Christmas in October: Why You Should Start Planning for Holiday Promotions Now

Does it drive you crazy when you see holiday decorations up before the pumpkins are even carved or the turkeys roasted?  Many people fret because the holidays seem to come earlier and earlier every year.

But as a business owner, I completely understand what’s going on.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), many small and medium-sized retail businesses do between 20 and 40 percent of their annual sales in the last two months of the year.

That means that the smart small business owner is primed and ready to take advantage of the holiday buying season and is probably planning out her holiday promotional strategy while sipping her pumpkin spice latte.

In fact, the smart small business owner is already making her holiday plans — whether she’s excited about hearing Christmas music in the department stores yet or not.

Still think it’s too early to be planning your end of year promotions?  I’ve got three solid reasons why you should be working on your holiday promotions now.

If you’re already on the holiday promotion bandwagon, click here to download my list of 25 Ideas for Holiday Promotions to start planning right away!

1. Your customers are already shopping

Parties, vacation time, family visits, cooking, doing your own shopping — the holidays are hectic no matter what. If you want to take advantage of holiday shoppers, you’ve got to have a plan so that the holiday frenzy doesn’t overwhelm you. That’s why it’s vital to start now and figure out your plan so that you have time to implement it.

But here’s the thing: An NRF survey in 2008 found that 40 percent of shoppers start their holiday shopping before Halloween!  That means nearly half of your audience is already shopping and thinking about holiday gifts.


When you plan ahead, you can hit all the segments of your shopping audience, from the extreme early birds to the last-minute shoppers. Consider why certain shoppers shop when they do. The NRF says:

          “When asked why they begin shopping for the holiday season as early as September, most agree it      helps them spread out their spending (61.9%). Half choose to do so to avoid holiday crowds (51.7%), and another 51% say shopping early helps them avoid the stress of last-minute shopping.”

With this in mind, you can tailor your message and promotional events to the shoppers that are ready to see it!  For early birds, offer discounts or payment plans on your most expensive items. Offer free shipping in the middle for those who want to avoid the crowds. And then offer promotions on less expensive items for last-minute shoppers.

But you can only make these offers if you’ve planned ahead! (Watch this space for more tips and a guide to planning from me coming very soon!)

Also, if you can swing it, it’s a great time to invest in advertising wisely. According to advertising agency Group8A, your advertising dollars go much further during the holiday season: ad impressions get a 50 percent boost, click through rates double, direct traffic grows 150 percent, average order values rise 30 percent, and conversion rates increase 60 percent!

2. Promotions require resources

Creating beautiful promotional content — from website photos and blog posts to social media images and ads — takes time.  Now is the time to consider whether you need new or additional photos, if you need help with copy or design, and start creating!  

Work backwards from your promotional dates to plan everything out:

  1. Put the dates for your promotions on your calendar
  2. Think about how long it takes to complete each step of a task (write promotional emails, for example, or create a holiday graphic) or talk to your team to find out
  3. Pencil in each of these steps ahead of the promotion with the appropriate amount of time to create.
  4. Don’t forget to pencil in personal time — days off, events, anything that might disrupt your workflow.
  5. Use this calendar to create a working schedule for your team that includes due dates for all items you need for your promotions.

Also, it’s a great time to start testing your ads, once you have some content to test.  Run test ads to see which headlines and products convert the best, test your audiences, and so on. That way, when it’s time to run holiday ads, you’ll be confident that your ads will convert well.

3. Plan a promotional party

Just because you run an online business doesn’t mean you can’t throw a fantastic holiday party. Use some of the tips from our #PSL celebrity product post to craft an online event that will have all your followers and customers buzzing.

A key part of my four-part holiday promotion system (more about this coming soon) is building strong anticipation before the sale ever starts. The truth is, at this time of year, people are primed to want to BUY. Whether you offer a physical product or service, your customers have their wallets out and their credit cards warmed up.

But you have to be proactive to take advantage of that mindset.

The best way to start is by teasing tidbits about your upcoming promotion on social media, and in direct emails to your customer or prospect list.

The best time to start creating customer loyalty is before you need it — so this is the perfect time to start a brand-building campaign. Your campaign will do best soon, before all the holiday hoopla really sets in.

And because you’re starting early, you can afford to plan a coordinated social media campaign or event that will help keep your brand top-of-mind when shoppers start their holiday lists.

Start your planning now with my list of 25 Ideas for Holiday Promotions — come December 31st, you’ll be so glad you did!


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