5 Experts Give Their Advice on How Businesses Should Approach Holiday Marketing in 2021

Get expert advice on how to approach holiday marketing this year, from striking a chord with customers to starting earlier.

By Jane Vance ・5 min read
Business & Marketing Strategy

The holidays are knocking at the door. In the past, businesses often had a playbook for the holiday season. However, 2020 threw those playbooks on a yule log and burned them to a crisp. Given the changes to how people go about their daily lives, marketers are looking to start afresh in 2021. I reached out to a number of marketing experts to learn how they suggest businesses should approach their marketing this holiday season. When I shared their advice with my team, we were all impressed by how smart yet easy to manage their recommendations are. Read on to learn what five experts had to say. From connecting with customers and making your marketing entertaining to leveraging a quality partnership, keeping inventory in mind, and getting an earlier start, you’ll be sure to find a tip that will work perfectly for your business this year.

Strike a chord with your customers

Shama Hyder

 Shama Hyder, CEO of Zen Media   “When it comes to holiday marketing, there's a lot to consider: the cost of the season, the environment in which you're marketing, and the customer experience you're trying to create. My best piece of advice is to create a marketing plan that appeals to the human side of your business. Think, what's the holiday sentiment that will strike a chord with your customers? Rather than going in for the hard sell, show gratitude for your current customers. Using the holiday season as an opportunity to connect with customers is always a smart move, even if it is only to thank them for their business.” -- Shama Hyder, CEO of Zen MediaShama’s recommendation reminds us that our customers are people first, and who knows your customers better than you? Keep in mind what motivates them. Your holiday marketing doesn’t need to incorporate a discount when your customers really just want a thank you or some other form of acknowledgment. For example, a SaaS company like ShortStack might send long-time customers some holiday swag as gratitude. Alternatively, a clothing company might offer a sweet discount for their holiday gifts.

Make your marketing entertaining

Neal Schaffer, President at PDCA Social

 Neal Schaffer, President at PDCA Social   “Get creative. With TikTok recently surpassing YouTube in terms of average watch time per user, it is clear that people want entertainment. So make your holiday marketing entertaining and take advantage of the huge audiences that are consuming content on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube Shorts. If your company isn't creative enough to create your own content, it’s time to collaborate with a content creator who can make your holiday marketing ideas a reality.” -- Neal Schaffer, President at PDCA SocialNeal’s suggestion is right on trend with the move by many businesses to create video content for their marketing initiatives. Even with players like YouTube entering the game of bite-sized video content, it’s essential to meet your customers where they are. However, Neal does point out that not every company is able to create compelling video content, so there’s absolutely NO shame in hiring some professional help.

Invest in a quality influencer partnership

Jason Falls, Author of Winfluence - Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand

 Jason Falls, Author of Winfluence - Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand   "There is a good reason influencer marketing is the buzzword du jour these days: Influencers move the needle. I would at least partner with one influencer you know reaches the audience you're trying to reach and give them a good reason to continually talk about your product, service or holiday incentives through the months of November and December. Remember that it's not about one sponsored post, but about many mentions and opportunities to hit the frequency meter along with the reach. A good 1-2 month partnership can be a very economical investment and consistently remind their audience of the opportunities your product or service offers." -- Jason Falls, Author of Winfluence - Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your BrandAs a leading expert in influencer marketing, Jason knows a thing or two about creating meaningful partnerships with influencers. People who see someone they trust mention your business multiple times are more likely to become customers than people who only see it once. However, you must keep in mind that the best influencers are those whose audience overlaps with your target market.Pair a high-quality influencer partnership with clever video content like Neal suggested that overlaps with the same target audience, and you’re bound to see sales soar.

Start earlier than in the past

 Nick Stamoulis, President at Brick Marketing   “In non-pandemic times, I would say start your digital marketing campaigns right after Halloween. This year, to our clients we are recommending holiday campaigns start earlier in October and more story-based marketing and less interruption marketing this year. For many eCommerce companies there will be a supply chain bottleneck and slower than normal shipping, so we are advising clients to start their sales and promotions early to ensure that online sales get delivered before the rush for sales take hold (Black Friday/Cyber Monday).” -- Nick Stamoulis, President at Brick MarketingWe’ve been hearing about the supply chain disaster waiting to happen in the news, and Nick’s insight on starting your marketing earlier than in the past is right on point. Incentivize your customers to purchase earlier than Black Friday/Cyber Monday to get their orders in before the rush. Buyers will feel better about having their gifts taken care of, and your business will also have less competition for their attention. For example, an online retailer might consider offering their biggest sales in early November to get their product out the door and in the hands of their customers sooner.

Keep inventory in mind

 Andre Niemeyer, Digital Driver at i9media   “The latest COVID surges may lead to yet another record-breaking online sales season. But this time there will likely be an even greater inventory crunch. Aligning the holiday promotions with the inventory on hand will be critical. Also keeping an eye on margins will be key. With limited inventory, you may find stores/brands less inclined to offer deep discounts. Watching the competitors and being able to adjust with an A/B launch plan may be the solution to optimize sales without cannibalizing margins.” -- Andre Niemeyer, Digital Driver at i9mediaAndre makes a wonderful point about keeping your inventory in mind when developing your marketing strategy. As Nick mentioned, global shortages and labor issues are impacting the supply chain for this holiday. Because of this, many businesses won’t be able to stock up as they have in the past. If you’re a business that usually relies on deep discounts to drive sales, take a step back. Maybe you should consider a different strategy, such as targeted discounts or offers for your best customers.See? I told you these suggestions were insightful, but something almost every business could implement. Now, roll up your sleeves, grab a cup of holiday cheer (or coffee) and get to work.

About the author

By Jane Vance ・5 min read

Jane has over a decade of martech experience, with an emphasis in content marketing, UX, and customer success. Her combined skillset and years of hands-on experience make her a valuable player in the industry. In her free time, Jane loves quiet family dinners at home and a good book.

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