By Kalin Kassabov
For many businesses, the holiday season is the most profitable time of year. This is nothing new. However, many aspects of holiday marketing have changed quite dramatically in recent years. If you're using outdated tactics, it will be difficult to keep up with the competition. Let's look at some of the most significant changes in holiday marketing that you need to know about if you want to make the most out of the season in 2017.
Get an Early Start
It seems as though the holiday season starts earlier every year. The days when it all started on Black Friday are long gone. In fact, the signs of the season begin by November now. If you count Halloween, you could even say that holiday marketing starts by Labor Day! The point is, you really need to prepare for the season by the end of summer at the latest. If you sell physical items, stock up on popular products. Make sure you're well-staffed for the season. If necessary, advertise for holiday help.
Target Separate Events of the Season
While we talk about "the holiday season" as if it's one long stretch, it's actually divided into many parts. Halloween is now a huge event that you can tie into your marketing, even if it's just to hold a spooky sale with scary discounts. Other specific holiday and seasonal events you can use in your marketing include:
- End of the fall
- Start of winter
- The New Year
- Holiday break for students (from young kids all the way up to college students)
Depending on your customer base, you can emphasize these or other points in the holiday season. If many of your customers are families with kids, for example, think not only of holiday presents, but activities during the holiday break. Even for adults without children, the week between Christmas and New Years is a good excuse to offer coupons, specials and other enticements.
Incorporate Mobile Marketing
As mobile devices become ever more present in our daily functions, you can't overlook ways to use mobile marketing as part of your holiday marketing strategy. As my own company is involved with helping businesses reach their customers using SMS or text message marketing, I'm always looking for ways to get the most out of mobile marketing.
- Target your messages. Rather than sending out generic messages about your products, target messages based on your customers' particular interests and preferences. To do this, you need to incorporate segmenting into your mobile strategy before the holidays. This is a strategy that yields benefits throughout the year, but it can be especially profitable during the holiday season.
- Send push notifications, coupons and promotions at strategic times. You can also take advantage of geolocation abilities by notifying people of special deals when they're in close proximity to your business. This is a good way to get people to make spur-of-the-moment purchases.
- Create mobile-friendly gift guides. Make sure it's easy for mobile customers to see all of your holiday offerings. If you sell physical products, curate collections by category. If you provide services, you can offer various gift certificates that appeal to different types of customers.
- Attract new customers. The holiday season isn't only a strategic time to reach out to existing customers; it can also be lucrative for attracting new ones. Offer people a holiday coupon for signing up for your text alerts or downloading your app.
Look Ahead to the New Year
While the holiday season officially ends on New Year’s Day, savvy businesses can connect their holiday marketing with customers' needs during the post-holiday season. For one thing, consumers have come to expect extra savings at the beginning of the year. While many businesses simply sell off unsold stock at deep discounts, if you plan ahead, you can offer more strategic deals and target the bargain-hunting consumers seeking post-holiday sales.
Depending on the type of business you have, you may be able to profit from various aspects of the post-holiday period. Think of kids returning to school, people anxious to make good on New Year's resolutions (fitness, healthy meals, self-improvement), winter sports and other ways to address your customers' post-holiday, mid-winter needs. This can help you continue your holiday season momentum and avoid an extreme drop-off in sales that businesses fear at the start of a new year.
These are some ways to make the most out of the holiday season. Naturally, you should make the most out of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, it's equally important to leverage your marketing strategy to encompass the entire, ever-longer holiday season as well as the period immediately following the holidays.
Kalin Kassabov is a founder and CEO of ProTexting.com, a fast-growing enterprise level text message suite of services.