The Ultimate Guide to a Holiday Marketing Campaign

Doesn’t every year seem to go by faster and faster? Suddenly, you look at the calendar and summer is behind you and the month of December is breathing down your neck. The holidays can be stressful for everyone, but for businesses that time of year requires EVEN MORE time and planning. Well luckily, we’re here to give you the ultimate marketing guide to the holiday season:

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Here’s a friendly reminder - the holiday season is long (and seemingly getting longer every year). Therefore, you need to plan for not one post or email, but an entire campaign of different, but cohesive posts to constantly stay top-of-mind to your consumers during the busy and crowded holiday season. Remember, last year on Black Friday when you received approximately 2590385034 emails? This is a perfect example why you need to plan for much more than one email or social post.

It’s the Giving Season

Most brands have a natural fit for the giving season. This is the time of year to hone in on what you want your brand to be known for. It’s almost a given in this day and age for brands to have some tie-in to a charity, especially during the holiday season. However, it’s important that the charity chosen is an organic fit to the mission of your business. If you’re doing it “just for charity” your customers will realize and the buy-in will not be as beneficial to anyone involved. For example, if you’re in the restaurant industry it might be the perfect fit to form a partnership with a food back. Whereas, if you own a retail shop it could be the perfect tie-in to donate to a shelter that provides clothing to the less fortunate.

Back to the Basics  

The tides have turned and people LOVE getting mail again. Rather than being one of the hundreds of emails received on any given day, wouldn’t you love being one of the few things (not bill related) that an individual is getting in their mailbox? Although the amount of mail that is delivered during the holiday season does increase. If you create an amazing, on-brand holiday card it’s not only an additional way to ensure that your brand is top of mind but also a way to showcase your brand and wish your consumers a happy holiday season.

Where Your Campaign Should Live

Your business is firing on all different cylinders, so your holiday campaign should as well. Email, social, direct mail, digital, print, text, etc. Your holiday campaign should be carried out throughout these different mediums as well. Start by establishing what you want to accomplish (maybe this is a percentage off, a gift card promotion or a buy one, get one offer) and the look of the campaign and then bring that look to life so your consumers will see it over and over and be reminded of what you are trying to accomplish and what action you want them to take.

Including Movement  

Here’s a trick we’ve learned, people love gifs and animated social. It’s eye-catching and stands out among the millions of pictures and graphics that exist on timelines. Plus, it differentiates your creative. The holiday season is the perfect time to add some animation into your marketing strategy. If you don’t have the capabilities to bring your dreams to life, don’t worry – we do. Here’s one of our favorites:

TR Holiday Social.gif

Because People Love Presents, Right?

Who doesn’t love to get a present? The holiday season is the perfect time of year to give your clients, prospective clients, friends and family a branded gift that they’ll want to keep, use and hopefully carry with them wherever they go, and can we say free advertising? Sometimes it takes a little time to find the perfect gift to give from your company, but if you nail it – everyone will be talking about it and your brand.

Elysium Wine Gift.jpg

Don’t Forget to Wish Them a Happy Holiday

This seems like a no-brainer but boy oh boy you’d be surprised how many people miss out on this final step of a holiday campaign. People like to feel special and a simple “Happy Holiday” from your business is another element of making your customers feel like you truly care about them and value them – this can even be through something as simple as a video on social media featuring your team wishing everyone a happy holiday season!

We understand just how valuable a holiday campaign can be for a business, but we also understand how much work and time goes into making a holiday campaign a success. There’s still time (barely) to execute a kickass campaign and we’re here to help. Contact us today to get started on your holiday marketing strategy.

5 Direct Mail Necessities to Remember

1.     Make it Stand Out!

In the Tony Roni mailer we created and sent (pictured below), we have two very eye catching components: 1. The headline: We Like Big Crusts and We Can Not Lie. And now you have the song “I Like Big Butts and I Can Not Lie” in your head. Since the Tony Roni brand lends itself to it, we had some fun with the headline so people not only get a chuckle, but more importantly, remember the piece.

The other thing is that we decided to send an oversized postcard that is 9.5 X 13, which is significantly bigger than your average piece of paper. This way no one will miss it! Smaller postcards can get lost with the rest of the mail and thrown away without a second thought. This big honking postcard will get noticed, if nothing else. The other side of the postcard had compelling coupons so recipients could take an action based off of the card. 

Tony Roni Oversized Mailer

2.     Use a Code to Track it!

In the mailer (pictured below) for Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar, we used an affixed card with a code on it. Customers who redeemed the card would receive half off a second entrée. This card was collected by servers to track the outcome.  The code on the card can be used in the ordering system to track the meals that use the code. This part of the equation is crucial, so we know what the return on the mailer is. If we don’t have this, it would be difficult to know whether the campaign was successful, and whether we should keep using it in the marketing strategy.  

Harvest Mailer and Card

3.     Let Visuals Tell the Story!

Although the Eventions Productions piece we’re showing here was not used as direct mail, it still does a good job of showcasing that you don’t need a lot of copy to get your message across, especially if you have a very visual business. Since Eventions does high-end event lighting and sound, they can let their stunning work speak for itself, and use some supporting copy to drive home the message. Here you can see the inside of the tri-fold we created. 

Eventions Productions Sales Piece

4.     Have a time limit!

You might think keeping the code/coupon/card valid for a longer period of time would give you a better response, but the truth is that consumers get lazy, lose the card, and/or forget about it. An expiration date will give recipients the jump they need to use the deal now or lose it.


5.     Use a good printer!

This one may seem obvious, but there really is a difference when you’re selecting your direct mail partner. Make sure they are super knowledgeable about postage rates, how to properly print your creative, what paper works best, and what postage areas you’re mailing to. We’ve had amazing experience with companies (thank you FMI Direct) and we’ve had terrible experiences. Pick your partner wisely. 

Don't Discount Direct Mail: Oriental Trading Made My Day (and my son's par-tee)

Back when email was a novelty, each new ding of an email in my inbox used to be exciting. Will it be from a friend, a cousin, a professional contact I haven’t connected with in awhile? Or maybe an amazing % off at Bloomingdales, or at Golf Galaxy for my husband?

It’s funny how the times have shifted. Now because I get so many emails each day, I no longer get overly excited at the sound of a new email; there are just SO many. However, I do get extremely giddy when a piece of tangible mail that my mailman placed in my mailbox is exactly what I need.

A couple of days I ago, I picked up the mail: bill, catalogue, bill, dentist reminder, catalogue, bill… you get the picture. One catalogue stood out because it clearly stated “1st Birthday.” Below that title it showed a celebratory picture of a family enjoying cupcakes with two 1 year olds. The copy next to the picture read, “Bring their first festivities to life for less with bright birthday buys!”

As a marketer, I just smiled! Brilliant! It’s like they read my mind. Amongst all of the responsibilities I have, one that I hadn’t had the chance to act upon, but was definitely up there in importance was my son’s impending 1st birthday. I knew that making it special for him included party supplies, a theme, and of course balloons, but I hadn’t had a chance to investigate where or when I was going to purchase those items.

The fact that the Oriental Trading catalogue came to me at around the exact time I started thinking about planning the party could not have made it more convenient or valuable to me. I don’t know how they got my name or how they knew I have a 10 month old, but frankly I didn’t care what list they received that information from. It was perfect; I needed this stuff.

Some people think Direct Mail is a thing of the past, but it really isn’t. If you can get the correct message into the hands of the people who would benefit from that message, it will ultimately lead to sales. $150 later, I am a happy and satisfied customer because my son will have a cute party, and my husband gets to enjoy the theme that my child will clearly not remember (a Golf themed party for a one year old!?).

Although I was thrilled to see their catalogue, Oriental Trading would have benefitting from also doing the following:

o   Purchasing my email address as well as my home address so I received the message in multiple mediums. In case my husband beat me to the mailbox and decided we didn’t need the catalogue, or if I was so busy that I forgot we had it, it would have been beneficial to re-enforce the message multiple times that Oriental Trading was there to help me plan the party.

o   Including a percentage off or free shipping with no price limit. They do a nice job of including a promo code for free shipping if you purchase at least $39 worth of merchandise. Clearly they want people to use this promo code because it helps them determine if their marketing is giving them a return on their marketing investment. I’m an example of a nice return on their investment because the cost of the catalogue was definitely nowhere near $150.

 Free Shipping is a nice perk, and you might think it’s not necessary to give a percentage off (I purchased anyway), but if they really want first-time buyers to purchase from a new company, they should include free shipping without a minimum, or they should clearly state a percentage off on their back and front covers to help convert new consumers.

If Oriental Trading has a good CRM, I will anticipate a birthday catalogue for years to come each end of February, so I can continue to plan that (Golf?) themed birthday party for my son.