If Your Holiday Campaign Failed, Start Working on Next Year Right Now Holiday shopping is an annual event but marketers need to plan for it throughout the year.
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Every year, a few weeks before Thanksgiving, I'm asked for my top tips on holiday marketing. I always have the same answer: Thanksgiving is long past time to start thinking about your social, mobile and digital holiday campaigns.
Holiday marketing may seem like a no-brainer since the pre-holiday consumption cycle is a yearly event, but you have failed if you wait until the last minute to begin convincing customers to give your business attention during their holiday shopping. The relationship with your audience has to be built continuously throughout the year so that you're on your customers' minds well before they start creating holiday shopping lists.
If you consider your holiday campaign as separate from your "regular" digital and sales campaign, then you have failed as a marketer. The practice of running separate campaigns without developing a long-term social, mobile and digital marketing campaign strategy is counterproductive to building a strong, genuine relationship with your customer and a strong brand presence overall.
If you're only thinking cyclically, then you are also falling into the trap of not thinking about the next generation of marketing capabilities available to you. Brands run the risk of being perceived as opportunistic and not authentic. Frankly, if you're just starting to shake hands now, that is going to feel like a fairly untrustworthy and short-term perspective to your audience.
Don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying that you shouldn't have launched strong, holiday-inspired campaigns during the holiday season, only that those campaigns should be part of an overall social, mobile and digital marketing process. The holiday messaging should be viewed as a natural continuation of the conversations you are already having with your audience.
Here are some tips for how to make it better for next year:
1. Don't think of mobile strategy as an afterthought. It must be part of your marketing program from the beginning.
2. Connect the offline with the online; e.g., the in-store experience should sync with online (coupons, ads, etc.). It is vital to capture who is purchasing in store and online and what their interests are—and then learn to reach them at all touch points.
3. Remember one word: persistence. Your brand's marketing should be one fluid motion, without stops and starts because of the holiday. Adjust it in real time. Don't just put it out there and wait until the end to monitor it and decide in hindsight that it needed some tweaking.
Luckily for your marketing team, social, mobile and digital marketing tools are more affordable and powerful than ever. The hardest part of running campaigns is figuring out where to begin. However, if you just started evaluating marketing tools in October for the holidays, you already lost campaigning momentum.
Refocus on creating a continuous strategy that allows your brand to seamlessly guide the conversation from daily brand considerations to holiday and seasonal shopping. Your New Year's campaign resolution should be to start now to create continual, persistent relationships for your brand.