The holidays are crucial to marketers. They can end in increased revenue, new customers, and better relationships all round. Or they can end in a colossal disappointment, wasting the company’s resources and affecting future profitability.
Those that succeed make their plans with an eye on the huge spending ball that always drops during the festive seasons. For instance, despite the economic uncertainty looming over this period, total US retail sales are forecast to hit the one trillion dollar mark in the 2019 holidays — the first ever trillion-dollar holiday season. As a marketer, you know at least one thing to be true: That consumers will spend during the holidays.
The following points will show that a lot has to go in before a share of those holiday goodies comes out. If you’re not doing as well as projected, read carefully as these could be the very reasons why.
#1 You don’t know the reason for the season
It’s clear that you’re in the business of business. Meaning you’ll go where the money takes you. While a holiday may not be relevant to you personally, it may be the right fit for your business, requiring you to make a move. However, it’s expedient to familiarize yourself with the holiday before you start your marketing.
One of the cardinal mistakes you can make is to try to reach the audience blindly without first understanding why they are celebrating or basing your judgement on stereotypes. As a business, understanding the customer is your top priority; and that goes all year round. It will be most easily noticeable during the holidays if you don’t.
Have a look at this:
You probably thought it was a Christmas message before you read the subject line, didn’t you? That’s because the email is Christmas themed. Now, I don’t know how well the company did on that sale but to a Jewish audience, this demonstrates a lack of awareness of the holiday and at worst, it’s offensive and possibly sacrilegious.
Understand the reason for the holiday and you’re on your way to success.
#2 You failed to plan
In other words, you’ve been planning to fail all year long. How is this possible? If you waited too long to start planning your holiday marketing campaign it follows that you didn’t have enough time to get all the details in order. You probably didn’t allocate enough time to understanding what the holidays were about.
Most holidays fall at or around the same time every year. Yet it always seems to come as a surprise to some marketers. Your need to plan early and start marketing for the holidays in advance. Take Christmas, for instance. Most businesses start marketing around Black Friday. This leaves them very little time to fully develop a working plan. The spike in advertising costs caused by the high demand doesn’t make things easier.
Imagine competing in the same market as another business that starts planning for the Christmas holiday in June. It means they could set their campaign base by August and start brand awareness and customer acquisitions by September. Between October and December, all they are doing is adding supplements to their already strong campaign, to really maximize the sales. In January they’re collecting the last of the holiday spend through post-holiday sales and upsells as they implement customer retention strategies. If you started just before Black Friday, you can see how you never stood a chance.
The formula is simple: If you know you’re targeting a consumer during their holiday, start your planning early.
#3 Your messages aren’t getting home
Communication is the key to marketing. If you don’t have an audience, you don’t have prospective customers.
Your target customer is a target for so many other businesses that are vying for their attention that, during the holidays, you have to work harder to get an audience. Email, the most popular business communication tool, gets crowded with holiday-themed messages and getting subscribers to open their emails becomes one of the biggest challenges for the marketer.
Your messages might also fail to reach home because they are not engaging. Even when your email gets opened, if it’s not engaging enough to the customer, they are probably not going to stick around long enough to get the message.
These challenges aren’t insurmountable. Starting your preparations early can help you create anticipation for your holiday messages, ensuring they are at least seen when you send them. Going back to the basics of email marketing, you can remind yourself how to write great subject lines that get clicked on. Gamification can help you bring a fresh twist to your emails, making them more engaging and effective. Hiring a copywriter to help write your messages can also have a significant impact on how they are received.
#4 You don’t know how you’re doing
Measuring marketing performance is a natural extension of planning and budgeting. You can’t spend wisely if you don’t understand the impact of your campaign. Similarly, it’s difficult to project this year’s holiday sales if you don’t have an accurate record of how you performed last year.
Evaluating your marketing performance helps you determine which elements of your marketing mix are effective and which ones you need to modify. It also tells you which of your business products, services, and ideas resonate with your customers and stakeholders. Additionally, you can use your analysis as social proof, improving the confidence of the holiday shoppers in your brand.
The solution here seems to be direct. If you plan your campaign, you will have to get to a point where you develop the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and make a plan for the measurement of results. Thus, planning and preparation save the day again.
Final Word: Plan ahead
Preparation is the foundation of success for holiday marketing campaigns. Proper planning allows you to craft your message, track your performance, and adjust for the customer influx. On the other hand, if you’re not prepared, you risk making PR disasters and throwing too much money at challenges you could have otherwise easily overcome.
The 2019 season is almost over. 2020 is a whole new year of similar holidays that you can take advantage of. The best thing to do now is to start planning. Make a list of holidays throughout the year that is relevant to your business and lay down concrete plans on how you’re going to conduct your business to ensure you’re in the best position to succeed.