It seems that it was yesterday that we were wiping off confetti from our New Year’s Eve outfits and removing our 2017 glasses to start our Q1 with a bang.
But, as we start to recover from the summer and get back into our normal routines, another marketing extravaganza is looming on the horizon: this year’s holiday marketing campaign. Yes, it’s coming and you need to get ready for it now.
Why? Because, even if you don’t hear any ringing bells going off yet, many shoppers are starting to think about their list of gifts for their loved ones, how they will decorate their homes and what their plans will be for the most wonderful time of the year.
And, if you want to land a place at the top of their shopping lists, you should start planning how you’re going to reach them by building an engaging and consistent marketing campaign that starts running out at the right time.
Today, I bring you three key factors you must take into account to start working on your 2017 holiday season strategy. Take out the party favors and read on!
1. It Starts Earlier and Earlier Every Year
When does the holiday season start? If your answer is Dec. 1st, you’re WRONG!
If you answer Thanksgiving, you’re still wrong, but not by far.
For us, the real answer is by late October, coinciding with Halloween.
This means that, when it comes to marketing, this should be you:
(via Instagram: @Bustle)
In the past, all holiday efforts went focused on Christmas, as the queen of end-of-year festivities. Times have changed, though, and now it is accompanied by other big parties such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, religious festivities like Kwanzaa and Hanukkah, and even school’s winter break is trying to claim its spot on your holiday marketing calendar.
Every event needs to have its own mini campaign planned, to keep customers engaged and excited for the next one. The best way to build a consistent strategy is by doing it now.
Even more, recently, BigCommerce shared a thorough list of tips and strategies for a successful holiday marketing campaign. Most of the experts they interviewed agreed on a big thing: the time to start planning is now.
Why is it so important to do this?
Because you want to make sure you have a clear idea of how much product stock you’ll need, how much manpower you’ll need to offer your services seamlessly, and also to get ahead of the competition.
In the digital world, it’ll give you a head start in SEO keyword ranking, and come up with fresher ideas before the holiday noise gets too loud.
2. Early Planning means Early Scheduling… but Not Too Early
Few things can make a content marketer feel better than having a campaign fully planned and ready to schedule for publishing.
However, this doesn’t mean that you have to start sending your first holiday emails or tweets by next week. We’re still mourning the end of summer, after all.
This effect of overly enthusiastic marketers ready to sing Christmas carols has a name: the Christmas Creep. Don’t fret; this has nothing to do with Santa looking sketchy in a trench coat. It’s a phenomenon where retailers and marketers start their holiday offerings as soon as late September.
In a study posted by RichRelevance last year, 63% of American shoppers are annoyed when stores begin to display holiday products before Halloween. If it looks strange and out of place inside the store, imagine how tone deaf it could look to release an email campaign too early.
When should you start releasing holiday marketing material, then? Our top tip is to start by mid-November, amping it up after Thanksgiving. When it comes to email marketing, you can start a little bit earlier, sending your first e-mail around October, and slowly increasing the frequency in the following months.
3. What’s Your Story for This Season?
If you still believe that, in order to have a successful holiday season, you just need to put a Santa hat over your logo, we need to talk.
Only VLC Player can get away with this. (via VLC)
In recent years, storytelling has evolved from being a shapeless buzzword to a key component in every market. The ads and campaigns that score big during the holiday season are always the ones with an unforgettable story behind it.
If there’s a marketing period where shoppers buy with their hearts, it’s this one. And the right story will get you closer to them. It doesn’t have to be whimsical or gut wrenching. You don’t need to feel like you have to copy Coca-Cola’s bulletproof Christmas marketing formula.
The key is to evoke the key elements that make the holidays so special: sharing with others, giving and the magic of a season that never stops being mesmerizing.
And, before you pull out the tissues, this element can also be applied for Halloween, Thanksgiving and any other of the stops of the holiday marketing campaign trail.
The truth is that none of the great ideas that make our jaws drop every holiday season come out of thin air. They always require a big amount of planning and execution, which is prepared well in advance, when most of us are still shaking off the sand from our flip flops.
If you want to build an unforgettable campaign this year, then I encourage you to start now. If you feel weird about listening to Christmas tunes in September, just think it’s for marketing inspiration. Don’t worry, we won’t make you put on the ugly sweater yet. It can wait.