How to Create a Holiday Marketing Plan for Beginners [2021]

Create a holiday marketing plan for beginners

Making your lists and checking them twice?

Yes, it’s that time of year already.

If you’re a business owner or immersed in eCommerce, the holidays take on extra importance. It’s not just about making your wish lists and spending time with family and friends, but about increasing business and getting your slice of the holiday pie during the year’s biggest spending season.

So, how do you go about maximizing the holiday season for your business? It all starts with a holiday marketing plan and that’s what we’re diving into in this post. We’ll start by looking at essential dates, discuss planning goals and offers, and look at the channels you can use to communicate with your customers.

Creating a Holiday Marketing Plan

Knowing what dates to plan for helps create the foundation of your holiday marketing plan, so we’ve shared some of the bigger ones below. Your responsibility is to select the dates that make the most sense for your business and focus on those.

Dates to Include in Your Holiday Marketing Plan

  • Thanksgiving, November 25, 2021
  • Black Friday, November 26, 2021
    • This date marks the beginning of the holiday shopping and spending season. Consumers are very familiar with Black Friday and anticipate hearing about Black Friday deals from their favorite retailers and businesses.
  • Small Business Saturday, November 27, 2021
    • Small Business Saturday was created by American Express “on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to Shop Small and bring more holiday shopping to small businesses.”
  • Cyber Monday, November 29, 2021
    • Cyber Monday is observed the Monday after Thanksgiving. This day focuses on eCommerce and encourages consumers to go online for their shopping needs.
  • Giving Tuesday, November 30, 2021
    • Any nonprofits out there? This date is for you! Giving Tuesday officially kicks off the end-of-the-year charitable giving season. This is a great time to make an appeal for funds and donations.
  • Hanukkah, November 28 – December 6, 2021
  • Christmas, December 25, 2021
  • Kwanzaa, December 26, 2021 – January 1, 2022
  • New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2021
  • New Year’s Day, January 1, 2022

After selecting the dates that make the most sense for your business, it’s time to think about what you want to achieve (More foot traffic? More online sales?) and the supporting offers you’ll present to your customers and prospects.

Decide on Your Goals and Supporting Holiday Marketing Offers

Now that you know what days are important to highlight in your marketing materials, it’s time to decide on your goals and your supporting offers. Looking to increase sales by 10% this holiday season? Don’t ignore Black Friday. Consider offering a more traditional discount on goods or services as that’s what many consumers have come to expect for Black Friday.

Depending on your goal and what you’re trying to achieve, your offers may vary — you don’t have to restrict yourself to discounts and coupon codes. When it comes to giving your customers something of value, a little creativity can go a long way. Take a look at the ideas below and start thinking about what your business can offer.

  • Gift Guides
    • Help those indecisive shoppers find the perfect gift with a holiday gift guide. No one ever knows what to buy for Aunt Brenda and Cousin Kevin, but with your input and advice, their names can get crossed off the shopping list early this year.
    • Include a variety of gift ideas catered to different budgets and family members so there’s a little something for everyone.
  • Free Gift Wrapping
    • Want to attract foot traffic to your business on Small Business Saturday? How about offering free gift wrapping with every purchase of a certain value?
  • Offer Free Shipping
    • Drive online orders this Cyber Monday by offering free shipping. You can offer free shipping across all orders or only on orders of a certain amount. The latter option entices customers to add more goods to their shopping carts.
  • Tips, Tricks, & Advice
    • The holidays aren’t just about shopping and spending. Provide value to your customers by giving them relevant tips and advice to help make the holidays less stressful. For example, if you’re a salon you can offer tips on how to pamper yourself during the holidays. This is also a great way to highlight the services you offer and include a way for people to book them.
  • Holiday Recipes
    • Share a favorite holiday recipe from your family (or restaurant if that’s your industry) with your customers to provide value and make a connection without offering a discount.
  • Holiday Photo Contest
    • Ask your customers to share their holiday photos with your business online. You can ask them to tag you on social media or use specific hashtags to make sure you see their posts.
    • You can offer a prize for “best photo” or provide a discount to those who engage with your business online.
  • Gift Cards + Bonus Value
    • Want your customers to buy more in gift cards? Offer a bonus amount with each gift card purchase! For example, every time someone purchases $50 in gift cards you can give them an additional $10 for free.
  • Promote Holiday Events
    • If your business hosts events, whether virtual on in-person, you’ll want your customers to know about them and attend. Drive interest in your events by marketing them to your audience and offering a discount on tickets.

Leverage the Best Marketing Channels for Your Business

The holidays are often a busy, hectic time. With that in mind, it’s important that you get your message to the right audience and at the right time. So, stop and think about all the different ways your customers and prospects interact and communicate with your business. Depending on your business model, it could be in-person, online, via telephone, or any combination thereof.

Below, we’ve listed some of the most popular channels and methods for communicating with your audience. Review them and decide what works best for your business. Just as with the dates we mentioned above, you don’t have to use each and every method of communication. You don’t want to burden your audience during this busy time — just provide value and get your message in front of them so you stay top of mind.

  • Social Media
    • Social media is a valuable tool and almost everyone has a social media account on one platform or another. It’s not important that your business be on every social media platform, just the ones where your customers are.
      • Facebook is a great platform to engage with your customers and audience throughout the year and especially during the holidays. Update your business page’s cover photo with a holiday image to reflect the festive season and post about your special events, discounts, and offers. Most Facebook users access the app through their mobile devices, so it’s a fantastic way to target local consumers.
      • Twitter’s platform works wonders for engaging with your audience and sharing bite-sized content that’s both helpful and insightful. Consider sharing your tips and advice on this platform, and don’t forget to share your offers. If your customers reply to you, engage them in conversation on this fun channel.
      • Instagram is heavy on visuals — which is perfect for styling and showcasing the items you mentioned in your gift guide. Share photos of your staff at your annual holiday party or behind the scenes clips as your business preps for the season.
      • YouTube’s popularity isn’t going anywhere. People love engaging with videos and absorbing content in that medium. Consider “unboxing” a popular product and sharing it with your audience.
  • Website
    • Your website is your business’s home base online. Update the images and text on your site to reflect the holiday season and any special events or offers you may be running.

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  • Email
    • Reach your customers where they are every single day: Their inbox. A few well-crafted emails to highlight your holiday offerings and events can do a lot to drive business. Include easy-to-click buttons that take your readers directly to your online store and the products you’re looking to sell. Don’t forget to include your discounts along with a clever subject line to entice your audience to open your emails.
    • Help your customers recognize you in their inboxes. Get a professional email address that matches your domain name so you don’t get sent to the spam folder.
    • You can perform a quick online search to find a reputable Email Service Provider to help with your email marketing needs.
  • Text/SMS
    • SMS marketing has grown in popularity over the years and there’s good reason for that. Gartner reports that “98% of SMS messages get opened” and Omnisend found that “SMS marketing’s conversion rate rose 102% in 2020.”
    • A quick online search can help you identify the perfect SMS marketing vendor to help you reach your customers.
  • Paid Advertising
    • Not all businesses have the budget for paid advertising, but if you do, you should consider leveraging it during the holiday season to get in front of the right audience. Paid advertising can be done on Google to appear higher in the search results, on social media, and various other online platforms.
    • Concert your efforts on the platforms where your audience spends their time.

Once you’ve decided on the channels you’ll use to communicate with your customers, think about when to start sending your messages. Too soon and you may be forgotten by the time the holiday rolls around. Too late and your message may get lost among many others. Plan to send a series of communications starting a week or two before the holiday occurs and culminating on the holiday itself to stay top of mind with your audience.

Holiday Marketing

The holidays are a joyous time, and we hope that your business is prepared to join in the festivities with this beginner’s guide to holiday marketing. As you create your plan and design your communications, keep the spirit of the season in mind. With a little creativity and some elbow grease, you can create the perfect offers to attract your audience and provide value all the while building relationships with your customers.

As you market your business this holiday season, keep track of what efforts are successful and which ones aren’t. You’ll want to have this information handy for the following holiday season so you can tweak and iterate your future marketing messages.  

Do you have any other holiday marketing ideas for businesses? Let us know in the comments below!

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Natalie Brownell
Natalie Brownell Marketing Manager. She believes in the power of words and loves a good story. She resides in MA and spends her days behind the keyboard with her two feline coworkers. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Natalie Brownell
Natalie Brownell Marketing Manager. She believes in the power of words and loves a good story. She resides in MA and spends her days behind the keyboard with her two feline coworkers. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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