When it comes to the holidays, there are a lot of things to think about, especially when you’re responsible for marketing a business. (And, especially when you take into account the wild year and a half we’ve all experienced.)

For your holiday marketing, you have to develop a strategy, consider all the different factors that could make or break your holiday success, and then actually implement your strategy. But, when, exactly, should you start with your holiday marketing?

Based on the data, you should start your holiday marketing strategy for 2020 in early October at the latest.

It’s a question many business owners and marketers have, so we’ve suggested a few times (and ways!) to get started. Think of it as our gift to you.


When to start your holiday marketing planning

It feels like people start their holiday shopping, or at least their planning for the holidays, earlier and earlier every year. In fact, last year nearly 40% of those surveyed said they started their holiday shopping earlier than usual. And that’s poised to be the case again this year. Only this year, holiday shopping in the US is expected to surpass $1 trillion for the first time ever. Not million, not even billion, but trillion!

holiday shopping stat 2021

So if you want to take advantage of the busy holiday shopping season, you need to start your holiday marketing planning early. You may not have all the details ironed out when it comes to what’s happening with your business in November and December, but thinking about your holiday marketing all the way in July or August, can help inform what you’ll be focusing on in a few months.

If you haven’t started your planning yet — not to worry. You can still come up with a great strategy to reach shoppers this season.

Here are some ideas for getting started with your holiday marketing plan:

  • Start identifying any holiday offers or specials you’re going to run.
  • Outline who you want to target and when.
  • Identify some key messages you want to convey.
  • Think about the different marketing tactics you want to run to achieve your marketing goals.
  • Talk to your marketing partner about your plan to see how they can help you execute.

It may seem like a daunting task to start your planning this early, but your future self will be thanking you when the holidays come fast and furious just a few short months later.


When to warm up your holiday messages

My local Target started putting out Halloween decorations after July 4th. I was trying to purchase sunscreen and a cooler for some pool time surrounded by pumpkins and ghoulish decorations–it was a little unsettling. But once I saw the Halloween decorations, I started thinking ahead to Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. What will I cook? What’s on my Christmas wish list? How much money should I set aside for gifts? And now that fall has seemed to sneak up on all of us, it makes sense that they would start preparing so soon.

The holidays seem to come earlier and earlier every year, which means your holiday marketing should start earlier too.

What every big box store starts to look like in September (or much earlier!).

We found that 56% of people plan to complete their holiday shopping before December. So it’s safe to say that you could have started warming up your holiday messaging in August–or at least the beginning of September (AKA–now).

And you don’t have to go all out with the holiday cheer this early; you can focus on some of the other seasonal holidays, like Halloween, as you lead into the busy shopping season. This is also a great way to get in early with holiday shoppers–start running a few specials, introduce a customer loyalty program, or educate them on what you have to offer during the holidays.


When to go all-in on your holiday marketing

No matter what industry you’re in, once November hits, your holiday marketing strategy should be in full swing. The haunted houses are cleared, the Halloween candy is deeply discounted, and grocery stores are filled with cans of pumpkin and frozen turkeys. The holidays are pretty much here, so give it all you’ve got to capture those spenders.

when people start holiday shopping stat

And, remember, if you’re not a retailer, you don’t have to sit it out during the holidays. Unless you’re a seasonal business (and your busy seasons aren’t winter), consumers will still need your services, so think of ways you can keep your business top of mind throughout the holiday season.


Quick holiday marketing tips

Ready to start your holiday marketing? Here are three quick tips that will make your business stand out and help you get new customers throughout the holiday season.

1. Invest in a cross-channel holiday marketing campaign

An integrated marketing approach is your best bet to reach buyers no matter where they’re spending time this season–70% of shoppers report planning to research their holiday purchases online –compared to 60% in 2019. Make sure you’re there for them by investing in local PPC ads, ensuring your SEO is up to snuff, and running display ads to follow them throughout their online search.

When should you start your holiday marketing? We outline the data you need to know.

2. Capture in-store shoppers

This may come as a surprise, but in-store shopping isn’t canceled this season. Fifty-five percent of customers say they’ll research online but purchase in stores, according to our research. So, make it easy for them to get to your location with accurate local listings.

It's important to update your local listings with your holiday hours - by partnering with a marketing agency to manage your local listings, they can take care of that for you.

Make sure to set your holiday hours for your Google My Business listing

You might also consider investing in geofencing so you can market your business to shoppers directly in your area–or near your competitors.

3. Try something new

Lastly, think of some different (read: out-of-the-box) ways to reach your local customers this season. Holiday spenders are always looking for ideas and conducting research online around the holidays (remember, 70% will be doing so this year), so think of a way you could parlay that into a branded content series–this positions you as a thought leader and builds trust with your audience. Plus it can help you stand out from the other businesses vying for holiday dollars this season.

You can also run a holiday email marketing campaign to send your holiday promotions directly to your customers. (Check out these holiday email subject line ideas if you need some help!)


Start your 2021 holiday marketing today

Holiday marketing can be a gift when you plan for it, have the right strategy, and partner with the right marketing experts to make it a success. So take some time to create your holiday marketing plan, get started with some quick tips, and embrace the holiday spirit!

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