Halloween is over, which means that the holiday shopping season has officially begun. In fact, one in ten American shoppers begin their holiday shopping even before Halloween.
Major retail chains such as Walmart, Sears and Target have already begun promoting holiday sales, earlier than in years past - nearly a month prior to Black Friday, which has traditionally marked the beginning of holiday shopping season. In addition to projections that Black Friday sales will be the highest in history this year, Hanukah falls early and will coincide with the Thanksgiving holiday.
According to the ABC 7 news website, Target's online store and website is already encouraging shoppers to sign up for emails about Black Friday deals and Sears has added a prominent button on their website instructing shoppers on how to make sure they receive gifts by Christmas eve.
Christmas Eve? Talk about planning ahead.
While it may be too early to start advertising your holiday season sales, it is time to start planning. The holiday season provides the perfect opportunity to start an integrated marketing campaign to boost sales and drive awareness of your Practice while the consumer is tapped into seeking out seasonal deals and holiday messages. Again, an integrated marketing campaign is the most effective form of marketing because you send a consistent message across multiple communication channels, reaching a larger audience. Consumers feel more secure and are more apt to pay attention when a message is repeated cross-platform and you cast a larger net and get more exposure in the process.
Whether you are planning a blow-out clearance sale, a buy one get one half off promotion or a holiday charity party or trunk show, integrated marketing is the way to go to get the highest response from your marketing efforts.
Here are some steps to start preparing now for your integrated seasonal campaign:
1) Develop a Promotion
End of the year clearance sales or trunk shows may seem like the obvious choice, but you don’t need to sell eyewear to get in on the holiday spirit. A charity promotion (raising money for eyeglass donations, collecting old pairs to donate or raising a donation/ gift package to give to local families in need), or a service promotion (give the gift of sight, gift certificates for an eye exam, etc.) can also have a big impact on foot traffic and create a buzz for your Practice.
2) The Campaign Graphic
To really create a branded campaign you want to first come up with a tag line and graphic that can be used across all of the various channels you will be using whether it is posters, a website landing page, social media or an email mailing. Unless you are quite design savvy, you will probably need to hire a designer to create this for you. While a graphic is not essential it does maintain the consistency of the campaign and create brand recognition which will increase the consumer response.
Here are a couple of examples of posters we have created for clients' seasonal marketing campaigns in the past:
3) The Website/ Blog
There are a number of ways to incorporate the marketing campaign onto your website. If you plan ahead and really want to make an impression, you can add an interstitial (pop-up graphic/web page) or a banner ad on your site announcing the promotion, or create a promotional home page header using the graphic and link it to a promotional landing page. Another, easier way would be to simply replace the home page photo with the campaign graphic or another festive photo. See below how Target has changed it's main website header to promote a seasonal sale.
You should also add an announcement in the news section of your site or your blog leading up to and during the promotion.
4) Social Media
Plan at least a month of promotional posts leading up to the event or sale. These should include fun and festive seasonal posts as well as more targeted posts that include the campaign details. At the same time create a promotional cover photo incorporating the campaign graphic or another seasonal display related to your campaign.
Plan out the design of your festive office décor. Will you be rearranging merchandise to highlight clearance items, creating new decorative displays or just adding a festive ornamental? Order branded stocking stuffers (lens cleaner or cloths), display props and anything else you might need. If you are hosting an event, you will also need to arrange refreshments and entertainment.
Here is a cute idea from Hoya and The Optical Vision Site that involves a competition making holiday ornaments from recycled lenses: Holiday Lens Ornament Contest
If you will be creating signage for the campaign (using the graphic of course) to hang around the office, postcards or flyers you will need to get these ready in advance. Now is the time to create the design and compare prices. If you are sending direct mail, local real estate offices are a good place to find new addresses to mail to. They will have targeted demographic information too.
7) Create a Buzz
Make sure that staff is aware of the promotion and all of the details. Make it a policy for staff members to mention the event, promotion or campaign tagline to everyone that calls or comes in to the Practice. Repetition doesn’t hurt!
If you don’t normally, now is the time to make use of your email list. Send out a holiday greeting along with a notification of your sale, event or promotion.
The great news is an integrated marketing campaign is what you make of it. You can pick and choose which elements work with your budget and time constraints and work with that. Just keep in mind that the more channels you touch, the more exposure your campaign will get. No matter what works for you, with a little planning, investment and preparation, you can create an exciting and memorable campaign for the holiday season which will result in more cash in your pocket and a steady stream of new patients.