When To Start Planning Your Holiday Advertising Strategy (Hint: It's Sooner Than You Think!)
All you need is a calendar and the right media partner to make the most of seasonal sales
The holidays seem to come earlier every year, don't they?
At least, the holiday season, that is.
So your holiday advertising ideas need to be formed earlier, too.
Maybe you used to notice store decorations going up the day after Halloween, and even then it felt too soon. You might've wondered what's next – the day after Labor Day? Well, believe it or not, yes.
Small business advertising can make the most of the holiday season, but planning should start soon – and the earlier, the better.
This doesn't mean you have to put up your year-end specials in September. It means that any business needs to craft its holiday advertising ideas by the fall. And that applies to more kinds of businesses than just retail store owners. It also means service providers, restaurants, insurance offices, real estate salespeople, gym and spa owners…the list goes on.
No one wants to miss out or be caught by surprise. In 2017, retailers had their best holiday season since 2011. Retail e-commerce sales were up 17.8 percent, ahead of total retail sales growth of 5.5 percent. And that ratio is expected again this year.1
In addition to starting early, joining forces with the right media partner who understands the needs of your business can make all the difference. In today's digital age, advertising can seem overwhelmingly complex. But small business holiday advertising doesn't have to be. The right partner can help bring your holiday advertising ideas to life in traditional, digital, social media and more.
Here are some marketing strategies and festive tips to get started.
Start with a calendar.
This will be the basis for all your planning.
First, make sure all official holidays are marked. Here are the days when banks, financial markets and most government offices are closed, and the mail doesn't get delivered:
- Monday, Sept. 2 – Labor Day
- Monday, Oct. 14 – Columbus Day
- Monday, Nov. 11 – Veterans Day
- Thursday, Nov. 28 – Thanksgiving
- Wednesday, Dec. 25 – Christmas
- Wednesday, Jan. 1 -- New Year's Day
Now make a list of other non-official holidays that are important to your business, community and customers. Each will depend on your situation. Add any big local days coming up – an annual town festival, for example.
- Sunday, Sept. 8 – National Grandparents Day
- Sunday, September 29 – Rosh Hashanah
- Wednesday, Sept. 11 – Patriot Day
- Tuesday, Oct. 8 – Yom Kippur
- Wednesday, Oct. 16 – Boss's Day
- Thursday, Oct. 31 – Halloween
- Sunday, Nov. 3 – Daily Saving Time ends
- Friday, Nov. 29 – Day After Thanksgiving, holiday in 22 states
- Friday, Nov. 29 – Black Friday
- Saturday, Nov. 30 – Small Business Saturday
- Monday, Dec. 2 – Cyber Monday
- Sunday, Dec. 22-30 – Hanukkah
- Saturday, Dec. 14 – Free Shipping Day
- Thursday, Dec. 26-Jan. 1 – Kwanzaa
- Tuesday, Dec. 31 – New Year's Eve
Extend your small business holiday advertising plan into the new year. Just think of all the gift returns, use of gift certificates and cards, pledges to make good on New Year's resolutions etc.
How can this calendar help you reach your business goals?
What did you want to accomplish this month, quarter and year? How have you progressed on those goals? And how do you want to head into 2019?
Holiday advertising ideas should focus on these questions. And the right partner can help you consider all of the variables, specific to the needs of your business.
For example, you should launch your online ads on TV, online and mobile as early as October, to gain momentum heading closer to the main holidays. Also: Do you want to be open on Thanksgiving Day? Does your community appreciate a strong Kwanzaa participation? How can you make the most of Cyber Monday?
The tools in your box are powerful:
- Television promotes your brand. Website and foot traffic go up after TV exposure. TV Everywhere (TVE) expands on the power of Television advertising by reaching customers wherever they are watching.
- Digital video extends your reach with contextual and behavioral targeting.
- Online display raises awareness. Targeting accuracy is available to the zip+4 level.
- Mobile targets consumers on the go. And that's never more important than during the holidays.
- Social extends the conversation. We use cross-promotion as an outlet for all media.
Nostalgia can be a valuable component. But you also need a website that is optimized for search engines and mobile devices. Last year, holiday retail sales by mobile skyrocketed 40 percent, with more high growth expected this season.2
Plan ahead to make the most of local advertising options online with demographic, geographic, contextual, re-targeting and behavioral capabilities, so you can find and appeal to the right customers in your area.
Review your calendar. Where can you build value for your customers around your services and products? Where can you be creative, or try a new digital approach?
And where do you want to stick with traditional small business holiday advertising, like the ever-powerful TV?
Spread good cheer.
Yes, you're in business to make money. And yes, we're talking about advertising. But remember to smile, literally and figuratively. Build warmth. Bring value. Relieve stress. Be useful to your customers. That's what your business is all about, right?
Look for community partners. Can you volunteer somehow? Which non-profit would make a good partner? How can you pair advertising with social media selfies?
You can do good in your community and for your advertising budget by building on the other organization's marketing efforts. Your employees will appreciate working for a company that wants to make things better. This is famously so for millennials, in particular. 3
Try to find an active, robust organization with values you share. Talk with their marketing team about their calendar, and compare them to yours. Where does their agenda match your desire to give back to the community?
In advertising and real-life interactions, show customer appreciation with helpful tips built around your service and products. Customers in turn build appreciation for you, and they'll be more likely to bring you business when their need arises.
Yes, that can take time. That's why early planning grows more urgent every holiday season. Start planning now for a successful holiday season (and beyond), and know that partners like Cox Media are here to help every step of the way.
1 (Source: EMarketer, March 21, 2018, https://www.emarketer.com/Report/US-Holiday-Shopping-Preview-2018-Reviewing-2017-with-Eye-Toward-This-Season/2002214)
2 (Source: EMarketer, March 21, 2018, https://www.emarketer.com/Report/US-Holiday-Shopping-Preview-2018-Reviewing-2017-with-Eye-Toward-This-Season/2002214)
3 (Source: Deloitte Millennial Survey 2018, https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/millennialsurvey.html)