The holiday season is a busy time of year for many small business owners and entrepreneurs. From trying to meet sales goals to promoting holiday content, hosting events and finishing up last minute to-do’s before the new year it can get pretty intense.
Oh, and did I mention also trying to juggle family and friends?
Right now we’re in the thick of the holiday retail season and although you may be slammed, now is actually the perfect time to start preparing your marketing strategy for next year.
I know what you’re thinking. With so much on your plate how can you possibly plan for the next holiday season when you’re just trying to make it through the current one?
Trust me, I totally understand. Between a full roster of clients and two businesses of my own I totally get the holiday hustle however, I’ve also seen first hand the benefits of the two tricks I’m going to share with you and believe me, they’re total game changers! Plus they'll take you less then 5 minutes to do!
Keep reading for two quick and easy things you can do right now that will help you nail your holiday marketing strategy next year and why you should do them now.
- What are some things you’re doing to market your business this holiday season that are working? (i.e. driving traffic to your website, resulting in sales, building brand awareness and customer loyalty?
- What campaigns/promotions/giveaways have you done that have been successful?
- What partnerships/collabs are you working on that are driving sales?
- What is your best selling product so far?
- What kind of feedback are you getting from customers about your shipping times and rates?
One of the best things you can do for your business is to actively pay attention to what’s working and what’s not working and make adjustments accordingly. Not only should this be a key part of your holiday strategy but also your overall marketing strategy.
Did you send an email that had a high open rate and generated new sales? Take note of the subject line you used, the time of day you sent the email, the copy/images you used, etc, etc. Did you offer a high Black Friday discount or free shipping on all orders that actually ended up costing you money rather than making money?
Keep a running list on your phone or in a GoogleDoc that shares what you’ve done so far this holiday season that’s been successful and not so successful and use that data to create a flawless marketing strategy next year based on previous success to increase your chances of making sales.
If something didn’t yield the results you wanted this year, how can you tweak it to make it better next year? If something was a success this season, do it again next year...but better!
As you’re going through your day to day and organically see pictures on Instagram or receive emails from other brands, pay attention to the ones that have good ideas/inspire you and save them.
Now is the perfect time to gather holiday inspiration because it’s literally all around you. If you receive an email from a brand and like their subject line, write it down. If you see an image on Instagram that’s a great way to promote necklaces and you’re a jewelry designer, screen shot it and save it. The point of this is not to copy these brands but to help inspire ideas and creativity.
This inspiration doesn’t necessarily have to come only from similar businesses or competitors. I got a really awesome idea for an email from a shoe company.
Keep a private Pinterest board or folder in Dropbox or GoogleDrive with all your inspo that you can use next year as you plan your holiday strategy. If it’s early enough in the season you could even apply some of these ideas now.
Again, the idea is not to copy, but to be inspired.
So why do I recommend paying attention to these things now? Why can't you wait until after the holidays to do a recap? If you're anything like me, the holidays tend to be a blur and although it's only a few short weeks long, it's easy to get so busy that you forget the details. The benefit of doing it now while you're in the middle of the season is that it allows you to capture your thoughts and ideas now while they are fresh in your mind.
Also, just because you’re keeping tabs now on what’s working/not working and things that inspire you doesn’t mean that you have to plan and hash out the complete details of your holiday strategy for next year. A lot of small business owners and entrepreneurs start planning their holiday marketing strategy in October/ early November, which is a perfectly fine timeline. The benefit of these two tricks is that when you go to create your strategy you can create an informed plan based on previous experiences. You also don't have to reinvent the wheel and rack your brain for creative inspiration because you have a folder full of ideas. If you wait until next year to try to remember that one campaign you saw that was sooo cool you might not remember. Not to mention Googling “cool holiday email ideas for designers” might not give you the same inspo as seeing/saving an email that organically came into your inbox.
Keep track of your thoughts now while it’s fresh in your mind and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your current holiday marketing strategy so that you can learn from the things that didn’t work and do more of what did work. There's a lot of trial and error in running a business and that's totally okay. The businesses that tend to succeed are the ones that pay attention, create strategies and adapt to change.