If You’re Holiday Campaign Failed, Start Working on Next Year’s Right Now

The holidays have arrived, and we can put paid to the 2015 holiday shopping season. How did your marketing plans end up in reaching out to your current or to new markets. Why do the holidays seem to sneak up on us every single year? As much as we try to prepare ourselves for family, shopping, gift giving and travel, it’s no wonder we often forget about our businesses marketing during all the holiday mayhem.

It’s quite common for business owners to freeze their marketing efforts over the holiday season with the notion that they’re going to start strong in the New Year; little do they know, however, just how many opportunities have passed them by.

The holidays can be the best time to bring in new business and reconnect with current clients and customers. The holiday rush is not just for brick-and-mortar department stores; it can also help your business by boosting revenue and customer loyalty before the end of the year.

Here are the top seven marketing mistakes businesses make during the holidays, Now that you know what they are, DON”T MAKE THEM Again for Next Year’s Holiday Season!!

Lay your marketing plan early! You didn’t have a marketing plan going into the holiday season? Your holiday marketing should have been planned in the summertime, but now it’s the holiday season, so what do you do?? If it’s just too late, which, if your reading this, then it is too late, then start with a New Year Marketing Focus. For 2016, set a marketing calendar at the beginning of the year that can serve as a blueprint for your marketing plans year round.

No communications?? Many business owners mistakenly think that offices are closed or people are too busy to be bothered. If you choose not to follow up with leads or customers questions because it’s a busy time of year, you’re making excuses. Although the holiday season is hectic for most, for some businesses it’s actually the slowest and the best time to pick up the phone and make a call to a customer. And you may be surprised at their response that you did call them back, during this hectic time. Remember, Communication is the Key to positioning yourself as a reputable company. Take the time to keep in contact with your customers. There will always be reasons why you can put off contacting a customer. If it’s not the holidays, it’ll be the New Year, or Spring break, then summer. Now is the best time to contact and market to your client base, precisely because so many other businesses don’t.

No holiday offers? People, for the most part, love the holiday season; they like to focus on gift giving, vacations and family time. So if you don’t provide a holiday special or offer that helps them with those goals, you are doing them–and your business–a grave disservice. Any product or service can be repackaged with a holiday offer or theme. Search online to see what other companies are offering; it might spark an idea or two for your business.
Not sending holiday greetings to customers. These are people that have been loyal, bought from you in the past and have supported your business year round; you need to let them know that you are not only thinking about them over the holidays but that you are grateful for their business during the year. Take a few hours out of your busy week and hand write a holiday greeting card. There are automated systems such as SendOutCards.com where you can design your own card (to add a personal touch) and you can even send a gift with the card. In addition, this service will put the postage on the card and send it for you, saving you a trip to the post office.

Forgetting to ask how your clients are doing. This is something that most businesses completely miss the boat on; they do not survey clients and customers from the current year to see how they can improve in the future. How are you going to know what worked and didn’t if you don’t ask? If you keep doing what you have always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten. Find out what worked and what didn’t, look at your systems and your marketing, and then make improvements and enhance your current offerings. Offer a free gift or holiday discount to customers who take the time to complete your survey.

Shirking your public relations– Many businesses don’t reach out to the media during the holidays because the owners are under the impression that media outlets shut their doors or are too busy to bother with new story ideas. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The media is always open and looking for the next great story or feature. If you can tie your story in with the season, all the better. If you missed the holiday calendar, you can still plant a seed for a feature in the new year. A great way to connect with the media during this time of year is to contact the media using LinkedIn, which will usually go right to their inbox.

Not tapping into year-end budgets– There are thousands of companies that earmark holiday and year-end budgets–that money must be spent. These budgets are usually set prior to the holidays and focus on staff or client gifts and employee training as well as planning for the new year. What service or product can you offer to help them meet their budget and year-end goals? If you do a keyword search that applies to your industry or topic on social sites such as Twitter, you can see what people are looking for and talking about. This can help you plan and approach contacts with holiday offers.

Every year, a few weeks before Thanksgiving, I’m asked for my top tips on holiday marketing. I always have the same answer: Thanksgiving is long past time to start thinking about your social, mobile and digital holiday campaigns.

Holiday marketing may seem like a no-brainer since the pre-holiday consumption cycle is a yearly event, but you have failed if you wait until the last minute to begin convincing customers to give your business attention during their holiday shopping. The relationship with your audience has to be built continuously throughout the year so that you’re on your customers’ minds well before they start creating holiday shopping lists.

If you consider your holiday campaign as separate from your “regular” digital and sales campaign, then you have failed as a marketer/store owner. The practice of running separate campaigns without developing a long-term social, mobile and digital marketing campaign strategy is counterproductive to building a strong, genuine relationship with your customer and a strong brand presence overall.

If you’re only thinking cyclically, then you are also falling into the trap of not thinking about the next generation of marketing capabilities available to you. Brands run the risk of being perceived as opportunistic and not authentic. Frankly, if you’re just starting to shake hands now, that is going to feel like a fairly untrustworthy and short-term perspective to your audience.

Don’t get me wrong – We are not saying that you shouldn’t have launched strong, holiday-inspired campaigns during the holiday season, only that those campaigns should be part of an overall social, mobile and digital marketing process, that is built on both brand awareness and customer relationships, built up over the year of social media contacts. The holiday messaging should be viewed as a natural continuation of the conversations you are already having with your audience.

Here are some tips for how to make your marketing plan a little better for next year:

1. Don’t think of mobile strategy as an afterthought. It must be part of your marketing program from the beginning.

2. Connect the offline with the online; e.g., the in-store experience should sync with online promotions, (coupons, ads, etc.). It is vital to capture who is purchasing in store and online and what their interests are—and then learn to reach them at all touch points.

3. Remember one word: persistence. Your brand’s marketing should be one fluid motion, without stops and starts because of the holiday. Adjust it in real time. Don’t just put it out there and wait until the end to monitor it and decide in hindsight that it needed some tweaking. If you do, then you are reacting too late!

Luckily for your marketing team, social, mobile and digital marketing tools are more affordable and powerful than ever. The hardest part of running campaigns is figuring out where to begin. However, if you just started evaluating marketing tools in October for the holidays, you already lost campaigning momentum. This should have been on your radar back in early August, that’s when the seeds need to be planted for a Fall/Winter Harvest!!!

Refocus on creating a continuous strategy that allows your brand to seamlessly guide the conversation from daily brand considerations to holiday and seasonal shopping. Your New Year’s campaign resolution should be to start now to create continual, persistent relationships for your brand.

With the holiday shopping season of 2015 just behind us, focus on full-filling those last minute holiday orders, that just missed the cutoff time for shipping, satisfy those returns that are starting to come in. Keep everything in perspective and be thankful for the customers that chose your store to shop from. Then take a moment, step back, realize what you have accomplished in 2015 and most important —— breathe!