Is your business ready to take on the holiday season? If you’re thinking, “No way, it’s only the first quarter of the year,” it’s time to think again. Many businesses make the mistake of holding off on holiday planning until November rolls around, when everyone is strapped for time, resources, and energy. But, by planning your Q4 marketing campaigns in advance, you’ll have ample time to get all the moving pieces together and be better equipped to hit your year-end goals.
If you wait, you risk losing out on huge profit potential, as the holiday season can account for as much as 30% of annual sales for some retailers. Don’t fall behind the competition—here’s more about why both B2B and B2C companies can benefit from strategizing for the holiday season now, and a few quick tips to get you started.
B2B Holiday Planning
From October to December, retailers heavily leverage tools such as social media advertisements, festive signage, and email campaigns to advertise their best deals of the year. Compared to the scale of these B2C retailers’ campaigns, B2B businesses can easily fall flat in Q4—but with so much potential revenue on the line, there’s no reason why these brands shouldn’t be taking advantage of this multi-billion dollar season.
Why the current gap between the Q4 retail madness and B2B companies? While huge lines at the mall and attention-grabbing promotions are easy for consumers to see and act on, the B2B buying cycle is much more complex. For starters, B2B purchases often require buy-in from high-level executives or multiple departments, such as accounting, procurement, or marketing. B2B contracts or purchases are also often long-term, as opposed to the one-off purchases individual consumers make, which means more consideration and research is required before a final decision is made.
For these reasons, you may think the end-of-the-year rush is a bad time for B2B companies to make purchase decisions. However, good discounts or a strategically executed promo campaign can be just the right incentive a business needs to buy or sign a new contract, even in Q4. There are plenty of holiday marketing ideas that are equally as relevant for B2B companies, and if yours is hesitant to get on board, here’s three key reasons why it’ll be worth your while.
1. Be seen as an industry thought-leader. People don’t typically expect a B2B company to participate in the Black Friday craze or offer holiday promotions. Therefore, getting on board will set you apart from the competition and make people in your industry talk.
2. Create a sense of urgency. The reason why Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are so popular is because consumers feel like they’re fighting over a limited quantity of deals. This makes shoppers act quickly rather than stopping to think about their decisions further, and even though the B2B buying cycle is more complex, you can still replicate this mindset by creating a sense of urgency.
3. Build brand loyalty. If your customers know you’re going to offer a once-a-year promotion during the holidays, they’re likely to continue purchasing from you annually rather than trying someone new. Additionally, if they’ve had a positive experience with your business, there’s a high chance they’ll give word of mouth recommendations to other companies they work with and professionals in their network.
Do we have you convinced to start planning early? If you’re ready to get started but aren’t quite sure how to adapt a holiday promotions strategy to your B2B company, try one of these easily-implementable marketing ideas.
1. Retarget previous leads. If you have leads that never quite made it through the whole sales funnel, the holiday season is the perfect time to retarget them with a promotion or sale. This could give them the final push they need to actually make a purchase!
2. Leverage social media. As a B2B company, you can still capitalize on the power of social media throughout the holiday season to promote awareness for your brand and advertise any special offers. By strategically targeting ads, you can garner the attention of your exact target market. LinkedIn is the most valuable social site for B2B marketers with 80% of B2B leads coming from this platform, and it’s 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook or Twitter!
3. Offer valuable content. Throughout the holiday season, consider promoting a free webinar, offering an eBook, or creating an informative infographic—by sharing content that is genuinely valuable to your target audience, you’re fostering a relationship with them and showing your value. Even if they’re reluctant to sign a new contract or make a big purchase in Q4, you can still follow-up with them or have a customer sales rep reach out to them in the new year.
B2C Holiday Planning
In 2018, an estimated 165.8 million consumers shopped between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday. 95% of them purchased holiday gifts and other items for themselves and their families, spending $313 on average. What does that mean for B2C businesses? If you don’t have a strategy behind your holiday messaging and promotions, you’re missing out on a lot of potential revenue.
So how can you mitigate the risk of falling flat in Q4? By planning for the holidays now—because your consumers are starting early too. In fact, 4 out of 10 consumers will start their holiday shopping before November 1. If you wait to devise your plan until Q3, you’re already behind the curve and could be losing out to competitors that got a jumpstart on their year-end promotions and advertising efforts. Here’s three key reasons why waiting can put a wrench in your holiday revenue goals.
1. Increased ad competition and costs. Advertising gets very expensive in Q4, and consumers are constantly being bombarded with promotions and messages from every direction. In order to lock-in ad inventory at more reasonable prices and build up your social following and email lists to target during the holiday season, you have to start early.
2. Influx in email creation. On average, retailers increase their email frequency to subscribers by about 50% during November and December, and that’s a lot of extra emails that need to be written, designed, and coded. Starting early can help you avoid rushing and making mistakes during the busiest, most stressful time of the year.
3. Holiday SEO takes time. If you want to be ranking in December, you need to start today. Since many keywords are seasonal, if you’re ranking well for your main keywords, you’ll pick up on a ton of extra free traffic. Don’t miss out on this visibility because you didn’t plan your SEO strategy sooner!
Okay, so now that you know why it’s necessary to get ahead of your holiday planning, you’re ready to get started. But in such a saturated market, what can you do to differentiate from other B2C companies that are just as focused on meeting their year-end benchmarks? Try one of these quick tips for success.
1. Select the strongest channels to focus on. What combination of mediums and platforms will your holiday marketing campaign comprise of? Which social platforms should you be most heavily leveraging? Get a clear picture of the engagement and conversion rates of your various channels early on, so you can develop an individual strategy for each as well as an overall strategy that ties it all together.
2. Sell your brand, not just products. Every holiday season, millions of companies are competing for sales from the same pool of consumers. Differentiate and drive revenue, as well as long-term brand loyalty, by positioning your products as a lifestyle choice and telling the story behind your brand. This changes the consumer mindset, and rather than getting hung up on price or functionality, your consumers will want to be a part of the lifestyle you represent.
3. Track your results and re-evaluate success. One of the biggest advantages of starting your holiday planning early is having enough time to change directions if something isn’t going the way you anticipated. Consider allocating a small budget to test your campaigns with smaller audiences or focus groups in order to refine your strategy before the holiday season is actually upon you and it’s too late to make adjustments.
For both B2B and B2C companies, your Q4 performance sets the tone for how you’ll enter the new year. Minimize year-end chaos, maximize profits, and have a strong start to Q1 by planning your holiday strategy now! Need more guidance or support when it comes to crushing your marketing campaigns, driving brand awareness, and increasing conversions? Reach out to our experts today.