Holiday Marketing Bells

Holiday marketing checklist: 5 steps to prep your marketing for the holidays

9 min read
Amanda Larson

With Labor Day just behind us, stores are filled Halloween decorations and Thanksgiving-themed reminders. Before we know it, snowmen and reindeer will be populating the aisles we frequent, and houses will be stringing up holiday lights. The world around us is preparing their holiday marketing, so how can you and your small business keep up?

The idea of holiday marketing is simple enough in theory. You just coordinate your marketing campaigns around a specific event on the calendar. But trying to sync your marketing plan with holidays can be challenging because they’re timely events.

It’s vital to prepare for your holiday marketing well before the season rolls around.

5 steps to prep your marketing for the holidays

If you procrastinate and don’t prepare in advance, you set yourself up for failure. Thankfully, holiday marketing can be easy. All it takes is a bit of time management and some prepping.

  1. Choose the right holiday.
  2. Create a schedule for holiday marketing.
  3. Clean up your email lists.
  4. Master your messaging.
  5. Create CTAs that convert.

Let’s learn how to handle holiday marketing preparation before it’s too late!

Holiday Marketing Checklist

1. Choose the right holiday

Every small business is different and your customers are, too. What holidays does your ideal customer celebrate? Make sure to pick one that your customers actively engage in. You don’t need to market every holiday on the calendar. Set your focus on the most appropriate dates that work for your business.

To get started, focus on one holiday for each season.

Next, think about their demographic like age and gender, what they do to prepare for this holiday, and how they celebrate. With this profile, you can begin crafting your campaign. Now, take a look at your own inventory. What products complement this season the most?

It’s easy to market your most popular offering, but is your audience tired of seeing it? It might be the perfect time to try marketing a new product or put an older, less popular version back in the spotlight. Another option is to customize your products to better appeal to the holiday. Can you alter the product itself or the way you sell it?

Pro tip: Whether you’re trying to promote one product or advertise your entire business, find an angle that creates timeliness and make sense.

Related: Best practices for using images on eCommerce product pages

2. Create a schedule for holiday marketing

Now that you have your holiday, you have a deadline. With this timeline, the first thing you need to do is create a schedule. This is important because this schedule holds you accountable and sets milestones for yourself.

First things first, take a look at your toolbox. How many different marketing channels do you utilize? All of these marketing avenues should sync so you can cross promote your holiday campaign and extend its reach. List these mediums and after, choose how many times you’d like to communicate with each.

Pro tip: Work backward from the date of your chosen holiday and give each communication two dates: first, the date you plan to create and schedule the content and second, the day it goes out.

Give yourself as much time as possible to proactively anticipate any problems (and beat the holiday rush). I recommend giving yourself a two-month runway for any holiday. One month to plan, create and schedule the campaign, and the second month to watch it unfold, engage with customers, and analyze results.

Thankfully with scheduling softwares, you can create, write and schedule posts and emails well in advance.

There are infinite scheduling tools that make holiday marketing easy.

For email, I like GoDaddy Email Marketing because it makes drip campaigns easy to set up and email lists simple to manage. For creative social posts, Yala combines graphic creation with a scheduling software to publish eye-capturing quotes or announcements.

3. Clean up your email lists

Holiday Marketing Clean

At least once a year, it’s good for any business to spruce up its audiences. It’s important to know who interacts with your content most and who completely ignores you. Remove unresponsive subscribers from your email lists that haven’t opened emails in over a year (or less). This will improve the accuracy of your campaign results. It also protects your business from being flagged as spam.

During the holiday season, you can bet that everyone’s email boxes are going to overflow. People are likely to flag your message as spam instead of unsubscribing if it’s easier for them.

Hone your focus on people who are still interested in your business and free yourself from those who have moved on.

If you’re still new to email marketing, check out the Beginner’s Email Marketing Guide for Small Businesses to help you get started.

4. Master your messaging

At this point, you should have your holiday marketing plan with an inventory of what you’re creating as well as fresh audience lists awaiting to hear from you. What’s next? Set some time aside and get out the paper. It’s brainstorming time to figure out the message and theme of your holiday marketing plan.

One way to discover a captivating message for your campaign is to tap into emotions.

Match your marketing with the attitude or feeling your customers have toward this holiday. Is it joy or stress, annoyance or love?

As Hubspot puts it, “If you have conducted research into your audience, then you’ll likely know their attitudes around these big seasonal events and should be able to pair that with an event that suits your product or service.”

Customers are in a certain holiday spirit, so if you can make this theme relevant to your business, you’ll stay top of mind to the consumer. Position yourself in a way that the customer agrees with you. Don’t be afraid to state the obvious if it creates an easy segway to your business. For example, if it’s cold outside, state how chilly it is and how your product is the solution. It seems elementary but it’s effective because the customer relates to what you’re saying.

This simple message can create trust.

With this feeling in mind, what does your business bring to the table? Can you solve their worries or bring more joy to their celebration? It might not be the most obvious emotion either.

Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples. It’s also been crowned “Single’s Awareness Day.” Don’t be afraid to use humor to tap into people’s genuine feelings about the day. It’s a chance to stand out from the crowd and customers will appreciate the refreshing honesty.

Another important approach to messaging is considering how sharable it is. In addition to promoting your business specifically, complement this advertisement with related content that’s beneficial to your audience. Find some striking images to post, publish quotes about the season that tap into the emotion you’re conveying, and share articles that relate to the holiday.

Think about the content that clutters your own Facebook feed. People love how-to videos, recipes, funny memes or other content that their friends will enjoy. The most successful marketing campaigns are results from viral sharing. Facebook’s algorithm favors posts that attract engagement.

As you craft your messaging, remember to make it share-worthy!

Editor’s note: If you don’t have enough time to focus on social media, let GoDaddy help! The experts at GoDaddy Social not only manage your presence on your social networks, but also can help turn an online interaction into a lifelong customer.

5. Create CTAs that convert

After you’ve evoked your intended emotion with the customer, it’s time for the call-to-action, or CTA. The downfall of countless marketing campaigns is that they lack a strong CTA. Your CTA is what bridges the gap between marketing and sales.

Once you’ve attracted their attention, what should the customer do now? Call your business, make a reservation, print a coupon, leave a comment?

Be direct and clear and make the next step easy.

Provide a link or contact information to make this next step achievable or one click away.

Related: 15 tips for creating the perfect CTA for a WordPress site

Upcoming holidays to prepare for

As autumn gets underway, let’s shift our focus to the fall and winter seasons. Here is a list of upcoming holidays and themes to consider marketing for. Once you feel confident, you should be able to utilize what every season has to offer and expand into 2019’s calendar.

Upcoming 2018 season and holiday ideas

  • Halloween — October 31
  • Football season or your local team(s)
  • Veterans Day — November 11 (Observed November 12)
  • Thanksgiving — November 22
  • Black Friday — November 23
  • Small Business Saturday — November 24
  • Cyber Monday — November 26
  • Staying Warm or Dreaming of Summer — November
  • Hanukkah — December 2-10
  • Christmas — December 25
  • New Year’s Resolutions — December
  • New Years Eve — December 31

As you’re flipping through the calendar, be sure to keep in mind what surrounds each holiday. Anticipate when people might be traveling and schedule your marketing plans around it. Also, be mindful of what days people take off work and when they might be checking emails versus decompressing on social media.

Pro tip: Tuesdays and Wednesday are the best days to send emails while weekends or evenings are great for social media attention.

In your holiday marketing plan, jot down predictions of what your customers might be doing and when.

Stay true to you

Holidays are exciting and marketing with them is a creative and rewarding challenge. No matter what holiday or season you market with, just remember to stay consistent to your brand and voice.

Don’t force a marketing angle that simply isn’t natural to your company or your customer will see right through it.

It pays to time it right, even if it means waiting until the next, more appropriate holiday. So no matter the season, stay true to you and your consumer and your marketing strategies will radiate success all year long.

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