christmas-ornament-207334_640It seems that every year, brick and mortar retailers get an earlier and earlier start on the holidays. That same thinking and planning is now spreading to the online world as well. Business men and women are getting an increasingly early start on their holiday plans when formulating and executing their social media plans. The pressure to do so is all but irresistible. Here’s what you need to do in order to keep pace with the competition.

Set Firm, Clear Goals

The worst thing you can do is not prepare for the holiday season. You need to be proactive where the holidays are concerned and the first step in doing that is to set clear goals. Expectations need to be managed and firm projections need to be made. The sooner you do so, and the firmer those projections are, the better off you’ll be. It’s important here to manage your expectations. If you normally see a 20% sales bump during the holiday season, then don’t plan on tripling your sales unless you’re doing something truly radical. Just about the only thing worse than not planning at all is to make utterly unrealistic plans; be careful with that.

Formulate Your PPC Strategy

If you’re going to use any sort of PPC (Pay Per Click) strategy to boost your holiday traffic, then you need to do two things. First, set your budget and stick with it. Second, you need to begin now to research the keywords you plan to incorporate into that strategy. Armed with your keywords, you can begin doing more intensive research and put some preliminary numbers behind your strategy to enable you to create an outline budget and associated bid numbers for each keyword. These will be subject to change of course once your campaign is under way, but the more of these kinds of details you can iron out now, the better off you’ll be when the time comes to kick things into high gear.

Understand The Demographic Changes

You might think you understand the demographics of your customer base, but during the holiday season, things are different. Do you know where your customers travel to? Odds are excellent that wherever you thought they were, a significant percentage of them will be elsewhere during the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you don’t take that into account then your marketing efforts may be misdirected. Different people might come into your marketplace because, for example, they are buying gifts for people much younger or older than themselves. For example, the stylish yet cozy knitwear that you market to 60 year olds should perhaps start to feature in the online musings of their 18 year old gift purchasing grandchildren.

Define (& Magnify) Your Voice

Consistency is key, but whatever voice you’ve got into the habit of using for the rest of the year, make it…more. Bigger, louder, more provocative and evocative. You’ve got to find ways to stand out from the crowd while staying true to the voice you’ve established. Yes, that can be tricky, but those who get this right during the holiday season will see big dividends for their efforts. Those who get it wrong will suffer.

Make Connections Now

Especially with advocates and important bloggers in whatever industry you’re operating in. The game has changed, and today, bloggers are key opinion makers. You need them on your side if you want to succeed. Getting them in your corner needs to be a key component of your marketing strategy. Without them, you’re swimming against the current. It might be great exercise, but there’s little gain in it.

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