Christmas In July: Plan Your Holiday Promotions NOW

With August fast approaching, small businesses should be thinking about Christmas, as well as all of the holidays over the next six months. Holidays provide great hooks for marketing, but it’s important to prepare well in advance so that you aren’t rushing on last minute deadlines and missing opportunities.

Go Month to Month

Forget the 12 days of Christmas: Charlie Cook, author of The New Profit Rules, says almost every small business is too focused on trying to get new customers rather than tap into existing ones. Furthermore, he advocates thinking long-term and developing a 12-month email or postcard campaign that contains great offers on products or services tied to the season. If your Black Friday (November 25th) and Free Shipping Day (December 18th) reminders are automated and ready in advance, you won’t forget them. Don’t reinvent the wheel every year. Keep all yours files for holiday promotions on a shared drive for review and implementation next year.

Take a Gift From Your Competition

If you plan early, you can research what holiday promotions succeeded and failed for your competition, and borrow (or avoid) some of their techniques. With this in mind, just plug in your messaging and differentiation points.

Think Beyond Christmas

From “Different Colored Eyes” to Pecan Pie, every product or service you can imagine has a holiday. As you scan lists of holidays, look for tie-ins to your business. If you’re an organizer, National Simplify Your Work week in August is a natural, for example. If you can’t find a holiday, make one up. Wellcat Holidays, an online retailer, came up with “Embrace Your Inner Geek” Day,” which let people tout their love of, “dungeon games, comic books and doing vampire dress-up.” What holiday would your customers love to celebrate?

Get an Early Start

Danny Peterson, founder of Integrity Home Pro, sends out his business’ holiday cards to arrive the day after Thanksgiving. Doing so separates him from the mass of other mailings. The greeting is focused on existing customers, and has a personal touch, with a picture of Peterson and his family, as well as a discount coupon. Additionally, instead of sending holiday cards in December, send a “post-holiday” card, thanking customers for their patronage.

It’s All Right to Sell Twice

St. Nick makes his list and checks it twice. No reason you can’t double dip too. When customers make a purchase in December, include a discount coupon or gift card with a short retention period to create a sense of urgency.

Extend the Holidays

A post holiday card isn’t the only way to keep the celebration — for both your customers and your business — going. Planning ahead for post-holiday marketing is another great idea. In January, send a discount offer for barbecue accessories to people who bought a grill in December. Post an inspirational message on social media tied to your brand. It’s a great technique to reach people who just made their New Year’s resolutions.

If you plan early, and keep promoting late, you can have a festive and profitable holiday season all year long.

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