HOW-TO: Create a DIY Holiday Marketing Campaign for Retailers
As a marketing strategist, style editor, longtime blogger, and avid shopper, I have a lot of insights on what it takes to make sure the holiday season is successful and profitable for retailers.
I’ve written posts about how to get your products into magazines, when to start PR for the holidays, and how to create a shot list for a photo shoot based on my experience working with independent retailers for the past decade. From selecting products for magazine editorials to creating marketing campaigns for business associations (check out this gift guide from 2011), it’s always a thrill to help business owners grow!
I know money and time are tight for independent retailers, and helping entrepreneurs who work hard to make their dreams a reality has always been my motivation. Fellow Creators are my people, and I’m in a giving mood.
I’m sharing my process for planning & implementing a simple marketing campaign in just ONE day.
The process is broken down into five steps, including the amount of time you should spend on each step. Now buckle in and let’s get to work!
1. Find your Seasonal North Star (30 mins)
Your North Star is something you can build buzz around. It gives you focus, gives media an angle, and gives customers a sense of urgency.
It could be a trunk show, the launch of a new line or artist carried, an updated version of a popular item, or the launch of a look book, service, or cocktail.
It should be something you and your customers are excited about, and bonus points if it’s relevant to a current news item or cultural movement. Extra bonus if you collaborate with another complementary business—this expands the audience for everyone!
2. Create or source assets (2 hours)
A marketing campaign typically requires copy and graphics or photos. If you use copy from a previous event as a template, pre-existing images, and a design template (I recommend Canva), this part is a breeze.
You’ll need the following:
- Invitation copy. This can be as simple as “Join us for a trunk show on December 6th featuring award-winning jewelry designer Ines Martin. Ines’ pieces make beautiful gifts for the stylish women in your life, and she’ll be here to talk about how she switched careers from lawyer to jewelry design, her creative process, and which pieces her famous clients wore on the red carpet.” Then add the usual Who, What, When, Where info.
- A social media post graphic in square or 4:5 format. You can also use this as a digital flyer for e-newsletters.
- An Eventbrite header (this will be automatically ported and resized for Facebook events).
Tip: Assets can also include video, podcast interviews, blog posts, magazine articles related to your North Star (i.e. with the trunk show designer). A quick Google search typically reveals at least 4-5 media items you could potentially use.
3. Schedule an event to celebrate this North Star product or service (1.5 hours)
An event gets feet in the door and allows you to collect contact info from people interested in your product/service so you can keep in touch in the future.
People don’t necessarily like to be sold to, but they LOVE to be invited. Hosting an event to invite people to will also physically get them in the door—the better to shop, my dear.
- Choose a day and time that works for your customers and location. Would you benefit from Small Business Saturday traffic, or do your customers prefer to stop by after work? Check local events calendars to see what else is going on.
- If there are other people who need to be involved (i.e. if the designer needs to be present for a trunk show) and send them 2-3 possible dates before solidifying the event.
- Plan light food and drinks (check out MORTAR Food & Bev alumni), music (hit up the Cincinnati Music Accelerator), and a photographer/videographer (through Tether, of course) if it’s that type of party. BONUS: You can use the photos or video for future promotions and content.
- Create your event on Eventbrite (that gets more eyeballs on it) and port it to your business’ Facebook page. Facebook is great for events because it sends push notifications to people you’ve invited, and many people import FB events to their calendars. Invite people and share!
Tip: Encouraging people to RSVP via Eventbrite means you can send post-event communication and invite them to join your email list so you can keep in touch all year.
4. Do some light PR (2 hours)
PR makes it possible for people and organizations with a big audience to spread the word on your behalf.
- Create a fact sheet with a short blurb why your North Star product/service is the best thing since the Purple Rain red carpet, your event date + time, and boilerplate info for your business.
- Drop that document, along with the photos and/or graphic you created into a Google Drive folder and share the link with media.
- Focus on 10-15 outlets with strong online presence (you probably already know them because you read them) and local influencers in your industry. For example, I get a lot of info from fashion and accessory brands because that’s the space I’m in.
- It’s totally fine to pitch your North Star for an online gift guide or events listing, especially if you have good photos or a video—this makes it easy for journalists who need to feed the digital content beast, and you’re more likely to be featured.
Tip: If you’re an efficiency stickler like me, use a tool like Yet Another Mail Merge to send multiple personalized emails at once.
5. Promote on social media, calendar listings, and email. (3 hours)
Social/email promo and ads remind current fans you’re active and help likely fans find you.
Create at least 3 social media posts using your assets:
- (1) event announcement (ASAP)
- (1) reminder using a different image (one week pre-event)
- (1) we’re excited for the event! (day before)
- Continue to add info about what to expect at the event & why it’s exciting. Always include standard info (time, date, location) and how to RSVP (for free!)
- Share your posts and event on your Facebook page 2-4 times, depending on lead time before the event.
- Invite people to the Facebook event and encourage them to share.
- BONUS: DM the Instagram post and/or link to the Facebook event to followers who have liked a recent post.
- Re-share your Instagram posts to your Story—it only takes a few clicks and you can do this several times. You should also turn on the “automatically post from IG to FB Stories” feature to reach people who prefer one platform over the other. Video is a great asset as well; if you have new product coming in, customers love to see the unboxing or “putting out new stock” process.
Tip: It might be worth it to spend $30 to boost a post or event, especially if you need to build your mailing list or are less than two weeks from the event date.
- Send your e-newsletter 2-3 times. If you don’t have all the details at first, a save-the-date will do. Then send a reminder one week pre-event, and another two days pre-event.
Tip: people almost always wait until the last minute to RSVP, so don’t panic.
- Add your event to calendar listings. Your PR will go a long way to get you listed, but also try:
There, everything is set!
For the event, involve your team ASAP, re-confirm all vendors one week prior to the big day, and ensure you have enough product in stock.
All the important pieces are in place, so ride it out until the event day and have fun!
Need hands-on help?
This is a quick and dirty guide, but if any of this seems overwhelming or you feel like you could use hands-on guidance, I’m offering a limited number of Campaign-in-a-Day packages for local retailers.
It’s simple: for a flat fee of $400, we’ll spend a day creating a seasonal campaign that will make this your best Q4 yet! We’ll use this proven process to develop your campaign, clearly determine what to do, and get sh*t DONE.
That last step is important—a lot of people are happy to tell you what you should do; I’m here to help you actually DO IT. We’ll set up events on Eventbrite and Facebook, design graphics, schedule social media posts and e-newsletters, and notify relevant media so the whole world (OK, city) knows what you have to offer and the best way to buy it from you.