Is your marketing ready for the holiday season?  Its already time!  Shoppers will soon be out and about, and you want them to already know about your shop and its products.  Especially if you have specialty items for a particular holiday.  So you’ll want to get your marketing message out there early.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) reports that as an industry average 20% of revenue comes during the winter holiday months, and for some retailers that can be as high as 40%.

Why You Need to Get Ahead of the Game

Here’s a few more numbers from the NRF.  They just might surprise you.  Some 12% of shoppers get started before September, and another 6% start during September.  Another 20% get going during October.  That means that nearly 40% of your customers start their searching before Halloween!   Waiting until November to start your advertising campaign is a big mistake.  You’ll miss a significant portion of potential customers, and your marketing materials may well get lost in the crowd.

In 2012 Target launched its Christmas themed TV advertising in mid-October.  Surveys of customer perception show that it paid off — Target’s scores increased significantly, while Walmart’s actually fell.

Don’t Look Like the Grinch

So you need to be ahead, or at least on-pace with your competitors.  But you also need to be a bit careful, however.  People have been complaining for decades about the commercialization of Christmas.  In 2013 Kmart launched it’s holiday TV advertising campaign on September 9, some 6 weeks earlier than usual.  They received lots of consumer complaints, indicating that they created some ill-will.  There still may have been some benefit, however, as Kmart launched a YouTube campaign this year on September 3.

Some Suggestions

Few retailers can afford television advertising, and that’s usually not the most cost-effective way to reach prospective customers anyway.  Direct mail is time tested and often the most effective and least expensive on a per-customer basis.  You can target only those who live nearby and so are likely to visit your shop.  You can also filter a mailing list so that it only goes out to people who are at the right income levels and other demographics.  It’s even possible to track who actually makes a purchase and use that information to laser-focus future mailings.  It’s quite common to have direct-mail campaigns with 10 or more times the response rate of email campaigns and on-line advertising, so it’s still the best choice even in the 21st century.

Well-planned direct-mail campaigns are the perfect way to build a holiday sales funnel without looking like a greedy Grinch.  Your first mailing might not mention the holidays at all.  Besides starting to build up familiarity with your business (which can take some time and a few mailings anyway), with coupon tracking you can build a list of customers and refine your list filtering for a second super-effective holiday-themed mailing.

Today’s shoppers, especially those starting their shopping early, are looking to save money.  So be sure to include some sort of discount to incentivize them to pay you a visit.  A loyalty program offering further discounts or free items for repeat visits is the perfect way to encourage another visit for more holiday shopping.

DynamiCard plastic postcards mailers

DynamiCard plastic postcards with snap out promotional gift cards are perfect for early holiday advertising.  Their long shelf life will keep your campaign in motion from Thanksgiving until Christmas. Made of heavy plastic, much like a credit card or gift card, they get noticed.  Even in a pile of junk mail.  People are impressed by their quality and may actually be proud to use and share them.  Pop-off sections make them convenient and easy to carry around, and their durability means that they’ll last month after month after month.  You can mail early and be confident they will still be in people’s hands come holiday time.  A single postcard can include several pop-offs that recipients can share with friends and relatives, multiplying your benefits.