Ever heard the saying. “Prior planning prevents poor performance”? This is something my high school history teacher used to quote to us slackers every single class. Although it didn’t mean much to me at the time, it obviously made an impact as it has stayed with me for (mumble) years now.

This especially rings true when planning your 2015 holiday marketing campaign. But where to begin? Well, luckily you’re starting early enough that you’ll have plenty of time to hash out some great ideas, and implement them with absolute awesomeness!

To get you started, we’ve put together some priority items to check off your list.

Happy holiday marketing!

1. Stand out from your competitors, and embrace the holiday experience in-store.

Utilize personal shoppers during the holiday season; those customers that are in a rush, and want to do a one-stop shopping trip will need a little extra help.
Holiday shopping builds up an appetite, so serve Christmas cookies and hot chocolate to attract customers. You can also decorate! Nothing says Holiday Spirit more than putting up a Christmas tree, Christmas lights, and other festive decorations! And make every customer’s shopping experience extra special; slip a small gift into their purchase bag such as candy canes, or a Christmas ornament. Even after they leave, they’ll have that wonderful reminder about their experience with you.

“In 2014, 46% of customers supported small businesses, which totalled over $5.7 billion in sales.”


2. Keep your friends close, and your “frienemies” closer.

Partnering up with neighbouring businesses will drive twice the traffic. If you own a retail store beside a coffee shop, create a promotion so customers can receive a discount if they show your receipt at the coffee shop. In terms of promotions, contests, and special events, find out what your competitors are doing. Not only will this help you gage what your customers are interested in, but it’ll also give you a competitive edge.
Give away exciting daily prizes, or if they spend a certain amount on their purchase, they win a free bottle of wine. Even if wine’s not their thing, it doubles as the perfect gift to bring to the in-laws for Christmas dinner.
November 29 is Small Business Saturday… Mark it on your calendars! Small Business Saturday is a nationwide promotional campaign that encourages potential customers to support small, independent businesses like you. In 2014, 46% of customers supported small businesses, which totalled over $5.7 billion in sales.

3. The early bird gets the sale. Be amongst the 70% who plan for holiday marketing and advertising.


  • Canadian Thanksgiving (Oct 12) – Over the last few years, Canadian and American Thanksgivings has gained importance for online shopping dates for consumers and retailers.
  • American Thanksgiving (Nov 26)
  • Black Friday (Nov 27)
  • Small Business Saturday (Nov 28)
  • Cyber Monday (Nov 30)
  • Boxing Day (Dec 26)

From these key dates, work backwards to create marketing strategies with associated tasks in order to meet each deadline.
Once you close a sale with a customer, it’s especially important to delight them even after they’ve left your store: send them a Holiday Thank You card from your company. Adding these small personal, and unexpected touches will push your company to the top of your customer’s mind.

4. Start Cause Marketing – an easy way to give back to a local charity while supporting your community.

Ask yourself this: Is your company seeking local customers? If you answered yes, then think locally because local cause marketing is highly effective, and will produce desired results. Getting involved with a local charity this season will not only show your customers your soft spot, but will also give them a chance to get involved too! And don’t take the easy route by asking customers to donate at check-out, chances are they’ll say no. Instead choose a day where the purchase of a particular item, or a percentage of all profits are donated to that charity. This allows them to give while they still get what they want.
Utilize your bragging rights by posting pictures on Facebook, and Tweet about online promos and donation days. When you show your company volunteering in the community, it will associate brands with the local charity you support – it’s a win/win!

5. Stop counting pennies and start planning discounts!

Holiday season shopping is all about discounts and which companies have the best deals, so plan your promos accordingly. Compel your customers to purchase faster by offering exclusive discounts, and promote them using social media. These deals should be “limited-time only” to quickly close a sale, which will help finish their holiday shopping earlier. Remember, deals don’t just mean discounting prices! It can include free gift-wrapping, discounted or free shipping, or you can even match customer’s charity donations. Get creative and personalize them to fit the needs of your company and consumers.

“Did you know that last year, 65% of holiday shoppers used social media to find the perfect holiday gift for their friends and family?”


6. Take advantage of social media platforms.

Did you know that last year, 65% of holiday shoppers used social media to find the perfect holiday gift for their friends and family? So use social media to your advantage to build brand awareness, establish relationships with customers, and to attract new leads.
Everyone’s posting #ShamelessSelfie photos, so jump on the bandwagon and hold a selfie-campaign. Get your customers to take photos using your products, or while shopping in your store. Also, don’t forget to create a trending hashtag – these are a fun way to reach potential leads and for competitors to see what you’re doing. It also allows you to continue engaging with your customers, and therefore create a lasting experience.
A great way to really touch your customers this season is to share your employees’ past holiday memories and photos, traditions, seasonal recipes, and even those ugly Christmas sweaters we would never be caught dead in!

7. A successful holiday season doesn’t end after the holidays are over!

Boxing Day is no longer just a Canadian holiday – yes, Americans still have to work on December 26 but retailers are now competing with Canadian companies for post-Christmas sales. American’s holiday shopping day is Black Friday but now Americans also shop on Boxing Day and Canadians shop on Black Friday too. So get a head start on planning the sales for each day and promote them in advance.
In 2014, gift cards were the #1 gift that shoppers planned to buy, so offer a Buy-One-Get-One gift card promotion. For example, if the customer buys a $50 gift card then they receive a free $15 one!
Also keep your customers coming back in the New Year by planning for post-holiday success with a loyalty program. This encourages customers to initially join during the holiday season and continue to be a client in the New Year!

photo credit: katerha via photopin cc