Advice from the Experts: Planning Your Business’ Holiday Marketing

August 23, 2023  | 

This blog post contains the transcription of a free virtual Lunch & Learn we hosted in August 2023 titled, “Planning Your Business’ Holiday Marketing.” You can view all of our upcoming webinars here.

How to Prepare Your Holiday Marketing Strategy

Who are the Top Experts to Know?

Renee Perkins is the Founder and CEO of Nantucket Island Marketing, a full-service digital marketing agency serving New England. Renee holds dual degrees in Marketing and Environmental Sustainability with a minor in Business Management from Bentley University, a business school outside of Boston where she also played Division II College Soccer. Renee got an early start working with small businesses working in her family’s boating business on Nantucket. Renee has held positions all over Massachusetts in real estate, public relations, hospitality, event planning, non-profits, and more. Since its founding in 2020, NIM has worked with over 150 businesses and has a team of 20 to support. In 2022, Renee was named to Boston Business Journals 25 Under 25 list, recognizing young, ambitious individuals, and future leaders of Boston’s startup scene.

Hayley Denker’s career in marketing has paralleled the booming growth of social media. From hospitality to hair salons to healthcare and professional development, she’s helped grow businesses for the past 12 years refocus their goals and put together a plan to establish REAL results. With an insatiable thirst for learning and a drive to find a solution, she’s found the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing to be exciting and challenging. Outside of marketing and strategy, Hayley spends time with her husband and 2 children in Belmont, MA.

Liz Theresa helps entrepreneurs find clarity and market themselves online with confidence. She’s been in business for more than a decade creating powerful, high-converting websites, memorable brands, and coaching business owners on how they can be more visible online. She wants every entrepreneur to rise and be the star of their own business because let’s face it – a big break isn’t something you wait for – it’s something you make. Be sure to listen to Liz on Biz, her Forbes-acclaimed podcast every Monday for fresh, inspiring, and often hilarious stories of running a business.

When Is the Best Time to Start Planning Your Holiday Marketing Strategy?

If you’re not early, you’re late. If you think about holiday gifting for your clients, you really want to place your orders in September and October to ensure plenty of time.

A benefit to planning your holiday marketing early is you’re not distracted by what everyone else is doing, and you’re not looking at that for inspiration. You’re able to cut out that noise and focus on what strategically makes sense for your business, what you are trying to do, and what would be fun and interesting to do over the holidays to delight and surprise your audience. If you start to do it around November, you’ll get distracted by what everyone else is doing.

Being early obviously is super important, but people have this mentality where early means you have to have every single thing in order several months in advance in order to have a successful holiday campaign. You can certainly think about ideas, but don’t feel pressured to have everything done at the start of summer.

You don’t need to have all your emails, social media posts, blog posts, whatever written, but having a skeleton of what you want to focus on will make your planning so much more easier once the time actually comes.

What Components Should Go Into a Holiday Marketing Strategy?

This is your opportunity to be gifty when you’re normally not a gifty business. Think about what you sell that could be given as a gift, even if people might not see it that way at first.

If you’re a business and you don’t know where to start, start small start with one or two product or service offerings. You don’t have to come up with this million dollar campaign with some crazy, cheeky tagline. You can definitely start very simple, so don’t overwhelm yourself. Additionally, start small with how much marketing you’re doing and where.

Remember what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re really busy during the holiday season, perhaps consider selling gift cards instead of direct services so people can redeem them at a later time.

It’s also fun to plan an event with someone else so you can take advantage of visibility from another brand. In this sense, you’re still getting the visibility during this time of year, even if you’re busy.

What Should Businesses Avoid in Their Holiday Marketing?

Avoid over communicating and trying to do it all. If you stretch yourself too thin and you’re not giving each platform, each service, or each product that you’re offering enough attention, it’s not going to be as effective as you’d like it to be.

Additionally, avoid cookie cutter holiday marketing. You’re not making a connection, you’re not making an impact, and you’re not furthering your relationship with anyone if all you’re doing is throwing some twinkling lights up on a social post or doing the same thing that everyone else in your industry is doing. Come up with something that feels authentic to your brand values.

Don’t offer something just to offer something. Think about what your customers or what your clients would actually like to see, and then also make it attractive.

You can also be creative and do something different, like having a collection of your brand.

Is It Necessary to Participate in Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday?

If, during the holidays, you have something that’s perfect for your ideal clients, and you want them to be a part of your brand at that time, participate in these holidays because consumers are often looking to see what they can purchase at this time. These holidays offer time-based urgency as well as quantity-based urgency, which push people to buy.

Think about your Chamber of Commerce or local business association, and see if they’ll have a holiday stroll. If they do, and if they travel through where your business is located, it’ll be driving traffic for you. Exposure is always a good idea.

How Can Businesses Stand Apart from Others with Their Holiday Marketing?

Take advantage of local events. Additionally, focus on value added content. Make sure every single piece of content you’re putting out adds value in some way to retain your audience’s attention. Think about what would benefit your clients, too.

How Do You Know If Your Holiday Marketing Strategy Is Working?

Selling is serving. Never be afraid to promote what you’re offering, as it’s always going to benefit your audience.

Additionally, think about what you’d like your KPIs to be, stick to them, and track them. However, remember that people might not be engaging with your content, but they are seeing it.

What Else Is Important to Know When It Comes to Holiday Marketing Strategies?

Create a skeleton of what your holiday marketing’s going to look like. You don’t have to get very specific and have it all planned out, but at least figure out what you’d like to do. Along with that, be sure to engage with your audience and nurture them consistently.

Talk with the people that are working your business day to day, the people who are talking to your customers, and invite them to the table and ask them what they think is a good idea for a holiday marketing strategy.

Don’t have that all or nothing mentality in the sense of having to do absolutely everything. Stick to the things that you know, and run with those.

Resources for Massachusetts Businesses

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