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If Starbucks can sell pumpkin spice lattes in August, we can talk about creating a holiday marketing campaign in September. After all, we do always encourage people to plan ahead! As we head into the not-so-usual 2020 holiday season, you should already be thinking about what your marketing might look like during this last quarter. Since most big-box stores won’t be holding their usual Black Friday plans, most customers are already expecting a highly digital shopping experience. But, how do you, a service-based small business owner, fit in? Well, with proper planning, you can promote your service/cause just as easy as any product or item. So, without further ado, here is how to create a marketing campaign just in time for the holidays.

First, are you campaign ready?

This might seem like a silly question to ask given the name of this post, but if you leap into creating a campaign without any strategy to guide you, your efforts could be wasted. I highly recommend you take a moment to read through this blog post to learn more about the difference between a marketing campaign and marketing strategy so you can move forward with the confidence of best-laid plans. Don’t feel like reading through that post? Here is the short of it:

  • To know that you’re campaign ready, you need to have already created and completed a marketing strategy. If you don’t have one of these, it’s not the end of the world. However, continuing to launch campaigns without a larger strategy guiding them is a great way to spend a lot of time and money and not see a lot of return.
  • In addition, you also need to know who on your team is going to be doing all the doing. This might seem obvious, but we know small businesses are often one-person shows. Creating and launching a marketing campaign can be a big undertaking, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need some help!

Next, create a goal

Any good campaign has a goal! When you sit down to create your goal, make sure your goal is SMART. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. This goal doesn’t need to be super complex or fancy-sounding. For example, your goal could be to “Increase website traffic by 25% between November and December 2020.”

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If you’re not sure what your goal is, we recommend you do a little brainstorming and some research. Sure, you want to make money or have your biggest holiday season yet, but what does that actually mean? When you think about the marketing tools at your disposal (ex: your website, social media, blog, newsletter, podcast, etc) think of how those tools directly relate to those increased sales. That can turn a goal that says “Increase profits by 100% this holiday season” to “Increase web-based donations by 50% between November and December 2020.” If you’re still stuck, send us a message and we can help you figure this out.

Then move onto some quick campaign objectives and strategies

With your goal ready to guide you, you have two items left to figure out. First, create your campaign objectives. Working with 3-5 specific objectives that are aligned with your campaign goal will begin to help you break down how to accomplish what you set out to achieve. An objective is also SMART, so make sure each one you jot down fulfills its SMART needs. To help wrap your mind around this, revisit your goal. If your holiday campaign goal is “Increase website traffic by 25% between November and December 2020” what are some more detailed tasks you would need to do to accomplish this? For example, you could say to grow your web traffic, you need to first grow awareness of your brand. So, one of your objectives could be “Increase website donations by 50%.” You might also say that to increase your website donations, you need to increase your website traffic, and subsequently, increase the ways that people can get to your website. Do you see how the objectives build into the goal? Your objectives shouldn’t be a specific to-do; just a slightly more specific objective that supports the efforts of your goal. With your 3-5, and really we don’t recommend any more than five, objectives, you’re ready to move on to setting goals.

Strategies, similar to objectives, work to support the overall goal. However, a strategy can be an actual “to-do” item as opposed to something that guides actions. Strategies feed into objectives just as objectives feed into your goal. A strategy might be something like “develop a social media campaign to increase the level of brand awareness through messaging around your services and offerings” or “refresh your website and marketing materials to reflect new holiday sales and changes.” Does that make sense? Good. Get to it.

With your goal, objectives, and strategies created, make a plan

I know what your thinking, have you not already gotten to the planning part yet? Well, no. You haven’t. But you’re here now! To create your media plan, you will explore your owned media outlets. Owned Media are the media outlets you “own.” This is usually things like all of your social media channels, your website, your blog, and if applicable, things like a podcast, newsletter, or forum. To create an owned media plan, you will address your larger strategies and extrapolate on them. Each strategy should ideally be listed with detailed tactics and a rationale. Think of the tactics as your “to-do” of each strategy. The rationale is basically just the reason why you should do something and the effect you are looking to create by working with that strategy.

For example:

Strategy

Refresh website to reflect new holiday sales and changes

Tactic

  • Update all website graphics to reflect the holiday theme
  • Develop a landing page for all holiday promo
  • Install newsletter plug-in for web page pop up

Rational

Consumers have very high expectations of how a website functions. An updated website with a pleasant user experience allows for a seamless sales funnel from browsing to buying.

Take Action

Now that you have a strategy and a media plan, create a timeline, and hit “Launch!” The holidays are fast approaching, so make sure your timeline takes into account all of the things you need to have ready in time for your launch. You’ve already done all the hard work of preparing a proper marketing plan, don’t throw it all away by skimping out on that timeline. The holidays come and go very quickly, if you need a little help completing any of those strategies, feel free to reach out to us for support.

Lizzie Carroll
By Lizzie Carroll