Let’s be honest — no one wants to see Christmas decorations in July, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to at least start planning your holiday marketing. July 2nd was the halfway point for the year, which means we now have somewhere around 90 days until holiday marketing starts in full force. (On a side note, how are we already halfway through this year and also, how has this year not ended already?!) You don’t want to get caught unprepared in the avalanche that is end-of-year marketing, needing to play catch-up or struggling to stay afloat.
Starting early with your planning is one of the most important things you can do to make sure your holiday sales run smoothly and knock your sales out of the park. Think about your schedule: Once August hits, businesses and parents start focusing on back-to-school sales. After August and September, we start going into Halloween marketing, then Thanksgiving, then Black Friday… and all of sudden, it’s December.
If you don’t have a plan early, you can find yourself trying to create something on the fly as things get busier and busier for your business. And the plans that come from that aren’t the best they can be.
When we talk about planning your holiday marketing in July, we usually share 5 reasons why business owners should start early:
1. You have downtime! If summer is your slow season, this is the perfect time to start planning for a busier time of year. When you try to plan in the middle of your busy season… well, that’s not really planning — that’s chaos. That’s trying to fly by the seat of your pants. And that means you forget things, or you don’t have time to set up systems to be the best they can be.
Not only do you have downtime right now, but this is the perfect time to experiment to see where your audience is online and what kind of messaging resonates with them! You wouldn’t have time to do this during the busy season, but maybe by experimenting during the summer, you find something that works so much better for your marketing. Which leads me to reason number 2…
2. Ads are cheaper during the summer! As a rule of thumb, Facebook ads are somewhat cheaper during the summer months, because a lot of companies drop their ad spending, opening up inventory. That gives you the opportunity to experiment with new strategies and ads for a much lower cost than you will pay during the holidays. Take advantage of your downtime and play around with this!
3. Marketing campaigns can take around 6 months to start really gaining traction. This means that by starting now in July, you’ll be in a prime position to really push your products or services during the holiday shopping season. Spend the time right now to make sure your infrastructure is set up properly, plan your messaging, schedule your sales, and work out when your big sales pushes will be. If you need help getting started with that, an editorial calendar can be a great resource to get started.One of the reasons it takes some time for campaigns to get traction is because digital marketing is all based on data, and it takes time to collect that data.
Start by making sure your marketing infrastructure is set up properly: Do you have a Facebook Pixel, Google Analytics, or LinkedIn Pixel installed on your website? Are they working and collecting data properly? If not, get it fixed now — this data will be gold to you when you start holiday marketing in a few months.
4. You can make sure your customers know who you are! One of the reasons we recommend starting early is because organic marketing, including social media, email marketing, and more, can take time to get traction. You want to start putting out messaging now, so people will recognize when your company pops up in their inbox or social media feeds.The reaction you want to get in a couple of months is, “Oh right, I remember this company. There was something I wanted to get from them, and now I’ve got a great idea for a gift for somebody for the holidays.” But if you wait to start sending out email newsletters until a week before Black Friday, the reaction you’ll get is a bunch of people marking your email as spam. People don’t want advertisements or to be sold to; they want to feel like they’re a part of something, and that you’re bringing them something of value because you care about them.
5. When you build this relationship with your customers, you don’t have to rely on the calendar to tell you when your “Black Friday” is. You can take advantage of early sales opportunities, or market to the people on your list who like to shop early.Personally, I like to have my holiday shopping planned out or done by mid-October. So I appreciate businesses that start curating opportunities for me to get my holiday shopping done early. Amazon is a great example of this in 2020: Immediately after their Prime Day ended on October 15th, they shifted their marketing and website into holiday sales promotions. You can bet that they get early sales from customers because of it, especially in 2020.
None of this means you need to go out and put a holiday wreath up on your door or put your Christmas inventory out today. But by taking steps to plan ahead now, you can save yourself a ton of time and money once November rolls around.
If you need a jump start on getting your holiday marketing planned out, don’t forget to download our free Editorial Calendar Template here!