‘Tis the season … to think about the holidays! Smart marketers start preparing now, so they’ll be positioned to take maximum advantage of the biggest profit-making time of the year.


Stay top of mind with your customers. You want your business to be a familiar face among the multitude that will be competing for customers’ attention in the 4th quarter. How do you build that valuable recognition? With regular mailings all year round, even if it’s a simple “thank you for your business.” (Our cost-effective postcards are perfect for that.)


Integrate your direct mail with social media. This is another excellent way to stay top of mind with customers. Obviously, most of them aren’t holiday shopping in July, but getting into their news feed now means that when the holidays roll around they’ll already be comfortable with receiving messages from you. Include your social media addresses and hashtags in your mailpieces (if you don’t already); maybe offer an incentive for customers to visit, like, share, comment, etc.


Test your creative. You’ll spend the majority of your annual marketing budget during the holidays. Don’t risk it on new designs and messaging that haven’t been proven to perform well. The time to test is now, with a smaller spend and less at stake. (Check out this article on split testing.) Once the winning formats are determined, it’s easy to sub in holiday images and keywords.


Develop your campaign strategy. Before the holiday frenzy ramps up, have your media allocations in place … and vow to stick to them. Analyze what performed well last Q4 and what’s working right now. With this knowledge supporting your strategy, you’ll be less likely to make unplanned buys in reaction to market events or competitor activity.


Plan your promotions. People expect to get discounts during the holidays. It can be tough for small businesses to compete with national chains on the basis of price, but you may be able to offer things the big boys can’t. Start testing a few different ideas now, so you’ll know which will get the best response in November and December. Some promotions that have worked for small businesses:


• Unique and/or customized products and services

• Referral bonus (i.e. bring in a friend, get 50% off)

• Targeting niche markets

• Loss leader

• Gift with purchase

• Frequent shopper program


The holidays can make or break your entire year. Start laying the foundations now, and you’ll be ready to have a very merry season.