Take full advantage of the marketing opportunities this holiday season, with these strategic marketing ideas.

Revenue from holiday retail shopping is expected to exceed 680 billion this year. Even for non-retail businesses, the year-end is often the "use-it-or-lose-it" time to get services and products taken care of before the new year. Either way, this is a great time to plan and execute specific marketing plans to capitalize on spending spirit of the season.

While making other preparations for the holiday season – hiring more staff, ordering specialty products – you may already be extremely busy. It can be tempting to default to the same marketing tactics you tried in the past, but that's not always the best decision.

We've detailed ten strategic marketing ideas to help you and your business have a successful holiday season! Read below for details on how to make these ideas work for you.

1. Create a Plan

If you fail to plan, holiday marketing can struggle and fall flat. While it takes time, a little strategy and advance planning will pay off in terms of sales and customer happiness.

Begin with proper research into what your competitors are doing. Next, brainstorm your own ideas. Use the following checklist to help organize your brainstorm:

Look back at last year's holiday season…

  • What worked?  
  • What failed? Why?
  • What do you wish you'd done? 
  • Why didn't you do it then? Is it something you can realistically do this year? 
  • Knowing what you know today, what are the new opportunities for this year?  

Once you have your big list of ideas, narrow it down to the ones you think will best connect with your audience (see #2 below). Start laying out those ideas on a calendar – be sure to allow time to prepare. Look for specific days to run your campaigns at the best times to reach your audience.

holiday mktg plan checklist.png

Next, gather the right images to make your holiday season campaigns engaging. Remember, online marketing — from blog content and social media posts, to your website landing pages and Facebook ads – are more likely to get clicks when they include a great image. Be sure to have enough images and a sense of consistency with images you use. Look for images that match the style of your own brand visuals or convey a sense of what customers will feel when they do business with you. 

If you already have your own images, that's great! If you need to use stock images or graphics, be sure to get them from a reliable stock source and get the appropriate rights to use the images. Don't just grab images off the internet! Stock sites like Adobe Stock, Shutterstock, Unsplash (our favorite free stock photo site) make it easy to search and find images by subject, color, and style to help you can create a consistent visual theme.

Be strategic about applying your visual style consistently to tie together your online content with the look and feel of your brick and mortar location, if you have one.  

Before launching your holiday marketing plan, be sure your website is updated and running smoothly. Set up landing pages for specific offers and link any social posts or online ads to your landing page to collect emails.

2. Know Your Audience

Be tuned to your target audience during the holiday season. Who is your best customer? Where do they get information? Where can you find more like them? What motivates their buying decision?

Consider who your business serves best. There are at least nine religions celebrating a holiday during the end of the year. This can represent new opportunities for your business to reach potential new customers.

Ensure your holiday content is seen by the right people. One way to do that is to create a separate campaign for the holiday season, using specific keywords and a dedicated budget.

When you know who you are talking to, you can target your marketing to reach holiday shoppers looking for products similar to yours.

3. Engage and Entice Your Digital Audience

Example of a holiday social media post.

Example of a holiday social media post.

Customers who engage with your social media can be huge assets as brand promoters. The holidays give you great opportunities to engage and reward them with appealing offers.

For example, you can feature holiday coupons for those who share a tweet or Facebook post. You can also give a discount to customers who check in on social media while visiting your store.

With online shoppers, many will visit a site and view products but not complete a purchase. You can use re-marketing to follow up and reconnect with these potential customers. By placing a special pixel code on your website, you can advertise to visitors who did not make a purchase. You can target them with a Facebook ad offering a one-time 15% off for the holiday season.

4. Hold a Holiday Contest

It's a perfect time of year for a contest. Make it fun and interactive, and tie in a nice bonus for participants and winners. For example, ask your social media followers to post a picture of themselves in an ugly sweater. Get in the holiday spirit with your customers will help get them involved and excited. Offer the winner an exclusive deal on a product or a gift set. Or, consider partnering with a charity and create a contest that lets you and your customers give back to the community (see #9 for more ideas).

5. Incorporate Holiday Elements to your Products

A simple way to capitalize on the holiday season is to add festive elements to your branding. This can include things like decorating your logo or social profile pictures with some lights or holly leaves.

Whatever you add, it is important to make sure it doesn't confuse or mask your brand. While there is a cost involved in creating a holiday set of branding materials, you will be able to use those materials for seasonal marketing over the next few years.

6. Share Holiday-Themed Content

Best practice for content marketing suggests 80% of posts should bring value to your audience's life while only 20% should promote your business or product.

During the holidays, it is normal to go a little above the 20% for product promotion, but don't go overboard. Be sure to include holiday elements and themes in as many of your social posts as possible. Also consider how you can work with those topics to create seasonal blog posts.

7. Go Digital for your Holiday Catalogue

If you have a catalog, save money during the holiday season by creating a digital version — a PDF download or a section of your website. This makes it easier to share your catalog on social media.

While there are costs associated with the creation of a digital catalog, it is likely less than the cost of printing and mailing bound paper catalogs. Plus, a digital catalog is a little friendlier to the environment. 

8. Create a Holiday Greeting Email Campaign

When creating a strategic marketing plan for the holiday time, try tying an email campaign to the holidays. While frequently used, creating a countdown campaign can be popular with customers and help create a sense of urgency to buy in time.

Whether you feature letters to Santa or reports from the North Pole, or highlight seasonal specials, the goal is to connect with your customers and remind them that it's time to buy for holiday giving.

Did you know? — The "12 Days of Christmas" refers to the traditional Christmas season, starting on Christmas Day and countdown to Epiphany on January 6. If you want to use the 12 Days as a countdown, it can be a fun way to wrap up the old year and start the new year.

9. Partner with a Charity

Capitalize on the holiday spirit of giving and cheerful goodwill by partnering with a local charity for part of your seasonal marketing. Host a food drive, hold a limited sale, donate a percentage of income during a day or week. You can challenge your staff and customers to help bring cheer to others by participating.

Make sure your contest focuses on the charity. You want to be genuinely giving and gracious about your involvement while including some of your branding in the initiative. Be sure to contact the charity when you start planning and before you launch your special.

10. Make it Fun

Holidays are known for traditions. Why not incorporate some of these in your seasonal marketing plan? Consider bringing your favorite traditions into your business as part of a special event or offer. Cookie baking, ornament making, tree decorating, holiday crafting, Christmas carol karaoke… it won't take long to brainstorm a fun idea that fits your business!

To make your event successful, set goals and promote the event to customers online and at your location. If you have a brick and mortar location, an event helps you bring people in the door and strengthen your ties to the community.

Ramp Up Your Strategic Marketing for the Holidays and Beyond!

With these ten ideas, you've got a quick start for making the most of your holiday marketing.

Now that you've started thinking more strategically, it's a great time to plan your marketing for the new year. Ready to step it up and get more out of your marketing next year? Contact us today to get started.


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