By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: October 1, 2014
The holidays creep up on us fast, and it seems like each year the big retailers start their holiday sales sooner and sooner. Last year, for example, retail giants Walmart and Target both began their holiday deals well before Thanksgiving, with campaign planning no doubt starting several months prior.
Should your small business be doing the same and can you really benefit from jumping on the holiday marketing bandwagon sooner rather than later? Of course you can! Here’s why – and how:
There’s a lot of ground to cover
According to a 2013 report by Accenture, 23 percent of shoppers start shopping in the early fall, and nearly three quarters will be finished by the end of November! That’s a lot of ground to cover. Start late and you’ll miss the boat. Start sooner and you’ll have a rolling strategy to stay top of mind as key holiday milestones come and go.
The early bird gets repeat customers
According to a 2013 survey by Constant Contact, participating in holiday season marketing is a rewarding venture for small businesses, with 52 percent of respondents reporting that new customers attained during the holidays become repeat, loyal customers.
Poor planning = poor performance
Constant Contact also reports that only 31 percent of small businesses surveyed start planning for the holidays between two and three months in advance. Now this doesn’t mean that these businesses won’t be ready, but it’s more than likely that the campaigns and events that they run will be pretty generic. Without planning, these campaigns won’t take into account what’s worked well in the past (and I don’t mean gut feelings, but real, hard metrics). They also won’t allow much time for originality, no matter how creative you think you are.
These campaigns will probably work to drum up some business, but will they be wildly successful? Will they make your business stand out so much that new customers become loyal customers, even when the holiday décor is taken down?
Last-minute budgeting isn’t easy
Reactive marketing can quickly erode your marketing budget – cutting back money allocated to other areas and, at worst, eating directly into your bottom line. If you start planning your holiday marketing ahead of time, you can spread the costs over several months so that cash flow isn’t impeded and you are ready to roll come the holiday season.
Get better pricing
Starting early may also pay off in terms of securing a better deal on design and printing costs as well as other vendor incentives to help keep your campaign costs lower. Coming off the long slow summer, these companies will be eager to entice companies to start spending sooner rather than later.
Take a weight off your shoulders
Planning now can make an already stressful time easier to manage knowing that your campaign is up and running and delivering you a health return on investment.
Whether you’re a retailer or not, check out these tips amassed by SBA.gov contributors and small business experts.
- Start Now to Plan Your Holiday Retail Marketing Campaign
- 6 Ideas to Turn Your Customer Holiday Gifts Into a Marketing Tool
- 7 Holiday Marketing Tips on a Limited Budget
- 5 Ways to Market Your Business for the Holiday Season
- 5 Ways to Attract Shoppers for the Holidays—and Beyond
- Are the Holidays Your Off-Season? Stay on Top of Business Seasonality With These 7 Tips
- How to Market Your Products at Holiday Crafts Fairs and Flea Markets
- Sponsoring or Hosting an Event this Holiday Season? 6 Ways to Maximize Your Return
- How to Market Your Business with an Event
And if you really must leave it to the last minute: