Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Hogmanay, etc. Regardless of which holidays you personally celebrate, you know that business doesn’t get any bigger than in the fourth quarter of the year.

And a good Q4 will do more to boost your end-of-year profits. It should set you up for a bumper year in 2014.

However, be warned: Q4 can also be a costly time to do business.

As the holiday season heats up (or should I say gets a little colder with the onset of winter), your marketing budgets are likely to be on the increase. The competitive spirit of the holidays means that your acquisition marketing (paid search, newspaper or magazine, radio, TV advertising) will be going through the roof to ensure you remain visible and maximize your opportunities.

Your warehousing, fulfillment and customer services costs are also likely to be on the rise as you stretch yourself to the limit to get product out the door.

In fact, the cost of doing business in Q4 can severely damage your bottom line – and nobody wants to end the holiday season with the realization that they have been a busy fool.

Fact: Being left with too much stock is not a healthy option following the holidays. In a competitive market you might be forced to sell at a lower cost than you anticipated.

Fact: If your marketing costs go up and your margins are squeezed by competition and other costs of sale, turnover might not deliver the kind of profits you are looking for.

Fact: Email will help you drive repeat business and, even if margins are cut to the bone during the holiday period, will help you drive profits in the New Year.

Email marketing is of course the perfect solution to ensure your Q4 marketing investment delivers a positive return and helps keep the festive embers glowing well into the New Year and beyond. The secret is to ensure you have all the tools in place to be able to collect, segment and strategically market to all your new customers collected in the run-up to, during and after the peak holiday season.

If you have not yet developed a strategic email marketing plan, be warned – time is ticking and every lost day is another lost opportunity.

A great place to start is the iContact Email Marketing Starter Kit, which aims to get you up and running with an email strategy within the next 30 days. Download today and you could be up and running for Halloween.

So what are you waiting for? Christmas? It’ll be here before you know it.

This post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.

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