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Your Essential '12 Days Of Holiday Season Marketing' Checklist

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It’s happened. The Christmas decorations have hit the malls and shopping districts. Although the appearance of Christmas lights make me happy, they also cause me some alarm. Why? Because if the holiday season is fast approaching, then I have a lot to do, like a lot.

I hear you quietly freaking out too: Aside from trying to quickly start those New Years resolutions you promised to achieve before the year is out, there are social events to attend, families to organise, holidays to plan and, of course, a business to run.

Stress no more, I’ve got your back. The build-up to holiday period is a great time to focus on leveraging silly season marketing so that you finish the year strong and you are well-prepared by the time the New Year comes along. You just have to be a little organised.

So, forget the 12 Days of Christmas; what you need is the 12 Days of Holiday Season Marketing. This handy checklist will get you in the marketing spirit and help you avoid overwhelm during this busy time of year:

checkbox1. Create a goals calendar

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First up, draw up your 12 Days of Marketing Calendar. Decide on what sales and marketing goals you want to achieve, critical goalposts and any specials or holiday promotions you want to implement. This will help maximise your efficiency over the next few weeks and keep you on task.

checkbox 2. Give your website the once-over

Take the opportunity to give your website design, functionality and copy a once-over to ensure it’s on message:

  • Check your copy is optimised, and make updates or changes where necessary.
  • Click on all links to ensure they are still directed to the right live pages.
  • If you have an ecommerce site or various online submission forms, make sure they are all working without glitches and gremlins.
  • Consider using your homepage to promote a holiday special or New Year discounts.
  • Is your website mobile-friendly? Don’t forget that many people will be away from their office over the holiday season and will be accessing websites via their phones or tablets.
  • Ensure there is an easy path for users to follow on the mobile version of your site and that all CTAs are easily found.

checkbox 3. Create cheery collateral

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Spread the holiday cheer with shareable content.

  • Create holiday-themed blog posts (Just remember that people are bombarded with advertising at this time of year, so try to reduce the sales speak and continue to provide your audience with something helpful) Some examples: 
    - If you’re a builder: Fun family holiday DIY projects
    - If you’re a creative agency: Memorable Christmas card ideas for businesses
    - If you have an IT company: 12 Christmas present ideas for tech-heads
    - If you’re an electrician: The most impressive Christmas light displays
    - Here’s an article we wrote inspired by Christmas: Has Your Architect Been Naughty or Nice? 25 Wonderful & Weird Christmas Gifts for Architects
  • Create some festive graphics and banners to use with your online marketing material and update your website and social media
  • Create a social media campaign, such as a photo competition, using a unique hashtag

checkbox 4. Schedule your social media, newsletters or blogs

You’re probably looking forward to a break from work, but you’re also worried about keeping things ticking over while you’re busy putting yourself in a Christmas pudding coma.

Ensure you stay relevant and top-of-mind over the holiday season by scheduling your social media posts, newsletters and blogs. Your online activity can continue to work hard for you while you’ve got your feet up.

There are several tools that help you manage your social media posts. Here is a selection you can check out and select depending on your budget:

checkbox 5. Send seasons greetings

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No matter what holiday tradition you celebrate - or whether you don’t celebrate at all - it’s still a great opportunity to demonstrate your appreciation to clients, suppliers and supporters. Take the time to strengthen relationships with a personal message and also to reach out to connections who may have drifted off the radar.

If you don’t specifically want to send Christmas cards, send out some thank you cards, gifts or vouchers to your biggest clients and congratulate them on a successful year. Consider getting some branded gifts designed to send out to your top customers or use as a giveaway for clients over the holiday period.

The image above is a Christmas gift sent out by New Zealand agency Whybin/TBWA. It is a plastic bag containing water, a pipe, a carrot and two black pebbles, with the message: “Warmest Christmas wishes from Whybin/TBWA & TEQUILA”. The snowman generated massive publicity for the agency as their clever Christmas message went viral.

checkbox 6. Get in the social spirit

It might be too late to plan THE party of the year now, but make sure you take up all those Christmas party invites that have landed on your desk. They are a great opportunity to connect with industry contacts and network among potential customers or referral sources. Otherwise, you could always join forces with other local businesses and host an open house. Either way, you deserve a new frock.

checkbox 7. Prep for your absence

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If you’re shutting up shop for a while to take a break, have you communicated your holiday period to your clients? Who is going to deal with enquiries or urgent requests while you are away? Do your clients know how to get in contact with you over the break? Set up your out-of-office email responder to click on as soon as you crack the egg nog and skip gleefully out the door.

checkbox 8. Plan for 2015

You want to come back from holiday and channel that revitalised outlook and energy straight away into getting things done.

  • Have your first quarter action plan ready and raring to go.
  • Create a content plan for the year and start filling your content calendar in, at least for the first month or two.
  • Prep some articles so you’re already a step-ahead when you get back into the office.

checkbox 9. Keep seasonal spending in check

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You don’t want to blow the budget and start the new year on the back foot. Set a certain spend for your seasonal marketing and expenses for client gifts and entertainment and commit to it.

checkbox 10. Make a difference

Consider giving back to the industry, your community, or an organisation dear to your heart. Explore potential sponsorship opportunities, volunteer, hold a charity event, or simply just spread some goodwill by surprising random clients with a special deal or discount. My chiropractor holds a Patient Appreciation Day for Thanksgiving and asks her clients to bring food items to donate to the Salvation Army in return for a consultation. Everybody wins!

checkbox 11. Study your stats

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Use analytics to evaluate the impact that your holiday blogs and social media marketing is having on your audience. Use this information to tweak your marketing and optimise your campaign for next year.

checkbox 12. Celebrate your team

Don’t forget to also give thanks to your staff. Creating a positive environment and a great company culture that celebrates success will help your business be known as one that appreciates its staff, has a fun approach to business and is a great place to work.

What other things do you consider important for your pre-holiday checklist?

Photo Credit: Free Digital Photos