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When to Start Your Holiday Season Promotions

October is a month for chilly weather, changing leaves, pumpkins—and getting started on your holiday marketing outreach. While it may seem too early to be thinking about candy canes and snowmen, coming up with your end-of-year promotions now can lead to more customers and profits in December.

The winter holidays provide vast opportunities to strengthen bonds with your customers, whether through special gifts, a heartfelt letter, or creative social media promotion. “Marketing is a way to create a really meaningful touch point for the holidays,” says Lorrie Thomas Ross, chief executive officer of Peachtree City, Georgia-based firm Web Marketing Therapy. “It’s about building relationships, both new and existing.”

It’s natural to think you have plenty of time, but the clock is truly ticking. While the rest of the world is thinking about Halloween, use these tips and you’ll end the year with a bang.

Set up a marketing calendar. For a busy entrepreneur, the weeks fly by in the blink of an eye. That’s why it’s important to start your holiday marketing in advance to ensure that you fulfill all necessary tasks. If you have your email template set up, your store decorations ready, and staff responsibilities clearly spelled out, your rollout will be far smoother, especially as employees get distracted or take time off around the holidays. “You want to have the whole chain of events lined up to prepare you and your staff for when people get really busy,” says Thomas Ross.

Follow the “Three Vs.” An ideal holiday marketing plan should voice both value and values to your customers. Ensure your promotion offers something of value, be it a discount in December, a special gift, or an educational promotion. The outreach should also communicate your values as a company, such as if you follow a set of ethical principles or volunteer with a charitable organization. Finally, voice your value and values loud and clear in any available format. “Send that beautiful email, or create that beautiful image and put it on social media,” Thomas Ross says.

Bring on expert help. You don’t have to do everything yourself. If you don’t have the time or creativity to dream up a brilliant holiday marketing plan, bring in a consultant for just a few hours a week to envision and manage seasonal duties while you remain focused on your core business. An outside consultant can bring a wide breadth of expertise in traditional marketing, online and social media outreach, and more to spread your message far and wide. “Do what you do best and consider hiring others to do the rest,” says Thomas Ross.

Get in the holiday spirit. No matter how you ramp up your holiday advertising campaign, have fun while you’re at it. “If it’s not fun, it’s seriously wrong,” Thomas Ross says. The web provides space for cost-effective, lighthearted yet far-reaching promotions, like a boosted Facebook season’s greeting, making it easy to inject both you and your customers with holiday excitement.

Whatever your plan, these holiday marketing tips should be a piece of a larger, proactive strategy to take advantage of seasonal events year-round and maintain a point of contact with your customers. “What I suggest for organizations is never take your foot off the gas pedal when it comes to marketing,” Thomas Ross says. “We do not plan to fail; we fail to plan.”

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Related Topics: Marketing , Digital