Early Holiday Advertising Tips for Your Local Business
Since I was a kid, I’ve always enjoyed watching the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. From the clowns, to the marching bands, to the giant balloons – there’s rarely a sad face to be seen along the parade route. But as far back as I can remember, it’s always been about that one pivotal moment when Santa arrives on the final float and officially kicks-off the holiday shopping season - which back in the day meant me begging for the Sears annual Holiday Wish Book and excitedly finding things I never had considered for my own wish list.
Today’s “holiday season” is insanely different. In fact you can walk into a place like Costco in late Summer and witness holiday decorations already on sale – it’s like every skeleton scythe-wielding Halloween porch decoration should just come bulked with snowflake decorated holiday gift wrapping included in the box. According to eMarketer, by the time Santa shows up at the Macy’s parade, nearly 48% of people have already started their shopping (and that’s by Halloween - talk about scary stats!)
The reality is, the national businesses are advertising things like pre-black Friday selling events well before November, campaigns they are more than comfortable launching in the late summer months. And if your business isn’t off and running with your own local advertising strategy by September, you may have already surrendered sales to your national and early advertising local competitors.
To help you catch up, here are a few ideas when it comes to planning and launching your holiday ad strategy in the St. Nick of time:
Pick your key selling dates
When are your biggest sales dates for your business? Grab a trusty calendar, and mark off a few key dates you’d like to concentrate on. The two-week window leading up to those dates should be key advertising windows for you. Work with a professional media consultant from Cox Media for optimal results. When Santa shows up on that parade float, you should have peace of mind knowing that your advertising strategy has been set into motion and has already brought in customers and will continue to work for you well into the final hectic holiday sales days.
Did you forget about this in a world filled of instant click gratification? Leaving branding out of the equation in your ad strategy is like buying the perfect sparkling diamond for all to see but forgetting about the setting to show it off. You’re more likely to be noticed when being worn than asking others if they’d like to check out a diamond and pulling it from your pocket. There is no doubt that some of your local competitors have forgotten the critical importance of branding. With all these shiny-like new ways to advertise filled with fly by night false promising “you’ll rank number one tomorrow in Google search” – the consistency of a good brand strategy can sometimes be mistakenly pushed aside.
While an online ad strategy can feel successful when it ties impressions direct to sales, consider consistently proven methods of branding like Television that allow you to stand out and connect with your audience on one of the most trusted mediums around. And if you have assumed all along that TV is too geographically challenged and priced something like the Super Bowl – jump over to this blog and prepare to feel like your brand just became the “Clark Griswold” house of the county that everyone drives for miles and miles to experience. Get recognized, confirm your credibility, emotionally connect with your target customers and motivate them to buy – in short, brand!
Cohesive messaging on multiple screens
Americans spend more than 10 hours a day staring into various screens like TV, mobile phones and computers (online) – nearly half a day! Create a consistent message that can be weaved into any of these devices. Work with a media specialist like Cox Media who can help you methodically create a strategy that capitalizes on information that not every ad provider has access to – things that indicate which specific people are most likely to respond to you based on who they are, their location and even their recent behavior. For instance, if you are looking to target moms of young children – data may tell us who they specifically are based on the fact their mobile phone has been to playgrounds and preschools on multiple days, specific stores, online searches, etc.
And remember that Wish Book catalogue from Sears I mentioned earlier? That’s all happening online now. Retarget people searching the big box URL’s online for that specific gift you happen to also offer by using static display or video advertisements. Your ad messaging could give them a reason to “shop local” and come into your store. Then re-use that video ad on popular TV programming (Holiday themed or otherwise) that your typical buyers are most likely to watch based on research your Media Consultant can provide – watch new customers line up at your doors!
Speaking of Video
We live in a video world, in fact over 300 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute! And is there any better way to tell your story and engage with potential clients? Many local businesses make three common mistakes when it comes to video as they 1) record it themselves on a mobile phone sometimes making themselves look worse than not having video at all and they do this because 2) they assume professional video production is too expensive, requires a crew of twenty, a best boy, dolly grips and that 3) they personally need to conceptualize and storyboard video ideas from start to finish.
Here’s what you do – meet with your Media consultant, discuss your goals and they’ll bring the creative production types to the table who will formalize the ideas you’ve always wanted. It could be as simple as some photos and a professional voice over, or you can go far more complicated with studio and/or onsite shoots with professional actors if you wish. But whatever you do, please please please remember this one word when it comes to video – REPURPOSE! They’ll record plenty of material for various uses – it can be edited for example to 30 seconds for TV ads or the ever-popular 15-second ad for online, longer amounts for the front page of your website, small cuts for social media, other cuts for in-store video, and maybe a testimonial or two for ANY medium. Make your production dollars go far – creating quality professional video for your business is probably the most overlooked thing you can do to tell your story.
Make the holidays last through next year
Get people to sign up for communications whenever you can. Offer them a percent off their holiday purchase at the point of sale if they opt in while at your physical store. You can even offer exclusive coupons good for future big shopping dates. Then keep in communication with them through the following year via email or text.
Nobody wants to envision the Santa float parading around Manhattan right around Labor Day – but when it comes to the real time the Holiday season kicks off in terms of consumer spending behavior, that would be more accurate than the Thanksgiving Day parade. But knowing that’ll never happen (nor should it), it’s incumbent on you as a local business to recognize that accurately timing and planning your end-of-year advertising strategy should start before the leaves on the trees begin to fall, should include a partner with access to powerful data and ad placement, and should have some strategy that rolls holiday success right into the following year and beyond.
About the Author
Dan Glicksman is Sr. Manager of Lead and Demand Generation for Cox Media where he is responsible for helping develop and execute strategies that drive sales qualified B2B leads to all of its local markets across the US. An ambidextrous ambivert and self-described skeptical optimist, Dan relishes the fact that he, as a child of the 70’s, has outscored every millennial colleague on various “How Millennial Are You” type tests. He also authors a blog on DanInDemand.comFollow on Twitter More Content by Dan Glicksman