By Eliza Wright
Is your business ready for Black Friday? Your shelves may be stocked, but savvy marketing for the holiday shopping season starts long before that day of shoving and spending.
Retailers, both online and off, rely on holiday sales numbers to fund their business through the rest of the year. So it’s critical that companies implement an effective marketing and promotion strategy before Black Friday.
We’ve all noticed that the holiday shopping season seems to start earlier with each passing year. But your campaign doesn’t need to be the longest or the loudest to be successful. If you understand the trends, listen to your customers, and build a results-driven promotion strategy, your days will be merry and bright.
Plan of attack
So where do you begin? With the holiday season so close, there’s no time to waste on activities that don’t lead to better sales. Make sure you understand how one activity acts as a foundation and stepping stone for the next. A clear structure will keep your strategies from slipping or falling because there’s nothing to hold them up.
Flowcharts, mind maps, and other diagrams are great organizational tools to lay out your progress and create a framework for expectations. Use a diagram—or several—to divide and conquer.
How does your online strategy hold up?
Cyber Monday is known as a more relaxed version of Black Friday, a day when shoppers venture online because they’re exhausted from a weekend of shopping. The truth is that customers are online all weekend long, spending tens of billions of dollars. An effective, attractive, and user-friendly website will help your business capture its own piece of the pie.
Website–Begin your promotion strategy here. While you might be tempted to jump straight into online advertising, you need to have a solid website that’s designed to drive conversions. Your online success hinges on your website, so don’t move on until it’s optimized for a great user experience.
Social media–Once your website is ready, you can move to the engagement phase. Use your social media channels to get the word out—the earlier you can begin, the better. This is digital word of mouth, and while it occasionally spreads like wildfire, a better strategy is to allocate plenty of time to build momentum. These days, it’s not uncommon for big brands to hint at holiday promotions weeks or even months in advance.
Just remember that there’s a balance to achieve here. You need to engage with your potential customers without annoying them. A few tips:
- Be consistent, but don’t over-promote.
- Use a content calendar to plan your social media strategy.
- Post on certain days, and only if you have something worth mentioning. Constant daily reminders should only happen when you’re trying to catch those last-minute shoppers.
- Be sure to tailor your messaging to the platform. While Twitter requires pithy promotions and single-line deals, Pinterest users will appreciate holiday tips, tricks, and guides in the form of high-quality images.
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Email–When will you send out an email to inform your fans that something special is happening? Create a mailing schedule, organize your contacts list, and send the right message at the right time. Maybe you just want to get folks thinking about your business, or perhaps you’re offering a last-minute deal. Either way, don’t neglect email in your plan.
Advertising – Search engines and social networks are great opportunities for even small companies to get noticed. With careful timing and coordination, your listings can reach a substantial audience. Be ready to spend some money in this area—it’s worth it to get the attention of consumers who are ready to buy.
A few words on offline options
Holiday coupons–These are a time-honored tradition, but may not be applicable to your business. Decide whether your customers would appreciate a coupon, and if the coupon should be physical, digital, or both. If you choose to send out paper coupons, notify your fans via social media channels so they know what to expect.
Physical advertising–It never hurts to remind people that you exist! Consumers are bombarded with options during this season—keep your company top of mind with some well-placed outdoor advertising.
Focus on customer service–The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone. Employees who work directly with customers should have the right attitude, the necessary experience, and the determination to help. And don’t be a Scrooge to your support staff—good help is hard to find.
Now that you have this guide in hand, get out there and make some money! The right foundation will yield astounding results.