It’s the most wonderful time of the year?  Or it will be if you’re prepared.  That’s right it’s time to start planning for the upcoming holiday season.  It certainly is a busy time of the year as summer is winding down and the back-to-school rush is peaking (but isn’t over) and now the holiday season has arrived and it’s you need to get ready for it.

2015 holiday seasonWe all know there is a huge focus on Black Friday deals when it comes to retail.  Have you noticed all the summer black Friday deals taking place in July?  The ‘Black Friday’ concept has grown and evolved beyond the traditional day after Thanksgiving sale. Summer black Friday deals could become a regular event as well so pay attention and look to incorporate this into your marketing calendar next year.  For now, let’s focus on the upcoming holiday season and how you can be prepared to make it a wonderful time of the year.

Here is a list of things to keep in mind as you are planning for the 2015 holiday season:

1.       Marketing Calendar – It is very important to always keep updated and start adding in events for the upcoming holiday season.

2.       Website / Landing pages – Make sure your website is optimized for 1-2 clicks to navigate to the cart.  Plan for home page offers, special offers and be prepared to have holiday-themed landing pages to use as we progress to the end of the year.

3.       Email – Clean your list, add new customers to the list and create an email schedule.  Send holiday-themed HTML emails with coupon offers.

4.       Social Media – We all know this is important so you can reach more customers quickly.  Use multiple social media channels as most people are connected with more than one.  Send different types of offers than what you send via email and also post different offers on each social media site.  For example, send a percent discount to your Facebook users, a free shipping offer to your Twitter followers, etc.

5.       Shipping Offers – Many people who are purchasing physical products will look for a discounted or free shipping offer because it makes them feel better about their purchase.  Even if there is not a discount on the product price, customers who get a discount on shipping are likely to purchase online.  If you can offer this throughout the holiday season, you will win over many customers now and in the future.  Make it easy on them by offering it to them automatically in the cart or through a coupon code from an email or social media site.

6.       Pre-Black Friday / Cyber Monday Sales – Try offering some sales prior the two big days.  Don’t offer your best discounts but start providing offers to the early shoppers who are looking to purchase prior to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

7.       Black Friday / Cyber Monday – The big days are here!  Provide compelling percent off discounts, dollar amount off discounts and shipping discounts. Promote through all marketing channels; emails, social media, website, etc. Encourage your customers to share your offers to help spread the word.

8.       Post Black Friday / Cyber Monday Sales – The two big days are over but that doesn’t mean the offers, sales and opportunities are over.  Make sure you have planned for the time between now and the New Year for all the last minute shoppers.

9.       End of Year Flash Sale – Between Christmas and New Year’s, send out at least one flash sale that offers a very compelling discount (at least 25% off) but only for a short period of time (12 hour, 24 hour, 2 day sale) and make sure the length of the sale is obvious to your audience.

Now go get started!  Stay organized and focused with your marketing calendar and finish off the year with a strong holiday season and then focus on 2016!  Do you have any tips to prepare for the upcoming holiday season?  We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.