Start Your Holiday Marketing Planning Today
From where I stand, 2015 was a watershed year for holiday sales.
Expected to increase by 3.7 percent, they officially surpassed the 10-year average. Online spending is expected to jump 11 percent from 2014. Ad impressions will increase by 50 percent, and clickthrough rates will rise by a full 100 percent. U.S. online holiday sales will surpass $95 billion this year.
To capitalize on this rich stream of potential revenue, you’ve been working tirelessly to budget, strategize, consolidate and roll out your holiday campaign. As you sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor, you may assume you don’t even have to think about the holiday season for another few months. I beg to differ.
A good brand is always looking a year or two down the road. Those willing to begin their planning for the 2016 season right now are going to be positioned for success come December.
It’s Never Too Early to Start Planning
I’m a firm believer that brands must be more than ready to connect with their customers during the holidays. Buyers have probably already looked at (and possibly picked out) what their holiday products will be. I’m willing to bet merchandisers have already done so, too. So why would it be any different for marketing?
In my time in the industry, I’ve seen and worked on numerous holiday campaigns. Some clients don’t want to bring us in until September, but that’s far too late — especially if you want to add something new to the conversation (and you do). Last-minute marketing won’t garner your brand the kind of loyalty that outlasts New Year’s Eve.
By planning now, you’ll be able to look at the competitive landscape with fresh eyes. You’ll be able to strategize rather than simply respond. What are the current trends and insights? What are they telling you about your 2015 campaign? What’s going to impact the country this year, and how are brands going to relate to that?
If you don’t take the opportunity to jump on these trends and use them to inform this year’s holiday strategy now, your competition surely will. Worse yet, if you don’t put everything in place early, you won’t be able to tell the kind of brand story that inspires consumers to latch on for life.
Hallmark Goes Digital: A Case Study on Holiday Marketing Strategy
One brand I’ve been watching this year is Hallmark, and from what I’ve seen, it’s ready to capitalize on emerging trends. For years, Hallmark has produced traditional TV ads that appeal to the sentimentality that runs deep during the holidays, but the brand is ready to go digital. Using a series of short videos, the “#KEEPSAKEIT Together” campaign takes a witty, candid approach to family holiday activities such as tree decorating. Here are two trends Hallmark had the foresight to tap into:
- Influencer Marketing: More and more consumers look to their peers to influence their purchasing decisions. Using influencer marketing, Hallmark has mom-daughter duo Angie and Mayhem constructing a paper holiday dress, Joy the Baker curating a list of holiday recipes, and the brand's artists discussing how they design ornaments. All of this content lives on the campaign’s microsite.
- Snapchat: In an attempt to engage millennial moms, Hallmark is sponsoring a geofilter on Snapchat. Users at Christmas tree displays in certain areas can apply a tree filter to their snaps. With more than 60 percent of 13- to 34-year-old smartphone users in the U.S. active on Snapchat, this is an insightful marketing move on Hallmark’s part. Not only is it able to reach a new audience, but it will also be able to stick to the family-friendly content it’s known for.
No matter how your company prepares for the holiday season, it’s paramount that you start early. Although the scores have yet to be tallied for how well Hallmark’s planning paid off last year, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s looking to this year’s strategy already. Now, get to work on yours!
Sarah Clark is the president of Mitchell, a public relations firm that creates real conversations between people, businesses and brands through strategic insights, customized conversations and consumer engagement.
Sarah Clark is the president of Mitchell, an award-winning public relations firm that creates real conversations between people, businesses, and brands through strategic insights, customized conversations, and consumer engagement. The agency is headquartered in Fayetteville, Ark., with offices in Chicago and New York City.
Mitchell is part of Dentsu Aegis Network, which is made up of nine global network brands and supported by its specialist/multimarket brands. Dentsu Aegis Network is Innovating the Way Brands Are Built for its clients through its best-in-class expertise and capabilities in media, digital, and creative communications services. Offering a distinctive and innovative range of products and services, Dentsu Aegis Network is headquartered in London and operates in 145 countries worldwide with over 30,000 dedicated specialists.
Clark is one of the top strategic communications professionals in the country, with more than 25 years of experience in corporate communications and an exceptional track record in protecting corporate reputations and redefining perceptions in key areas of business.