It’s August. Which means the holiday season is just around the corner.

And while you may just now be making plans to take in the golden rays of summer or dust off the sand to get the kids ready to head back to school, marketers are busy thinking about decking the halls and spreading some holiday cheer.

Right about now you’re probably thinking, “But it’s August. Is she kidding?”

As small business owners and solopreneurs we’re busy. It’s hard enough to find the time to address all of our business’s immediate needs, let alone plan a marketing campaign for a holiday season that occurs months from now.

But let me tell you – it is far too easy for those months to slip into weeks and then just slip away.

 

Did you know that big corporations – the Targets and Best Buys of the retail world – have already started planning their 2015 holiday marketing campaigns? Back in my advertising agency days – where I worked on accounts such as Westfield, LA Times, Caesars, Coldwell Banker, and more – if we weren’t planning by July, we were already falling behind.

In fact, according to a survey by Experian, 69% of marketers surveyed start planning holiday campaigns by August.

Yes, August.

And while small businesses are more agile and may not require the six plus months of planning that the big guys need, planning is still key to a successful holiday campaign.

I’ve seen it time and time again. It’s November and you’ve started receiving email promotions from your favorite retailers. You start to panic, realizing you only have one week until Thanksgiving… and Black Friday… and Small Business Saturday… and Cyber Monday. So you scramble to get some sort of holiday-centric ad, email or card out the door. And every year the same thing happens:

  • You manage to scrape by a sub-par email with no plans of how you’re going to follow-up or capture data that will turn your one time buyers into repeat customers. And you swear that next year it will be different.
  • You make a valiant attempt to put together an ad or a customized card, and give-up in frustration because there just isn’t time to do it right – vowing that next year you’ll plan ahead.

Make a Holiday Marketing Game Plan. Now. This week.

 

  • Review what you did last year (if anything). What worked? What went wrong? What can you do differently this year?
  • Decide what you want to do this holiday season. Offer a promotion? Send out an awareness campaign? Build relationships with prospects and keep in touch with your customers? Then pick one, maybe two.
  • Write down everything you think you’ll need to get it done. Do you need an email campaign? A unique holiday card? An advertising or pay-per-click campaign? Do you want to get listed in a holiday gift guide, or featured by a blogger? Do you want to host an event or a VIP party for your most valued customers? Focus on two or three of these – what you can realistically take on.

The holidays suddenly don’t seem so far away now, do they?

But if you start devoting some time now – by simply thinking about what you want to do and what will be needed – you will drastically improve the results of your holiday marketing efforts.

Need some help putting a plan together? Get in touch. I can help you put together a strategy and list of needs for your holiday campaign.

And check out these tips to help you brainstorm ideas for your small business holiday marketing.