The 'Profitable Holiday' Marketing Checklist

October 6, 2015

Want to enjoy your most profitable holiday season yet? Now is the time to plan your end-of-year holiday marketing campaign. When you plan early, you’re afforded the time it takes to deploy a sound strategy with well-designed and executed marketing materials. Moreover, you’ll free yourself up to take advantage of last-minute marketing opportunities you would otherwise miss. Boost holiday profits with this 25-point holiday marketing checklist.

1. Set your holiday sales goals

Start by setting your holiday sales goals. What do you hope to achieve with your holiday marketing, and how will you know if your holiday marketing is successful? Make sure your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-related.

2. Develop your strategy

How will you approach customers during the holiday season? Consider your brand, benefits and unique sales proposition. It’s important to define who you are in the marketplace and why customers should buy from you. If you can’t compete with big box stores on price, what can you offer that they can’t? You also need to create a marketing calendar to help you plot out action steps during your holiday marketing campaign. Doing so will help you organize your marketing efforts and free time to take advantage of last-minute opportunities.

3. Focus

Don’t spread yourself too thin trying to compete on every product or service you offer. Instead, focus on your core offering and promote it heavily. When you focus your marketing efforts, you’ll get results. When you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll dilute your efforts and your campaign will suffer.

4. Track and measure response

Create a plan for tracking and measuring response for each marketing strategy you’ll employ. This is the best way to determine whether a given marketing tool yields a positive return on investment, and you can use this information in the future to fine-tune your holiday marketing for success.

5. Bundle packages

Consider ways you can bundle products and services to offer customers more attractive packages at lower prices. For example, a retail gift shop might bundle several different bath care products into a gift basket to move more products quicker.

6. Develop add-on services

You can earn more profits from each individual sales with add-on services. Gift wrapping is a classic example.

7. Determine your “big offer”

What will your big offer be this holiday season? Is it good enough to motivate customers to buy from you? Don’t be afraid to get creative – it’s important to stand out against a sea of competitors.

8. Study your competitors

See if you can recall what your competitors did to market their products and services last holiday season, and be sure to keep an eye on them this year and every year hereafter. Studying your competitors will help you discover what’s working for them, what isn’t, and identify gaps in their strategy you can fill with your own holiday marketing.

9. Direct-mail marketing

Prepare your holiday catalogs, postcards, brochures, sales letters, and other direct-mail marketing materials early. Place them on your calendar so you know when each step of the process needs completed to have your materials ready to mail on time.

10. Print display marketing

In-store banners, posters, flyers, window clings, and point-of-sale displays should be planned and printed early so you’re ready to push customers toward your most profitable products during the holiday sales season.

11. Create incentives

What unique incentives or freebies can you offer to bring holiday traffic to your store or website? A visit with Santa, a customer loyalty card with steeper discounts for specific spends or purchase frequency, or even a free cup of coffee or hot chocolate and toffee on a cold day can get potential customers in your store.

12. Print inserts

Newspaper inserts are expected during the holiday marketing season; plan your inserts to command attention for your sales and draw attention away from your competitors. Determine the best publications to reach your audience and work out insertion deals to reduce your overall investment.

13. Outdoor marketing

Outdoor banners, posters, flyers and yard signs can help you promote your holiday sales to thousands of potential customers any time, anywhere.

14. Prepare your website

Feature your holiday sales on your homepage, create landing pages to work with your print marketing, email marketing, and paid online advertising and motivate customers to take the next step in the purchasing process.

15. Get ready for Black Friday …

Determine how you will compete on Black Friday, a day ruled by big box stores who can afford to take losses on some items in order to profit from additional sales. If you operate a smaller business, you’ll need to be able to offer a unique product or service, or a unique benefit, in order to compete and get your fair share on holiday sales.

16. … and Cyber Monday

If you have the capacity to sell online, you need to plan online marketing and advertising efforts to bring customers to your website. Keep in mind many of your competitors could be ignoring proven print-to-website marketing tools, such as postcards, which could give you an advantage on Cyber Monday.

17. Go social

If you don’t have the time to run your own social media marketing campaign, train an employee to do it or hire an outside firm. Social media can be big for holiday sales, when done right.

18. Print gift cards

We don’t always know what would make great gifts for friends and family, but we’re happy to buy gift cards. Print gift cards to sell to your customers so they can easily pass the joy of shopping with you on to their friends and family members.

19. Send greeting cards

Your greeting cards can include your special offer or a call to action, but they can also simply thank your customers for their business during the past year. Greeting cards are thoughtful and appreciated, and they can help establish customer loyalty.

20. Print calendars

Give away calendars to your target audience for year-round marketing. Be sure to distribute calendars early – before your competitors do – and make them relevant and unique. Include interesting pictures your customers will be happy to display on their walls, and sprinkle your calendar with special deals throughout the year to bring customers through your door every month.

21. Paid print advertising

Identify the best publications for advertising your holiday deals in print. Newspapers, consumer magazines, and trade magazines might be excellent customers sources.

22. Paid online advertising

Paid search engine marketing, online magazine placement, and blog advertising can help get the word out about your holiday sales. Find blogs that cater to your target audience for best results.

23. Email marketing

If you have an email list, be sure to use it heavily during the holiday season. Send emails at least once per week, and more if you have great content to share or special offers. Some companies feature a different offer every day to drum up traffic and sales.

24. Educate your employees

Be sure your employees know about your products, services, holiday deals, and, most importantly, how to help customers choose great gifts. The more helpful your employees, the more money you’ll make during the holiday season.

25. Last-minute opportunity monitoring

Create a strategy to monitor for new and last-minute opportunities daily. Keep an eye out for articles, forum posts, and social media posts on which you can comment (when relevant and useful) to promote your holiday sales. Consider partnering with a non-competing business that shares your customer base to create bundled packages in which both of you can make the sale, and both of you get paid. Incorporate this 25-point holiday marketing checklist into your plan this year, and you’ll have a well-rounded holiday marketing campaign that yields excellent return on investment. Start planning your holiday marketing campaign now.

For more marketing tips and ideas, check out our How To Jumpstart Your Marketing guide.

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About Brian Morris

Brian Morris serves in various capacities as a freelance writer, content developer and public relations specialist for growing small businesses. When he’s not writing, he can be found on the racquetball court - usually getting his tail kicked by guys 20 years older.

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