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4 Ways to Prepare Your Marketing for the Upcoming Holiday Season

Get your business and promotion schedule prepped for the busiest shopping season of the year.

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Depending on the products and services you sell, you're likely already thinking of ways to maximize your business for this coming holiday shopping season.

But even if you don't sell traditionally "giftable" items (think web hosting or cybersecurity packages), you still might want to tap into the trend of increased spending. Many consumers are already in the spending mood, so why not capitalize on that?

While you're getting together your strategy for business operations, remember that you'll still need to get the word out there. Coming off a decent 2016 where holiday consumer spending went up, retailers and other businesses will be preparing some major marketing pushes this year. Now you just need to figure out how you'll stand out above the crowd.

Staffing, inventory and cash flow are all going to be important this coming season. For marketing, keep these things in mind.

1. Think more value, not more discounts.

When people think of holiday shopping, they think of discounts. Because of that, almost everyone is offering discounts. To differentiate yourself, you don't need deeper discounts, just a better story.

There's a growing class of consumers who appreciate a connection with a brand, as they seek more authenticity in the brands they associate with. The best way to do that is to integrate storytelling into your campaigns. The now-famous "WestJet Christmas Miracle" campaign is a great example of how one brand became viral and earned a tremendous amount of online exposure.

2. Prepare an advertising budget, and stick to it.

One of the complaints from many retailers is that while sales increased during the holiday shopping season, overall profit didn't. So much money was used up in marketing and operations that they ate into the profits.

Take the time to lay out all your upcoming expenses and generate a sales forecast -- it might help to loop in your bookkeeper or accountant too. Decide from there just how much you're willing to dedicate to ad spend.

3. Identify the appropriate channels to distribute your message.

Advertising is no longer as simple as printing an ad in the local paper and maybe buying a local TV spot. Today, there are a myriad of ways to get your promotions out there.

What you utilize depends on many factors, including your budget, the timing, and especially where your intended audience might be. Should you focus on remarketing to your current email list of customers, or do you need to create a Facebook Ads campaign targeted towards new, young couples? Would a direct mail piece in your neighborhood be more fruitful than a Snapchat filter?

Check out this article for a list of possible marketing channels to consider this holiday season.

4. Produce all marketing materials now.

Once you've decided on a budget and the different channels you'll utilize in your strategy, you'll want to get all your assets designed as soon as possible.

Once the season starts, the last thing you'll want to think about is getting graphics designed last-minute for your promotions. Many design freelancers will likely be busy themselves, as well as your own staff. In some cases, you may be met with an expedited service fee, an unwelcome expense in your ledger.

Identify the channels you're using, prepare your graphics and copy, and file them away for easy access when the time comes.

Being prepared when starting a new marketing campaign is important no matter what time of the year it is. But preparedness is especially important as the craziness of the holiday season sets in. This time of year is often fraught with many additional activities that require extra time and effort in both your business and your personal life. Take the time to plan now so that you don't lose sight of what's truly important to you later.

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