by: Royce Fitzgerald
Fire up the hot chocolate, turn on your favorite Christmas classics and prepare for the seasonal holidays! They are months away, but it’s time to start planning your marketing strategy. How are you going to capitalize on the busiest time of the year?
Your customers might not think about it, but a person in business plans end-of- year marketing at least six months in advance. So, if you have not done so by now, you’re running behind. Strategizing for the holidays can be a challenging,
but enjoyable, process. And it will pay off when well planned.
First, decide which way you are going to proceed. Either you handle the marketing on your own, which will require much of your time but could save money. Or you hire a professional firm which can add to costs, but might gain you more bang for your buck and allow you time to run your day-to-day business. Either way, be aware that the process requires a good amount of time.
Dollars and sense
Set a reasonable budget (hopefully you did this as part of your annual marketing budget). You might have to get creative with your marketing dollars if your budget is tight. Be realistic and accept the actual dollar amount that you have to work with. In other words, if your operation is small, don’t over-spend. If your operation is large, invest accordingly for a good return.
Bear in mind that different mediums require different investment amounts. Making a list is recommended (and check it twice). Reaching out to your market can take different approaches–radio, TV, direct mail, internet, billboards, e-blasts, social media.
Now, refine your list. Where does your market usually focus its attention? Are they driving? Are they in front of the computer most of the time? Do they stay home most of the time? Maybe they spend a good amount of time at the gym. If your target market is under-aged, you really have two markets to consider, the end user as well as the adult who controls the cash.
After analyzing the cost of each medium on your list, select the ones that make good sense and let the fun begin!
What do you want to promote? Will you offer special holiday prices? Extended business hours? Maybe you’ll have a unique item for a short time or perhaps bundle specific items or services that make more sense during that season. You might have more than one thing to say, but fight the urge to say too much. Be creative, have fun and relate your message to the holidays.
Prioritize your messages for the sake of simplicity and memorability. As consumers we tend to remember simpler and fewer messages. The idea is to make contact with your customer and develop a relationship—even if it is brief in the store greeting—then make a sale or close a deal. If the customer wants to purchase because of your promotion, then that’s just icing on the ginger-bread man.
How will you hook the market with your message? Simply splashing your message everywhere might not be enough to persuade someone to pay you a visit. Think about things that may resonate with your holiday market and inspire them to contact you. Here are a few themes that can add depth and meaning to your message.
- The spirit of giving and sharing – Encourage your customer to share your goods and services with others.
- Nostalgia – Tie your message to the good ole days of yesteryear.
- Spirituality – Be thankful for your blessings.
- Creativity – The artist in each one of us begs for an expressive outlet.
- Technology – Stay on the leading edge, be the first.
Now you have a strategy and it’s time to put it in motion. It’s important to develop a visual theme and tone to use consistently throughout the campaign. In developing your campaign, it’s important to realize that there are different technical and design requirements for different mediums. You’ll want to understand those in developing your campaign. The colors, the fonts, the layout are all very important to overall visual communication, and they need to be artfully orchestrated for maximum effectiveness.
With fonts – choose only two or three legible fonts to consistently use throughout. Limit your use of fancy or decorative fonts. With colors – fight the urge to overuse red and green. There are other color schemes that communicate the holiday spirit and are more appropriate for some audiences.
Whatever you do, start planning now. This can be an exciting and profitable time of year, so have fun with your advertising effort. Make it so.
With over 30 years experience in advertising and design, Royce Fitzgerald currently owns and operates Four Leaf Creative, Inc. (FLC) in Fort Smith. Since 2006, FLC has been serving a wide variety of clients, locally and nationally.