15 Essential Steps In Building A Successful Holiday Marketing Campaign

Noble Horvath

Creating a successful holiday marketing campaign is both art and science, as marketers need to find the best formula to tap into the holiday sentiment and sell services or products that may have very little to do with the festive mood – all of it in a crowded market where […]

Creating a successful holiday marketing campaign is both art and science, as marketers need to find the best formula to tap into the holiday sentiment and sell services or products that may have very little to do with the festive mood – all of it in a crowded market where countless other companies are trying to do the exact same thing.

To succeed, a company needs to find the best way to blend the inherent beauty and magic of the holidays with their proposal while appealing to the emotions traditionally associated with that time of the year. If you do this well, you’ll be able to create a powerful ad campaign that will remain relevant for a long time to come. To help, 15 professionals from Forbes Communications Council examine the essential steps in putting together a successful holiday marketing campaign.

1. Start Your Campaign Early

Start early. Shoppers are getting savvier when it comes to preparing for the holiday season. They are seeking and comparing the best deals year-round and are not necessarily waiting for key shopping days in November and December – like Black Friday – to kick off their spending. With COVID-19 boosting e-commerce demands, brands have an opportunity to reach consumers now with holiday messaging. – Amber Micala Arnold, MWWPR

2. Know The Feeling You Want To Convey

This might sound like the premise for writing a holiday Hallmark movie, but decide on the feeling you want to convey and reverse engineer your marketing to convey it. Do you want your audience to feel joy? Comfort? Laughter? Decide on that core holiday directive and everything else – the look and feel, the copy, the visuals – will feel consistently merry and bright. – Melissa Kandel, little word studio

3. Stop Selling Your Product

Stop selling your product. It sounds counterintuitive, but some of the best campaigns have succeeded because they created a feeling for the audience, or recreated an experience, feeling of nostalgia, or childhood event. Don’t shy away from that, and only focus on targeted sales and leads. Instead, focus on the end user (or the gift-giver) and how your product will be used and make them feel. – Christina Hager, Ovations Digital


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4. Keep Context In Mind

For some consumers, the holiday season means travel, while for others, it is more about family. This year is likely to be very different. Budgets are tight and travel is minimal. Communicating for the specific context of your buyers is key. For example, tight budgets may require an emphasis on return policies and product durability. – Ajit Ghuman, Narvar

5. Embrace Emotional Marketing

When done correctly, emotional marketing drives attention and breaks out of the clutter of generic holiday sayings. However, be sure you are not over-the-top and that you resonate with your consumer. This year, people will want joy in marketing after a year of turmoil. – Heather Dueitt, MyPoint Credit Union

6. Focus On Telling A Story

Tell a story. Whether it’s a picture, video, banner – no matter what the product is, you can always tell a story and meet your audience where they are at. Holidays are about people being together, even at a distance or online. Those stories of us being together are what make life rich. – Laurie Wang, Legal Aid Alberta

7. Leverage All Possible ‘Real Estate’

An essential holiday marketing campaign needs to leverage “real estate” in all of its manifestations. Holiday marketing messaging, imagery, and promotions need to take advantage of all locations in which the target consumers will be able to engage and interact with it. This includes online assets such as website, social media, search and banner ads, as well as product packaging labeling. – Joel Goobich, Vestorly Inc.

8. Choose The Right Music

Music is an essential component of a successful holiday campaign; it is deeply evocative, closely connected to memory and emotions, and can be leveraged to connect consumers to your brand and ensure they maintain positive sentiments long after the holiday season. Further, if done correctly, your campaign will be woven into their holiday memory book. – Jessica Abel, G7 Entertainment Marketing

9. Tie It To Your Core Values

Holidays hold endless traditions, and to capture an authentic marketing campaign during a dense communication season, boil down a holiday characteristic that complements a core organizational value. Keeping this holiday campaign on brand gives the opportunity to increase brand awareness and elicit intrinsic connections with your primary audience. – Rebekah Schlichting, Pure IT Credit Union Services

10. Partner With Online Retail Channels

With the majority of consumers expected to shop online this holiday season, it will be essential to develop a digital marketing plan that is boosting a brand’s visibility in social media, drives traffic to e-commerce and reassures shoppers through credible online reviews. Partnering with online retail channels to create powerful promotional activities should also be a high priority this season. – Rafael Schwarz, TERRITORY Influence (a Bertelsmann group company)

11. Identify And Target Unique Behaviors

Identifying unique behaviors that happen during these seasons such as: emotional purchases, overwhelming advertising reactions, etc. With that in mind, I think it is fairly doable to create messaging that is not only personalized but targeted to the right way and moments of “seasonality.” – Lorena Morales, Go Nimbly

12. Be Direct And Authentic

Authenticity is key. Holiday marketing has evolved over the years and, unfortunately, does not see the returns it once did. The brands and organizations that have the most success are the ones that have a direct and authentic tie to the holiday. My advice, don’t force what isn’t there. – Kaylin Trychon, Rokk Solutions

13. Aim To Subvert Expectations

Subvert expectations. Holidays are a time for joy and cheer for all, but after the umpteenth Happy Holidays message, it starts to get a little stale. Subverting expectations by doing the unexpected can really work well. A colleague once ran a holiday campaign with a toppled over Christmas tree – it caused quite a stir and was a little facetious, but there’s no denying it was very impactful. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

14. Leverage Email Marketing

The modern age of marketing is all about PPC and social media campaigns, but there is still a tried-and-true method that shouldn’t be forgotten. In fact, email marketing remains one of the most fruitful marketing tactics available. Utilize your email list to remarket your holiday offers to existing clients. Start with analyzing your customer segments and sales data. – Jessica Wong, Valux, LLC

15. Review Past Performance

Review past performance. The best thing you can do is analyze what has worked well from your previous holiday campaigns and incorporate them into your upcoming promotions. Of course, that also means that you can identify past failures and avoid making repeat mistakes. – Liam Quinn, Reach Interactive

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