• Aubrey Tyson

Holiday Marketing During a Pandemic

Don't leave your holiday marketing plans until the last minute. Now, more than ever, it is essential to be ahead of the game when it comes to holiday shopping. 

It's no secret that holiday shopping season is the most lucrative time for small to mid-sized businesses. In 2019, holiday retail sales in the United States were estimated at 729.3 billion U.S. dollars. An apparent trend in holiday shopping involves consumers completing their holiday purchases between November 16th - December 15th. A less known trend is an average of 35% of American consumers begin holiday shopping before the end of October. 

Traditionally, national, regional, and even local businesses have relied heavily on foot traffic to boost their end of year sales. But, with the current pandemic economic climate, we cannot ignore the shift that consumers have made from purchasing in-person to taking advantage of online sales platforms like mobile ordering apps and mobile versions of retail websites. 

So, marketers and business owners alike find themselves in new territory when it comes to holiday marketing strategies. Questions have been raised like, "Should we shift all of our marketing money towards online?" or "Should we just wait and see what happens then push our marketing campaigns when it feels safe?". 

The answer to both of these questions, in my professional opinion, is no. Even though there is uncertainty in the world right now, you still have to think about the bottom line, you have to assess your business goals, and you have to keep an open mind to new strategies, especially during the holidays. 

Optimize for online

The one takeaway over the last seven months, from a marketing standpoint, is the importance of optimizing your business for online use. Although the coming months are still uncertain from a retail perspective, one must assume that the purchasing habits will remain primarily focused on online sales, even if a full return to operation is possible. For the first time this century, we may find the crowds during Black Friday significantly decrease and, instead, see an increase in online traffic. 

Reviewing your website to make sure it is mobile-friendly, especially if you run an eCommerce store, should be the first step you take when preparing for the holiday season. Is your site easy to navigate? Is the checkout process seamless? Is your mobile website or app ready to run special deals to encourage online shopping during peak holiday weekends? If you answer no to any one of these questions, now would be the perfect time to consider a website redesign that includes plans for a responsive and mobile-friendly website. 

Plan your content and campaigns in advance 

Planning ahead of time for the holidays seems like an obvious step, but with the chaos 2020 has thrown at us, it is understandable if you haven't even considered the holiday season yet. Don't worry, there's still plenty of time to get your planning done, and your content created. Getting your holiday campaigns done now allows you time to build themed content focused on the crucial days like Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the 12 Days before Christmas. 

Creating your campaigns ahead of time allows you to engage with consumers before, during, and after campaigns are rolled out. This can be done through email marketing and social media marketing campaigns that follow a staggered and automated schedule. Using automated posts platforms like Buffer or Loomly, will help you focus on interacting with consumers and spend less time worrying about what you should post next.  

Review last year's data 

Are you collecting data for your business? Do you track website clicks or social media statistics? Are you keeping track of online reviews? If you have a brick and mortar business, do you ask your customers how they found you? If you answered no to any of these, make plans to start today. Data analytics are essential for reviewing the success of your day-to-day business as well as how successful your marketing campaigns are. 

If you collected data from last year, dust off those reports and compare what you saw to industry trends and statistics. Use this information to build your strategies. See where your shortfalls were and make a plan on how to improve. If you had success during specific campaigns, determine how you can build off the creative work while creating a new look for 2020. 

Consistent marketing plans 

Consistent marketing planning is less of a tactic and more of a word of advice to use any time throughout the year. Your marketing plans should be consistent across the board. From traditional advertising like TV and Radio to digital advertising like social media ads and video marketing on YouTube, everything you do should have a consistent message that is clear and easy to understand.  

Consistent does not mean the same in this instance. While your overall brand message and story should remain on-point, they should not be identical across the board. The goal with consistent marketing plans is to bring brand awareness to your business. 

There has been an increase over the last few years in the way consumers shop and make purchases. While you will have a small percentage of "buy now" shoppers who purchase directly from an ad that catches their attention, most consumers shop by brand recognition. Brand recognition is accomplished by using integrated marketing strategies like placing TV ads, video ads on YouTube, and running a simultaneous campaign on Facebook and Instagram. The goal with integrated marketing and consistent marketing plans is to put your business across multiple channels, gaining exposure, and increasing interaction with consumers. 

Although holiday shopping may look different this year, the basics of creating meaningful marketing campaigns remains the same. Work towards optimizing your online presence for ease of use while keeping sales goals in mind. Through the use of data and marketing trend insights, you can plan and create marketing plans that remain true to your brand while focusing on how to integrate your campaigns to reach your ideal target audience. 

So, what now?

If you feel overwhelmed or discouraged by the list above, don't worry. There are plenty of professionals, like myself, who specialize in consulting. Marketing consultants offer a fresh perspective and a solid plan of attack for some of your biggest advertising woes.

Putting together your marketing plan doesn't have to be painful. If you're ready to get ahead of the holiday advertising game, contact me at any time. I will be your biggest champion and your support through these unpredictable times.