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Help! I forgot to plan for holiday marketing! What now?

It’s common marketing knowledge that you should start your holiday season marketing planning as early as August. And if you need to bring in inventory to support it, you should have really started planning right after last year’s holiday season. And common knowledge here is correct – you absolutely should plan early.

But, as with many marketing best practices, starting really early isn’t always realistic for smaller businesses, especially those struggling with their marketing function. (Hey! Need help with that?) It’s pretty common to instead feel like the holiday season is an out of control freight train screaming down on you.

So, what can you do if you’ve gotten this far (early December) without doing, well, anything? Do you have any hope? 

Well, sure.

How to salvage your holiday marketing

1) It may not be too late!

Sure, some crazy-organized people start their Christmas shopping as early as September, but there’s a lot of us that wait until the very last minute. As long as you don’t rely on the already-burdened shipping companies to get products to customers, there’s no reason you can’t throw a last-minute-shopper’s sale right up to the, well, last minute. 

Unlike in the past, when you needed to get your media buys together months in advance, the great thing about digital marketing is you can slap up an ad tomorrow. Or send out an email series to your customer list today. And there’s no time like the present!

2) Celebrate the New Year

Unless your business gets a big chunk of its revenue from holiday gift sales, why not skip the holiday season altogether? Stay with me, here! The thing is, everyone is getting inundated with messaging right now. Inboxes are piling up, catalogs are flooding physical mailboxes, we’re all being followed around the internet with great gift ideas (!) and seasonal deals… basically there is a LOT of competition for attention. 

What about sending out a Happy New Year card to your clients instead of a holiday card? Or putting on a New Year’s Resolution sale? Your message will stand out a lot more in the quiet time after the holiday season  is over than it would in the midst of the fray.

3) Double down on the next holidays

OK, so you didn’t get things together in time for Hanukkah and Christmas gifters. That doesn’t mean you have to slink away with your tail between your legs. Start planning now for your marketing for the next set of holidays. 

Valentine’s day? Sure! Mardi Gras? I don’t know, why not? Mother’s day? Absolutely. Start thinking now about what offers you want to put together, what your messaging will be, and how you will advertise your huge Belly Laugh Day sale. You’ll be well ahead of the pack!

4) Try to relax about it

Our last piece of advice is a bit more metaphysical: try not to worry too much about whether you’re doing your marketing “right”. Sure, the holidays are a great time to generate sales for a lot of businesses, but it’s not the only way to do so. Depending on your industry, it might not even make any sense to pay attention to the holidays at all. Remember that people are super distracted right now, and really don’t need another voice shouting at them. Give yourself a break – you’ve done well to get through the year – and drink a little eggnog to celebrate your lack of holiday marketing. 

And hey, there’s always next year, right?

Happy holidays (and small business marketing),

Katie & Theron