You can almost hear the bells ringing. Are those sleigh bells or cash registers? Hopefully, they’re both. For business owners across a wide range of industries, the holidays are undoubtedly a high point of the year. For seasonal businesses, they might be the months that make the whole business viable in the first place.

We can make them even more profitable with a great holiday promotion. However, too many stores rush into them, starting on promotions when the Christmas market is already in town and the snow is already falling. Planning ahead of time will help you tremendously, so here’s how you do it.

Don’t wait for the snow

We get it, some people really dislike seeing holiday promotions too early. It can feel a little cynical to start seeing holiday sales in the middle of July. However, you should already be thinking about your Christmas sales by the time that Pumpkin Spice everything starts hitting shelves in September. There will already be plenty of information on what the hottest holiday items and presents are going to be, and some people will be looking early.

You don’t have to pull the trigger on your holiday promotions just yet, but you should be thinking about what you’re going to promote, what deals you’re going to have, and any ways to spice up your campaign from last year. The more time you spend actively thinking about your promotions, the more likely you are to come up with something that’s genuinely creative and attention catching.

Pre-plan with an actual schedule

It’s not enough to start formulating general ideas of what your holiday promotion is going to look like, you should be creating an action plan as the season gets closer, too. When you’re 2-3 months out, you should be looking at a visual calendar. The holidays are all about hitting the message on the head and hitting it repeatedly, so your calendar should be populated with different events and campaign strategies that you’re ready to work on and launch in the middle of the holiday season.

Simply put, if you leave it until you’re already embroiled in the season and the hectic sales period that it can bring, you’re not going to have the brain power or space available to also come up with some excellent marketing ideas. The point of creating a visual calendar is that a) you can make sure your brand is never too quiet for any period of time and b) you’re not stressed and under heavy-time constraints while trying to come up with a campaign.

Know and hit all your touchpoints

It’s all too easy to be focused on your primary selling channels during the holiday season that you forget your other means of generating leads and conversions. Don’t forget that more people are looking at the market than ever during the holiday season, so every touchpoint you have with your customers becomes all the more valuable.

Start by sitting down ahead of time and by thinking about all your different touchpoints. This can include your physical store, your online store, any print marketing you do, PPC advertising, SEO, social media, email marketing, any apps you have and so on. Ensure that they all get a little more attention when you’re planning your holiday promotions. For physical materials, such as merch advertising, make sure that you’re designing and ordering them ahead of time to make sure that a late delivery doesn’t affect your plans too hard.

Automate what you can

Of course, when addressing touchpoints, we have to also address how much work it can be to create and distribute promotional material throughout all of them. If you have the biggest team, then it can feel like an impossible workload. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. Now, more than ever, there are tons of automating tools that can help you take care of marketing, promotions, and sales with much less effort. Start looking at automation tools in advance and which you will use to handle your promotions.

Monday.com can make it much easier for members across teams to collaborate and understand what they need to do and when, and to share materials with great ease so your team never keeps one another waiting too long. You can also track campaigns at a glance, so you spend much less time fussing about your plans and more time carrying them out. CoSchedule organizes and collates multiple marketing channels in one place, allowing you to much more easily carry out campaigns across all of your touch points without having to bounce from one to the other.

If you’re running a blog or content marketing site of any kind, don’t forget to start writing and scheduling posts ahead of time. Know when they launch so you can give them a final check-up and update as needs be, but you shouldn’t be spending too much time writing content during the holiday period. Lastly, Hootsuite’s an excellent tool for tracking social media, hitting up mentions and replies, and scheduling your tweets, too.

Have holiday designs ready ahead of time

Whether in your promotions, merch advertising, or seasonal products, you should be thinking about your holiday designs at least 2-3 months ahead of when your promotional period actually begins. Take a look at trending holiday designs, whether from market competitors or from marketing gurus online and think about incorporating them. Take a look at general design trends in your medium, too, and think about how you can give them a holiday twist.

This gives you a lot more time to make your designs unique, desirable and memorable. When you have those designs down, it’s much easier to adapt your branding style around them to make your visual identity pop and stand out from the usual, making it seem all the more “special” this time of year.

What are you waiting for? Start planning now!

Time is of the essence. The more time you have to nail down your designs, your campaign plan, and how you’re going to carry it out, the less stress you’ll have to deal with when it’s in full-strength. Make this holiday season your most profitable yet by giving it the time and forethought it deserves.

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