For marketers, the holiday season truly can be “the most wonderful time of the year“. However, without a sound strategy, the holiday can offer as little to businesses as it does to sandal-makers. And considering the very specific nature of the holidays, a little knowledge can go a long way.

So what is it that makes the holidays tick? How can you as a marketer successfully market your product to consumers? Before even putting pen to paper, know that your strategy, your goals, your channels for engagement, and your tone will ultimately determine your potential for success.


1. Know Your Goal

At the risk of traipsing into philosophical territory, what is your reason for the season? Before doling out cash for advertising and social media resources, consider what it is your businesses would like to achieve during the holiday season. Is increased sales your top priority? Is customer engagement the focus? Do you simply wish to associate your brand image with the good-will and holiday cheer of the winter months? In any instance, know what your goal is and stick to it.

Base your goals around what would most benefit your organization. If your company delves into consumer goods, figure out how you can make lives easier during the busy and often hassle-filled holiday season. Financial planning? Engage your customers by associating your company with financial prudence and peace of mind in what are frequently fiscally tumultuous times. Tailor your content around the needs of your customers for the holidays and make your mark in the process.


2. Focus Your Efforts

The holidays present myriad opportunities for marketing themes and targeted campaigns. Aside from the occurrence of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years, the commercial “holidays” of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday transpire through the season as well. Each instance presents its own distinct themes and opportunities for ambitious businesses, but losing focus can be a detriment.

Avoid spreading your resources and your image too thin. Focus on one event and tailor your efforts to it. Consider what characteristics your organization wishes to espouse and build association with the event that most clearly promotes them. Consider the circumstances of the event, be they travel, family gatherings, shopping, or general celebration and tap into those when building your campaign.


3. Harness the Internet

Even for small businesses, the Internet presents a powerful channel for customer engagement and dispersal of marketing materials, especially at a time when large swaths of the population are traveling. Social media’s ubiquity presents a chance to market to customers checking in with friends or browsing family photos. Email and advertising provide the opportunity to offer holiday-themed deals for budget conscious shoppers.

Build your media strategy around the unique circumstances of the season. Craft content for social networking including photos that are not only easily digested by busy consumers, but can quickly build a brand association that will drive sales during a commercial watershed. Email coupons to those on your mailing list and offer online deals for last-minute shoppers. In all things, consider the circumstances of the holidays and figure out how to best engage busy, mobile, and enthusiastic consumers.


4. Deck The Halls

With the visual and social identity of most holidays well established, your job as a marketer is to tie your company in with those virtues. Engage customers on this basis by including holiday themed content that promotes sharing, like eCards or photos of cozy settings. Focus on permeating the market by highlighting how your customers identify with and benefit from your products around this specific time of year.

Even commercial holidays can receive the same thematic treatment. Do you run a small business? Tap into the spirit of entrepreneurship for Small Business Saturday. An online retailer? Highlight the convenience and wide selection of your shop by tailoring your content and offers toward Cyber Monday. Each holiday event presents an opportunity to effectively market to the good-will and frugality of festive shoppers.


5. Be Delightful

Regardless of the specific religious observation (or lack thereof) of holiday consumers, the winter season is about cheer. Families travel for joyful gatherings, happiness is a pervasive theme in all endeavors, and warmth and cheer seek to shut the door on cold winds and hazardous drives. Knowing that this sentiment represents the cultural milieu of consumers can make hay in the snowy months.

Consider how your campaign inspires these same feelings. Focus on the happiness of the season and delight customers with a helping hand by any means necessary. Offer deep discounts, concierge services, loyalty bonuses, and customized thank-yous for holiday shoppers and spread some cheer of your own. Give generously of your holiday spirit, and be assured that that generosity will improve your image, your brand, and your sales.

With a little knowledge, the holiday season presents a real opportunity for success. Consider what your company’s priorities are during the holidays and focus your efforts around the event that best espouses the virtues of your brand. Capitalize on the ubiquity and affordability of the Internet and theme your materials and your message around your event of choice. But above all else, be delightful and tap into the cheerful nature of the winter season. With a little care and attention, you too can have a very happy holidays indeed.