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Your Ultimate Holiday Marketing Strategy Checklist

Your Ultimate Holiday Marketing Strategy Checklist
As the summer draws to an end, the kids go back to school, adults pack away their summer wardrobes, and everyone begins to settle back into the hectic autumn schedules.
But something seems . . . wrong.
It’s barely September, but suddenly we see Halloween decorations everywhere. Thanksgiving-themed wreaths abound. Turkeys and Santas have begun rearing their ugly heads! It’s bad enough that holiday decorations are on display before the leaves change, but why are Christmas trees already 25% off???
Well folks, ’tis the season to commiserate about how annoying it is that the holidays are stretched out just a little bit longer–and start a little bit earlier–each year.

While Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday (yes, I get really into it), even I roll my eyes when I see Christmas wrapping paper in stores before I need to use my car’s heater.

But instead of seeing this trend as an annoyance, I have a much more productive angle for you. This “Christmas creep” is a wake-up call for your fall marketing campaign! If you have not yet created your marketing strategy and budget for the holiday season (roughly November through January), September is your last chance!
Why am I telling you this? Because in my ten years handling clients at The Go! Agency, I have seen first-hand how last-minute planning can sabotage a company’s holiday earnings. Too many brands waste time and lose money by procrastinating this time of year. The less time that you spend planning your holiday marketing strategy, the less success you will have against the better-thought-out campaigns of your competitors.
Based on my experience, I have identified specific aspects that you should start thinking about NOW in order to kick-start your holiday marketing strategy. Keep in mind that each business is unique (whether you sell products or provide a service), so this is just a springboard for your planning efforts for the season.
Without further ado, let’s jump in! The Go! Agency presents your Ultimate Holiday Marketing Strategy Checklist!
  1. Goals: Of course, goals are the first thing that you need to establish when planning any marketing campaign. What are your goals for the holiday season? Do you want to increase leads and sales? Do you want to receive more brand recognition? More website traffic?
  2. Objectives: Objectives, my friend, are measurable goals. Think of it this way: if your goal is at the top of a staircase, each step would be an objective. Here are a few good examples of objectives: ten new leads per month, ten new sales per month, 1,000 post impressions, or increasing web traffic by 25 percent.
  3. Timing: Should your fall marketing focus on the major winter holidays, or the late autumn holidays? The Christmas holidays are huge for most brands, but you might see increased sales earlier, around Halloween or Thanksgiving!
  4. Discounts/Promotions: Are you prepared to offer any special discounts or package promotions? You better decide now! Even so-called “flash sales” require a lot of planning and preparation. And if you want to have a Black Friday special, you can never start planning too early!
  5. Labor: Do you have the right people in place to execute your holiday marketing campaign, or will you need to look beyond your current staff? For instance, you might have a great marketing manager, but you need an SEO specialist for one part of your holiday strategy. You had better move fast: the demand for talent around the holidays is fierce! Even freelancers can be booked months in advance.
  6. Advertising: This is a key component, especially when it comes to social media marketing. Did you include this crucial piece in your budget for holiday promotions? Where are you going to advertise? How much can you spend on ads? Hey, speaking of which . . .
  7. Budget: You need to account for outsourcing, advertising, and who knows what else! Do you have a budget in place for–or any money left from your annual budget to use on–your holiday promotions? (Pro tip: you should create a specific holiday budget into your annual budget when you pitch it each year and then earmark the funds for the fourth quarter.)
  8. Schedule and Timeline: You need to map out the deadlines for every aspect of your marketing campaign, from creating content to determining release dates. It can be as rigid or as flexible as you need.
  9. Measurements: What tools will you use to measure the effectiveness of this campaign? How will you quantify your goals? This will help you not only determine your success but also refine your future holiday strategy.
  10. Competition: Not sure if you are on the right track? What’s the competition doing for the holidays? Take a look at the strategies of others in your industry (especially direct competitors). The findings may be surprising, but will always be helpful.
These ten items will help you focus on the holiday season so that your marketing campaign does not get left out in the (ahem) cold.
Remember: they sell Christmas trees in August because people will buy them–it’s basic supply and demand. The next time you notice any pre-seasonal cheer, take it as a reminder that you need to get your holiday marketing game in full gear! Keep your eyes on the prize, double down on strategy, carefully consider your budget, and don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. It’s time to get to work!

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