
Once again, here’s what small businesses can do to best leverage holiday marketing throughout the year:
Take advantage of customer loyalty.
Develop a communication plan.
Create your own holidays to celebrate your business.
Follow these tips, and you’ll never be caught off-guard whenever the major holidays roll around.
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