Thursday, September 29, 2011
We have officially hit Indian summer here in San Francisco and all I honestly want to do is soak up the sun with a beer in hand. So the shift to thinking about holiday marketing is a bit hard, but must be done.
What I want to inspire you to do today is to make a marketing plan for the holidays. Mapping everything out will help insure you don't get caught running out of product, will help you maximize all you marketing possibilities and take advantage of publicity opportunities. Consider each of the areas below in planning for the coming months.
If you have plans to offer any promotions or participate in trunk shows or fairs this season now is the time to stock up on inventory. You want plentiful looking displays to entice customers. You also don't want to run out of your best selling item just as your new retail account places an order. Take honest stock of what you have and what you'll need then place your materials orders now.
At the beginning of August I wrote a post on Lightbox SF blog saying that you were already behind the gun for getting holiday publicity and generally that's true. However with the shorter lead time of blogs, there's still plenty of outlets to contact in hopes of getting into a gift guide or two, but you need to jump on it. Look to your favorite blogs first, have they made a call for products or did they do a round up in the past? Make sure your press kit is up to date and send along any appropriate samples. October is certainly not too early to get things in the mail.
This is the one time of year that spending a little on advertising can really be worth it, especially for marketplace promotions or shopping guides. But do take the time to do the research, how big an audience do they reach, is it really your target market, do they have any testimonials from past advertisers? Look to local papers who might feature a local or handmade shopping guide. Blogs that do a lot of product reviews often offer special holiday advertising also. It never hurts to look into it. Planning now will also help you keep on budget and not miss out on great opportunities because the money wasn't in the bank.
Do you have enough business cards and/or postcards for the holiday fairs you're participating in? Do you have enough boxes, stickers, envelopes or whatever you use to package and ship orders? You might even think of doing something a little different for the season to stand out. Holiday packaging and gift wrapping are nice marketing touches that customers remember. It can be as simple as themed tissue paper or ribbon with your standard packaging. This is also the time to think about refreshing or upgrading your display. A new banner or Christmas lights can go a long way to getting people into your booth and picking up merchandise.
Communications and Announcements
Use your mailing list, blog, Twitter and Facebook to keep your loyal customers up to date on everything you're doing this season, events, promotions, and new products. Encourage early ordering by offering a discount, provide dates, times, and links for all the trunks shows and craft fairs you'll be selling at, and remind them of all the online and brick and mortar locations where they can purchase your stuff. Make it as easy as possible for your customers to buy.
Use Your Calendar
Get everything on one calendar. Fill out whatever sort of calendar works best for you (online, planner, drawing your own grid) with all your holiday events, deadlines and promotions. Work backwards from event dates to schedule all the prep you need to do, that includes posting to Twitter and Facebook, sending out invites, and creating inventory. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time for shipping delays, possible mix ups, and the general chaos that accompanies this time of year.
If all that seems like an overwhelming amount of planning, trust me when I say taking the time to make a plan now will save you from most of the last minute chaos that the holiday season seems to bring. Start with the big events, the stuff already set in stone and plan backwards. Look to what you did last year if possible and plan for all the details you wish you'd been able to take care of.
Jordan of Handmade Success also has this great free planner to help you map it all out. You just need to sign up for her newsletter.
Now get planning!
I encourage comments directly to this post, but also feel free to email me directly with questions, reactions, struggles, etc. genevieve [at] lightboxsf [dot] com
If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact Jen from Mama's Magic Studio about joining SFEtsy!