It’s February 2012. Have You Started Planning Your Christmas Marketing Campaign Yet?

Prepare Early For The Holiday Shopping Season

Seeing as people shop as early as 6 months before Christmas, it would not be such a bad idea to start planning your holiday shopping promotions a little bit earlier than usual.

Let’s just concentrate on the holiday shopping season proper this time around. To make it easier, let’s set the cut-off date where we need to complete all our preparations at October 31st, 2012.  Now, let’s work backwards from there.

The purpose of a campaign such as this is to sell as many items as possible at a price which shoppers find hard to say no to. But at the same time, it should not be so low such that you end up making a loss.

Here is a basic checklist that you need to go through when planning your year-end promotion:

You need to do some research on what products will be hot and available come the biggest shopping season of the year. This means you will need to work closely with your suppliers to find out what’s hot and what’s not.

When a product becomes hot, it is largely due to the promotional efforts of the manufacturer or the main distributor of the product. Timing is crucial. Publicizing a product too soon or too far away from its actual availability might create a cool-down period and negate the hype that has been created. This is especially true for high-end tech products like smartphones.

Hot products are not the only products that you can put on sale. You can also use this opportunity to avoid or get rid of dead inventory. You can offer such products as a standalone items at really low prices or bundle them together with other products. Remember to market them as super value-for-money buys and not stuff you just want to get off your shelves.

When to start this process: NOW!

Once you know what you will be selling, you need to start on your keyword research for those products. Naturally, if no one knows about those products, there will be no search traffic yet. What you can do is research keywords for the categories those products will be in. For example, if the product is a particular type of snowboarding helmet, then try to target snowboarding related keywords for starters.

Then, 1-2 months before the manufacturer or main distributor gets the ball rolling in terms of publicity for the products, start working on the SEO for those product pages. It very easy to get those pages ranked at this point because competition would be very low. So this is your chance to get a head start.

For keywords, make smart guesses. Use the actual product name as a keyword or as part of a keyword phrase. To get a better idea of how to fit in product names into keyword phrases, look at existing search phrases for similar products. You can add more keywords later on once there is search traffic for the product.

When to start this process: Preferably, by June 2012.

Remember the deal about dead inventory I mentioned earlier? Well, one of the key methods to ensuring you are successful in selling those is having well designed CTA (call-to-action) images. Copy and image must work together in convincing the shopper that the product is a steal at that price.

Of course, do not fill the whole page with CTA images and text. That will just confuse customers. Prioritize your CTA images and text. Use size, color and placement to differentiate CTA images and text. The main CTA image should be bigger than the rest, utilize bolder – but not garish – colors, and be positioned at the focal point of the page. The main CTA image should plug the product you want to sell the most.

Do not hard sell every product image on the page. Some product images will do just fine with the phrase ‘Just Arrived’ or ‘Limited Units Available’.

When to start this process: September 2012.

Email And Social Marketing
Email marketing can give you a head start to your campaign. Give subscribers sneak peak previews and additional discounts on certain items so that they feel privileged to be a subscriber. A strong subscriber base is key to follow-up sales especially during off seasons.

Create teasers of your upcoming promotions on video sharing, micro blogging and social networking site like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook . Make sure you tag all your content with the appropriate keywords so that they can be found easily within those sites’ search facilities.

When to start this process: October 1, 2012.

Christmas may be quite a while away, but it’s never too early to start planning and preparing your store for the holiday season. We hope these tips will give you some ideas and help you get started.

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