Not getting the holiday sales you thought you would this month? It might be due to the holiday spirit, or rather, its lack thereof from your marketing plan.

Think about it: If your competitors are busy piping the scent of holly berries throughout their stores, building life-size gingerbread houses, and giving away free eggnog and fresh-baked snickerdoodles with every purchase, who do you think is going to get the sales? Okay, that may have been a slight dramatization, but you get the idea.

You may have waited a wee bit longer than you should have to get jolly with it this year, but it’s still not too late. We’re more than willing to put a big dose of holiday spirit all up in your marketing plan… and we’re doing it without a minute to spare!

Ready to get started? Check out our procrastinators’ guide to holiday marketing below:

Step 1: Define your festive deal

Every good holiday marketing plan needs a great deal. Why? Because this is the time of year when everyone is looking for big savings and pretty much everyone is giving it to them. Except you. But not anymore! According to an infographic by Paragon Digital Marketing, the top four deals holiday shoppers want the most are:

  1. Free Shipping
  2. Percentage Off
  3. Buy One, Get One Free
  4. No Hassle Returns

This list – by no means – is the end-all of what you can do with holiday marketing. Depending on how much time you have (and we’re close to running out here, people), you can offer to donate X amount to the charity of your choice with each purchase, hold a holiday canned food or clothing drive (and offer a percentage off for those who donate), and/or offer a free $5 or $10 gift card when shoppers spend a certain amount online or in your store. Select from any number of the deals, incentives, and promotions from the choices above and let’s move on to step two.

Step 2: Add in Some Seasonal Social Sass

Do you have access to a graphic designer or have any Photoshop skills yourself? If so, deck out your social media accounts by adding a festive cover photo or profile picture. Be sure to keep your company’s branding consistent – just add a seasonal background or winter theme to give it some quick festive flair. Can’t get a new cover photo designed fast enough? No problem. You can use seasonal images to go along with your social media posts. (Try iStock and Flickr Creative Commons for images.) Use all of your social media accounts to promote your holiday deals and if you have a blog, don’t forget to utilize that outlet, too! Remember, seasonal sass sets you apart from all the other procrastinators who are doing nothing festive with their marketing whatsoever… which was probably you just a few minutes ago.

Step 3: Make Your Email Marketing Merry and Bright

‘Tis the season to send seasonal emails to your clients – and actually get their attention! An infographic by HubSpot says 96% of those who used email marketing in 2011 holiday marketing reported their campaigns were successful, with 54% reporting extremely or very successful campaigns. That means more than half of all marketers had great success with holiday email marketing. Pretty good odds if you ask us! When sending out email blasts announcing your holiday sales, be sure you use an attention-grabbing email subject line. For example:

  • Killer Holiday Sale – Details Inside
  • Santa Has Spoken: 30% Off!
  • Hurry, BOGO Ends 12/24!
  • Last Minute Savings on Gifts
  • Unwrap Extra Savings (2 Days Only!)
  • Joy to the World: Free Shipping + 15% Off
  • Stuff Your Stocking with Savings!

Reap the Rewards of the Season

Paragon Digital Marketing says that holiday sales for 2012 are projected to hit a jaw-dropping 586 billion. Don’t you want even a tiny slice of that huge holiday pie of profit? Of course you do! So start doing what you can right now to ensure you get it. Remember, offering a great holiday deal, as well as promoting it via social media and email marketing, will help you end this year with a bang – and if you’re really lucky, possibly in more ways than one!

Tell us: What’s your best last minute holiday marketing tip?