Picture of watch with text overlay reading "When to start planning your holiday marketing campaign."

5 Reasons you needed to begin your holiday marketing planning yesterday.

It’s that time of year again. The holidays are nearly upon us, and e-commerce businesses should start planning for their big holiday marketing push before they miss their chance.

Or is it? I know what you’re thinking: It’s August. Surely the holidays are a long way off?! There are more pressing matters at hand! Can’t this wait?

brace yourself the holidays are coming

Unfortunately, it did wait. All through the long, lazy days of summer, when a rotating portion of the office was off on vacation and no one particularly wanted to think about the onset of winter anyway. And now fall is nearly upon us, which means back-to-school campaigns are in full gear, and if you aren’t already thinking about Halloween you’re almost out of time.

The biggest truth that marketers know that non-marketers are liable to forget is that our calendar has to anticipate everyone else’s. Our job is to be ready with the right product and the right closing offer right when our target customer needs it. And during the busy holiday season, it’s especially important to be on the ball. So if you’re on the fence about whether it’s already time to start thinking about your holiday marketing, here are our time 5 reasons why you should begin now.

1. You don’t want to fall behind the competition.

Planning for your holiday marketing campaign can feel like an arms race—all the more so when every year it seems like everyone else is jumping the gun by plugging their Christmas promotions before the Thanksgiving turkey has been cleared from the table. But there are good reasons to plan early. So many businesses don’t start thinking about their holiday marketing campaign until they see the first advertisements in the grocery store—and by then it’s nearly too late.

That said, you don’t need to launch your campaign before everyone else in order to stay in the race. Early planning isn’t about jumping the gun; it’s about having your content ready the moment the starting gun fires.

2. You don’t want to miss advertising opportunities.

Many print advertising spaces sell out their holiday openings months in advance of the season. Digital marketing doesn’t operate under the same constraints (thank goodness), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t fleeting opportunities that you brand will miss if they aren’t prepared. What about a chance to feature your product in a guest blog, or a chance to put the perfect placement ad on a key industry website.

There are many ways in which your current e-commerce marketing strategies should position your company to take full opportunity of future opportunities. October is too late in the year to begin building an email subscriber list for your holiday offers or creating the blog posts you need to rank for your top keywords.

3. Your project will take longer than you think.

So many things happen to delay marketing initiatives. First there’s the planning sessions to identify project budget and scope. Then your creative team needs to get to work, writing copy, designing landing pages, designing email workflows and follow-ups. All these steps require sign-offs and approvals, sometimes from multiple stakeholders. If anything drops the ball, it can quickly put your project behind.

Any good project manager knows to ground expectations in reality. If you’re overly optimistic about the time it will take you and your team to approve a marketing plan, you could miss having it completed in time for launch.

4. You won’t have time for marketing once your busy season hits.

Think about it: your business already has lots to do to prepare for the holiday season. Once orders start coming in, you’ll have your hands full shipping product and handling customer service calls. The only way you’ll have time for marketing is if something’s gone horribly wrong and your busy season isn’t busy enough.

Get your holiday marketing plans in order ahead of time, and you won’t be scrambling to approve creative while juggling all the other demands on your attention.

5. You don’t want a last-minute rush job during your most important push.

There’s nothing like the stress of the holiday season to create chaos out of your marketing. Everyone’s pressed for time, and asking anyone to refocus their priorities in order to accommodate your last-minute marketing request will only make things worse. Furthermore, rush jobs lead to mistakes and off-brand messaging. Don’t let a typo or an ill-considered campaign slogan sabotage your big sales season.

Instead, starting early gives you the opportunity to dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s. You’ll be able to spot any potential pitfalls in your strategy before they derail your sales goals.

Plan your holiday marketing for your e-commerce business early, focus on what’s important.

Being well-prepared for your big holiday marketing push gives you the freedom you need to focus on your business and your customers during the busiest time of the year. After all, most of your marketing plans are all about preparation. The strategy, planning, and creative all happen ahead of time. You can even schedule your social media, emails, and blog content months in advance so that they’re off your to-do list.

After your hard work goes live, it’s up to you and your sales team to focus on the business of handling orders and providing top-level customer service. Those are jobs that require your full attention, so why split your focus on tasks that could have been handled earlier?

Advance planning is the key to making the most of your holiday marketing opportunities. And if you need help keeping track of when the big deadlines are, don’t miss our 2017 holiday marketing calendar for e-commerce businesses. It will help you stay ahead so that you can deliver your customers the best service during the holiday season.

Published 08/29/17 by Laura Lynch