In December and January, some small business owners experience their biggest sales of the year, while others twiddle their thumbs, wonder where all the money has gone, and panic about how they’re going to manage on reduced cash flow for two. Whole. Months.
Regardless of which camp you fall into, you need to get busy with your Christmas marketing NOW if you want to take advantage of the opportunities available over Christmas and the New Year.
I understand summoning the energy to focus on marketing at this time of year can be tricky especially if, like me, you have a shopping list the length of your arm, and/or can think of nothing you deserve more after a mammoth year of work than putting on your glad rags and heading out to drink bubbly with your buddies in the late afternoon sun.
But never fear – I’ve put these quick checklists together to help you get the most out of your Christmas marketing time without sacrificing all the fun bits of the festive season.
Get your New Year and Christmas marketing material ready now
The time is now, especially for those of you who sell products or services people tend to buy in the lead-up to Christmas, or if your business tends to kick off in the New Year when people are filled with the desire for a fresh start in their health, personal life or business.
Below are some of the things you should be thinking about now, if you haven’t already done so:
- If you’re planning to make special offers for Christmas or directly afterwards in the New Year, what shape will they take? Think about your pricing, products and services and most importantly, the messaging that will make it easy for someone to decide to purchase.
- What date does your campaign need to start if it’s going to maximise sales? It might be sooner than you think!
- What’s the last date someone can order and be guaranteed delivery before the public holidays hit? Don’t forget you’ll need a different date for international orders.
- Will you promote your offers via email, social media, or something else? Who will you target?
- What copywriting and graphic design elements do you need in place before the campaign can roll out? If you’re planning to outsource these, don’t leave it too late, because this can be a busy time for copywriters and designers, and many commercial printers close down for an extended period in December / January.
- What’s your budget for creating and distributing your marketing material? Consider your expected sales volume, and decide how much you’re prepared to spend to get those sales in the door. Don’t forget to consider factors like copywriting, design, social media advertising and printing.
Get strategic to survive the “slump” ahead
On the other hand, if Christmas and New Year are typically quiet for you, now’s the time to think outside the box and come up with innovative ways to encourage your clients to buy, even if they usually wouldn’t at this time of year.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Can you come up with a compelling offer for your clients to buy now, rather than in the New Year? Perhaps you can make the price more attractive than usual, add some bonus offers, or speed up your usual turnaround time.
- How can you frame your marketing message in a way that makes the decision to buy effortless and enticing?
- Can you put a new spin on an existing product or service that makes it more relevant to either the Christmas or New Year season? For example, could you tweak the features or inclusions, or explain how it will make life easier in the busy time ahead?
Tactical marketing activities like these can mean the difference between having positive and negative cash flow at this time of year, but are best not left til the last minute; the sooner you start working on them, the more likely you’ll be to identify a strategy that hits the spot, and execute it in time to reap the benefits.
Plan a Christmas marketing marathon
If you really are going to have time on your hands over the next couple of months, you owe it to yourself to use it wisely. Taking a break is SUPER important, so make like Noel Ranger and start planning your out-of-office message now if it makes sense for your holidays to coincide with the natural ebb and flow of your sales cycle.
However, if you’re going to be in work mode, then this is the perfect opportunity for a marathon planning and productivity sprint where you create the marketing material that will make the cash register go ring-a-ding-ding in the New Year.
Here are some pointers to get you thinking:
- Start by assessing what’s been working in your existing marketing activity, and what’s fallen flat. Ideally, measure the return on your investment in both dollars and time, but if that’s not possible, at least get a gut sense of how things have panned out. With that info in hand, decide on the marketing material that will make the most impact in the months to come.
- Realistically, given the time you have available, how many of the items on your list do you think you can achieve over the break between busy periods?
- Do you have the skills to take these items on yourself, or would you be better off engaging a professional copywriter, graphic designer and/or other professional and to use your time to project manage the process?
- Before you get started, make a plan for what you’re going to achieve in your sprint sessions, and by when. Otherwise if you’re like me, you might just find yourself engrossed in the novels you received for Christmas, and not interested in rolling your sleeves up at all!
Devoting a week or so to producing content and marketing material in late December or early January is a strategy I love employing in my own business, having stolen the idea from this post that Dan Norris wrote for Flying Solo eons ago.
In the years since reading it, I’ve found that the combination of being well-rested after the Christmas break, fielding fewer emails and phone calls than usual from clients, and putting myself onto restricted work hours conspires to make me super-productive and creative.
On my radar for this coming year will be developing the content for a series of new online courses and packages for my coaching clients, revising the workbook for a seminar I run every few months, and getting a head start on some of my blog posts and social media graphics so they’re ready and waiting when I need them later. For even more ideas on how to have a marketing blitz this New Year, check out the next article in this series.
By the way, all this is easy for me to prioritise because I’ve already created my marketing plan. If you don’t have one yet, there are umpteen reasons why you really should, so it might be worthwhile making that the focus of your marketing marathon.
Are Christmas and New Year times of feast or famine for you, and what Christmas marketing tactics will you use to maximise the opportunities available this year?