Tis the Season to Be Savvy: 6 Ways to Optimize Brand Marketing

Guest Writer
Founder and CEO of Hawke Media
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every year, brands worldwide look for ways to ramp up their marketing efforts in preparation for the biggest shopping season of the year. With all the hustle and bustle the holidays bring, brands employ their best advertising tactics to grab consumer attention early and harness the ad opportunities available through various channels like the web and social media.

To help give your brand a head start this year, I want share a few of our agency's best tips. Here are six ways you can optimize your brand marketing for the holidays.

Related: What's in Store for Christmas? Depends Who You Ask.

1. Prioritize your mobile strategy.

This year consumers are making a list and checking it twice through their mobile device. It seems as though every year, for the past five years, has been hailed the year of mobile, and 2014 is no different. User adoption of mobile smartphones has skyrocketed in the last year and is expected to reach nearly 2 billion by the end of the year, according to research firm e-marketer. Not only are consumers using smartphones, but consumer adoption of tablets is also steadily increasing with many digitally savvy consumers owning both a smartphone and a tablet. Moreover, wearable tech is becoming a growing trend with smartwatches like Apple watch making its debut early next year. To leverage your brand this upcoming shopping season, you must prioritize your company’s mobile strategy and find ways to reach consumers wherever they are with targeted advertising campaigns that yield to the nuances of varying mobile technologies.

At the core, consumers want the best deals and convenience, and they want it now. These key things will serve as the guiding light for your strategy. Particularly, small businesses looking to compete with larger retailers should take advantage of mobile by offering coupons and special offers on items not widely accessible elsewhere.

2. Focus on real-time marketing.

Real-time marketing is all about being aware of current cultural trends and incorporating your brand into those conversations in a way that’s creative, timely, appealing and ultimately beneficial to consumers as well as your brand. The holidays are an ideal the time to fine-tune your real-time marketing plan as this time of year provides, as consumers are extremely attached to their devices constantly monitoring and sharing deals.

Related: 5 Ways to Dazzle and Delight Your Customers This Holiday Season

A helpful tip for real-time marketing is automation. It’s best to try to automate marketing as much as possible using automatic emails or queued advertising, so that you don't have to try to manage your entire campaign amidst the craziness.

3. Ramp up social-media efforts.

One of the most useful means for executing real-time marketing is social media. It’s also a great way to engage with consumers and get real-time feedback. It’s important for brands and marketing teams to understand that social media is a two-way communication tool and should not be used for dumping micro bits of information on your audience but rather actively engaging with them and responding to legitimate queries in a timely and constructive fashion. During the holidays, social-media users respond well to content that is relevant, smart and makes use of the holiday spirit without being over the top or disingenuous. Be sure to differentiate and show value.  Do not just tell people they should buy because it is the holidays -- that doesn't mean anything. Make sure you are very compelling and the holiday is just subtext.

4. Use influencer marketing.

A good to way to maintain a certain level of authenticity during the holidays is using influencer marketing. The old ways of word-of-mouth marketing are, in many ways, still the most effective strategy. Also, making use of social media and blogger influencers is a great way to resonate with audiences on various platforms.

For instance, Instagram is one of the fastest growing social networks and is a huge player in the influencer market. Search social media and blogs for key influencers that can operate as brand ambassadors during the holidays. Your stocking will be stuffed with nothing but happy customers.

5. Make e-commerce seamless.

Monetizing your marketing channels is arguably the most effective way to fully leverage your brand during this holiday season. At the end of the day, you want to drive consumers to make a purchase; therefore, you need to make the process as convenient and simple as possible. From PayPal to newer technologies like Apple Pay and even Bitcoin, there are so many ways to monetize social-media channels and mobile devices to make it simple for customers to make a purchase. Making these technologies available to consumers can make all the difference.

6. Plan ahead.

Now that you have some helpful tips on how to maximize your marketing strategy this holiday season, all that’s left to do is plan. You may think Christmas is so far away, but in case you haven’t noticed, the holidays start earlier and earlier each year. Stay ahead by having everything queued and ready to go by November 1 for the timed holiday campaigns.  You do not want to be last minute on this because it will produce your biggest numbers.  Also be sure to test everything long before the holidays. Try tag lines and see how things perform. DO NOT do anything new that could have a large negative impact. Now is not the time to test new channels or technologies. 

Related: What America's Retailers Are Spending on Social Media This Holiday Season (Infographic)

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