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Build Your Holiday Marketing Plan

Lesson 4 of 18

Align Your Marketing with the Holiday Buying Cycle

Megan Auman

Build Your Holiday Marketing Plan

Megan Auman

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Lesson Info

4. Align Your Marketing with the Holiday Buying Cycle
There are 3 major players in the holiday buying cycle and business owners should be prepared to address each of them.

Lesson Info

Align Your Marketing with the Holiday Buying Cycle

Now the best way to achieve your goals is to align your marketing with the natural holiday buying cycles if you can't do that, then it makes everything so much easier if you know when and why people are buying and you position your marketing to hit them at just that right moment it's going to make it so much easier. So what is the holiday buying season actually look like we looked at some of those trends in terms of numbers and percentages twenty three percent coming from email versus one point nine from social media ten percent online versus you most of that coming from the rest coming from stores so we looked at in terms of numbers, but now I want to talk about it in terms of the calendar. So what we're thinking about the holiday buying cycle we're actually gonna look at three different players because they all drive sales in different ways, so I want to talk for a minute about stores about the media and by that I mean magazines, newspapers, things like that and then consumers so our...

end customer so starting off with stores so department stores and big box stores begin planning for holiday usually over a year out sometimes as much as you know, eighteen months, so if your goal it's just that your product in target this year not gonna happen depending when you're watching this you know it may even be that if your goal is to sell the anthropology they pulled samples several months ago for holiday season but here's the good news smaller stores and boutiques begin buying for holiday in july and august they go teo the major trade shows in july and august some of them might order before but this is when they're really focused on looking for product the writing those orders in those months and they're also writing them even into you know september and october they're still looking for product throughout the fall when things pick up so you know you can get to them you know later than you think but we're not going to pitch a store on december twentieth now that said what I have found in the last years our stores are buying later into the holiday season I mentioned that the first couple of years that I did wholesale by the first weekend in november both feet up and relaxed and kind of laughing and all my friends doing their crazy craft shows but what I found is that as budgets have gotten tighter stores are buying less product through the fall and then they're getting tio the end of november sometimes even the beginning of december and realizing that they don't have enough inventory to get them through the holiday season so now I'm getting last minute rush orders from stores in november in the first week of december sometimes so if you know that and prepare for it and you could be the one to turn it around quick I make more money now in december than I ever have a foreign wholesale because I'm prepared and ready for my stores I should be honest I actually make that money in january because all my existing stores are on that thirty so they pay me in january but I'm getting those later but here's the key they're not taking on new product at the end of november in the beginning december they want to buy from their regulars that they know are selling well so that's why we still want to make sure that we're in those stores in september and october because then we're the ones that they're going to come tio to fill those last minute shelves are empty problems now I know that you have other courses yeah creative eye but now a lot of people are asking how do I get into stores how do I pick so unfortunately we do not have time to talk about that in this class but I have an entire costs on that here in creative live called tell your products to retailers while this class is broadcasting live it is on sale so you can go check that out on we go through every single detail of how to write a pitch email howto find stores how to build your line sheet because it's a big topic and you want to do it right so on that but we will talk about a couple of little ways to connect with stores in addition to those big pitches throughout the day today thank you all right so here's how to make the store buying cycle work for your business pitch stores in july and august with new fault lines and again and sell your products retailers we talk about how to write those pitch emails but one of the simplest things you khun dio is pulled together a postcard with a great image of your work and mail it to stores around this time if you'd like more wholesale information go to this page on my website or email me directly at really simple now you have to have some you have to have some place to give them more wholesale information but that's a really quick easy and visual way to pitch stores and that's always a part of my july and august holiday marketing plan is either doing a postcard mailing sometimes that this year I did a catalog mailing on dh sometimes in september if I still have a few printed line sheets hanging around and some stores I haven't seen all this mail online sheet so they have it some of my buyers are a little old school they would rather look at it on paper but on a computer that's fine I know that and I'll make it work for them so then aim if you can for september or october delivery to get the line into the store usually when people are new to wholesale, I say give longer lead times tell people it's going to be four to six weeks, but if you're pitching in august or the beginning of september, let people know you can do a two to two to three week delivery if you can if you can't don't promise that, but this is the time of year to give stores a faster delivery because you're the one that they're going to come back to when they need to reorder then and then existing stores reach out to them in november or early december toe let them know how quickly you can fill last minute reorders hey guys need a fill in? I've got product ready to go. This is where making the product in advance makes that a little easier, right? And if we've planned our holiday marketing, we've got everything taken care of. Hopefully we can do that. And then a bonus when you're reaching out to stores is to highlight seasonal products or great gift items. Let them know what's most likely to sell in the holiday season if you even if you have reached out to stores if you were selling online last year, were the products that people bought more of you focus on the things that people buy if you're a jeweler people by hearings of gifts, I have no idea why it's just what they dio ask any store you know a friend of mine has a store and she was like, I'm trying to sell more jewelry she's mostly stationary like you need more hearings, the climate that's people by his gifts that's it for some reason it feels safe to people, so make sure you know what the products are if you could put things together and make them gift herbal and that's something you could probably do right pull some of your sauces together and great gift packages anything you can do to make that easier on the stores because then it makes it easier on their customers. So then the second piece of our buying cycle puzzle are the media now this isn't I'm gonna tell you right now this is an optional marketing thing if you're looking to really boost and grow, this is great it's possible to have a really successful holiday season without doing any media outreach. But for some people especially your goal is to go really fast. This could be a big piece of it so magazines are scouting and shooting and writing their december issues, which are their gift guides in july and august and the issue is press ready by mid september press ready that means that they're done photographing they're done writing they're not considering pitches it's an early time frame if you missed that shoot for bloggers and online media there's no hard and fast rules if there's no prints schedule, they have to live by so bloggers and online media some of them begin scouting as early as september and october some of the bigger blog's air probably scouting even earlier than that and I would say most of them if they've got their stuff even marginally together they're looking to launch they're online gift guys in november before black friday weekend, so we want you know you want to get to them before they do that. And I want to say one more thing about the online piece just because it's online and may have a smaller audience than a magazine, they may actually drive more sales because those online gift guide coverage usually gets you a direct link to your product and you cannot be the value of that, you know, they see the magazine I remember where did I put that? Was the name of them actually why search is so important but this is great because it gets you that direct link. So if you're looking to boost your traffic and boost your audience, working with the media can be really great and again, I know because people are probably asking we don't have time to get into the details of that in this class, but there are some great classes here in creative live bridget lions did some great classes on that you can get on pitching your products to the media so that's something you confined there as well on that I'm actually working with bridget lions to develop of course on holiday gift guide boot camp something that bridget wrote that I'll be offering through designing an mba so that something you're interested in you can actually go sign up for the mailing list designing an mba dot com and we'll let you know when that's available so how to make the media cycle work for your business so you need a pitching editors really in july were very early august with new fault lines and highlighting those seasonal products or great gift items under twenty five under fifty great gifts for guys great gifts for you know pick all those categories travel overstock, glover's whatever it is you know the more you can actually just position it in really logical gift guys the better you'll be the later you make your pitch the more important it is to have press ready images which means shot on a white background and at high resolution because if they're considering a product last minute and they don't have to get it in and shoot it, they can just take your image and pop it right in the magazine that's a big deal that may make the difference between getting coverage and getting not you know, when you look in a magazine and you see some of those trends sections in those round up since the beginning aa lot of those air typically some of the last pieces to be finalized and I've gotten product in those because I've had a press ready image ready to go, so the later you pitch them mohr important, important all the time, but it's really critical the leader you pitch on, do I? Actually what I do is I just keep a drop box folder of press ready images said if I get an email from the member of a member of the press, I can just here's the link that dropbox folder let me know what you need and then reach out to bloggers and online media in the early fall and follow up bloggers get a lot of pitches, so if you're really serious, if you think your product is really great for a particular gift guide, don't just send one email sent an email sent another email a couple of weeks later with the words following up or did you see this somewhere in there and make sure you do that? All right? So our third piece are consumers, which is all of us it's everyone so consumers start unconsciously planning for the holidays long before they want to be consciously reminded of them, I'm already thinking oh that's a cool thing I could get my brother for christmas or you know, maybe my husband would like that, but I don't want to walk into a store in september and see christmas decorations nobody does, but you're already starting to think about what if those great kind of gift ideas this would be perfect for that person, so the more you can start feeding your products out to people now just making them aware that they exist that's how we get implanted in customers minds that they can buy now about a quarter of all shoppers do you begin purchasing for the holidays in october? Some people like to be prepared some people like to spread out their holiday shopping budget you know if they can spend part of that money in october when it doesn't feel so tight in november and december, so people are starting to think about and by holiday gifts, but november first is really the official start of the holiday shopping season. It's still not ideal no one really wants to be pushed really hard right the first week of november, but you're starting to be a little bit more aware of it. And actually we see this trend in online retailers one of the major players, so amazon actually starts doing a lot more free shipping offers right from the beginning of november and highlighting more of those gift herbal products so you couldn't do it without feeling totally over hey by this it's the best gift ever, but maybe you start showing people more of the gift type products or things in that right price point because they're starting to think about buying. They are, of course, also making more last minute purchases online than ever before december twentieth and later they're still shopping online, especially if they live somewhere with the potential for the weather to be bad and bad weather hits. So one of the smartest things you khun dio if you are trying to boost your online sales in the holiday season is pay attention to the weather where your customers live on holiday weekends. All those weekends leading up to the holiday. I've made sales the weekend before christmas because there was a big snowstorm in the northeast and I said, hey, guys missed the shopping opportunity I'm still shipping simple, but it works because it helps people out. They plan to do all their christmas shopping that weekend and suddenly there's a huge snowstorm that's a problem it's also why having things like gift cards are really great option. You can email out the gift card or the gift card code for your shop for people who are those last minute shoppers if that kind of shipping isn't an option and depending on your platform, some of that could be auto generated as well so how to make the consumer buying cycle work for your business and we're going to talk way more about this in our next couple of sessions but how do you make the consumer buying cycle work for your business? So you want to focus on building awareness and customer retention meaning email capture in september and october so we want to get our products seeded into people's minds and if we can we want them to be and get them on our mailing list because we don't have to worry if they remember us in november, we won't make it easy on them and we're gonna talk about how to do this and then look for the opportunities to drive sales throughout november and december and not just black friday and cyber monday weekend hey guys, you know the weather's bad I'm shipping online or maybe it's just more talk about this taking a different date toe hold a holiday sale we're really talk about that a lot because it's it's a really nice, sneaky little way to drive a lot of sales not sneaky it's just really great to drive a lot of sales, so look for those opportunities the whole time to drive sales and then be clear about shipping deadlines if your product takes a while to make if it's one of a kind if it's custom be really clear on every page in your sight whether it's a pop up or something build into your theme bar that appears across stuff, whatever it is, let people know when you're shipping deadlines are you want to miss out on sales because people thought I could get it later, and then they realized, oh, no, I can't, and then if it fits within your goals, offer expedited shipping to increase last minute online orders. It doesn't have to be free. People will pay a lot of money for expedited shipping in the holiday season. It is a huge value add, so put it on there making an option, if again, if it fits with your goals of fits with your production flow. All right, so now that we kind of looked at these buying cycles and we looked at these holiday trends I want you guys to share and share online, too will start there in studio audience. What is one opportunity that you see for your business based on the holiday shopping trends, something that you think you can take advantage of to help boost your sales? Who's got one. We'll start in the middle and work our way around this time. Um, I'm j valencia, I make a sauce called pho sauce p I n t x, so, um, it is something that sells really well, if I go straight to the customer at a demo in the store flies off the show fantastic so thing so the more store events you can book and for you I think that's probably a great last minute gift idea kind of thing if people are you know on their way to a holiday party and they see you in the store and I need one more gift that's perfect awesome anitra my businesses reflection design dot com uh with the case I see and I have a gold but I also have a question yeah so my goal is when you mentioned the email gift codes get a card like that idea um but my question is sometimes I look at my product it's not necessarily go to my cell the core you know throw pelosi floor pillows and it's typically matic go to and someone's thinking of a gift I'm going to give someone a floor pillow because the pattern is taste specific colors might be you know, the core specific so people might be a little afraid that this is pretty but will they like it or will it fit? So my question is if you're in that type of scenario what type of gift without creating all new prior right so that is a great question I know it's something that a lot of people have and so the goal is to position not to create new products because they but you position that's what I just thought of, ah, did think of a gift herbal product for you, but, you know, positioning your product so that it makes sense. Riebel. So the first thing is that in september and october, so that kind of awareness building phase, encouraging the people who do love your product to explicitly request it, so encouraging them, tio put it on pinterest, boards that say, I want this encouraging them to tag someone on facebook or instagram and say, hey, this is something you could get me for the holidays, because if you have a product like yours and it, you know, it's not quite an impulse buy for a lot of people, they might, they make one it for themselves, but they don't, you know, they don't want to buy it, it feels not quite, you know, right financially they want to ask for for christmas, so make it easy because if someone asked for it, then there's, no question that they love it. That's the first piece, the second one is that the holidays are also huge for entertaining, and because of that, people do spend money on themselves. So you want to happen to people who are getting their homes ready for holiday and looking for more interesting to core so that is the reason and then you can do the same thing if you make stuff that people wear so if you think, oh, you know it's too expensive for a gift item push it as something you buy for yourself for the holiday party to feel good you know when you go to church on christmas eve, whatever it is so think about why someone might buy during the holiday because they're going to spend more on some of that stuff to so they're going to spend more decorating their home because they wanted to look good they're going to spend more on their personal style because there's more opportunities to dress up that said, you know you work in fabric. So what are a couple things that you could do at a lower price point whether it's an ornament or maybe it's a heads you know head wrapped like a simple headband just a couple of simple little gif t things that are low labor so that's the other key if you are going to add another product line that feels more of the gift price point, keep the labor low and you may decide that you know that's an online exclusive but since your goals wholesale I would make sure that you still keep the price so that stores come by it to you because stores are looking for that and if you're working with mostly homestore's they are always looking to add some more gift herbal items in the holiday season, and depending on the price point of the store, the price point of your pillows may actually be a gift herbal price point for a store that normally sells four thousand dollars sofas during the year, so keep that in mind as well. Awesome goal, our opportunity actually to, um, since I sell while it's, I'd also sell key chains, and I was thinking maybe I could give a discount on the key chain because it can hook onto the wallet. So bundle, yeah, and then I also thought also make a smaller, just cardholder that's, a little bit more compact and even the wallet, so I could sell that as a gift card holder. Yes, especially, and then it doesn't have a life after so after they use the gift card mall wallet, credit cards, yeah, that's it excellent idea, because people are always looking for ways to just slightly personalize that really impersonal gift card that they picked up. I think for myself, in terms of refocusing on enterprise, we need tio sort of get my name on the roster because they need to have a budget for something and they don't your market that it's gone, so I like them to your market for me. I don't know, you know, if there's a way to kind of spin your services to you, something fun at a holiday party or the things that the officers are already doing, you know, they have kind of certainly there have means, but they're doing more social things during the holidays, too, and a lot of those are a separate budget that may not be blown yet because they're still planning the office holiday party. So thinking about opportunities like that as well. Great, thank you, ellen mcgirt, easy, a juvenile hall design there's two items that I'm really focusing on for the holidays one is and adult coloring book, which I think is a great gift and very on trend right now. Yes, and another thing that I've done before but have new designs which your holiday ornaments and what I found before is that people, not probably half the people, buy them for themselves and the other half by them as gifts. So I think bloggers is a great way because they tend to be putting together those lists of what to get people on day. I also offered it with, like, you know, the chocolate grass, and they're chocolates in there and ribbons and a like, total complete package on guy think like you said the blogging community coming a little later on the scene than other people it's a great last minute oh my god, I'm going to its interparty what am I gonna get right? You know and even already have things like I know one of my go to holiday gifting tricks is that I'll throw an ornament on a bottle of wine so if you can get your ornaments position or someone is going to buy the last minute bottle of wine working with a couple I know your goals online but working with, you know, a couple of local wine shops or things like that that could be a nice way to sort of boost those sales as well, because just anything that you can do to help people make a generic gift feel more personal people will spend on that because especially if it's the last minute kind of thing we'll finish our role here and they will jump her online audience. I think that this year along with my um new email list that I worked not after this week, I'm going to try and generate an email wish list from people because my target demographic remote, mainly women, that impulse shop and they're not impulse shopping for themselves during the holidays s o I think if I can target then and have then be able to auto generate through like google has, um forms for it so that they can generate an email to their spouse or to their parents or to a family member that says, hey, look, you know, these are the things that I like from her shop, you know, why don't you check them out? So then it automatically links my my listings in the email that's being sent to their family members so they know exactly what we're to go where to buy it, what colors they want yeah, I think that's really great. The other thing is that, you know, just because we can use technology to do things doesn't mean we have to, so you can keep it really simple, you know, a lot of my sales come from, you know, women who saw it and said, hey, honey, buy this for me when you send an email out to your customer, remind them like, if this is something that you want, why not forward this email to someone and ask for it it's way less steps? And it may be equally as effective because one of the things that you may find is that that it's a lot of work for them to pick out a lot of things and then say, hey, someone by this but it's two seconds, two for the email to the husband or the sister, whoever they're hoping to buy for them so I would experiment I would experiment with both but try the easy route first because if it's working then you don't have to go through setting up the google form and all of those other things so my name's jane and my business is the quote lab so much on artist so it's a lot of one of a kind pieces and some prints some a little I think like meeting in person is the best that also may be some quirky bloggers yeah partnering with a few people and you know and it may not be in your house but again thinking about you know is there I'm kind of ah slightly you know lower price point item you can throw in for the holiday season but you can also think about how do I encourage that group gifting so maybe this is a great gift for all of the siblings to go in together and by her mom or buy for grandma you know something from all the grandkids so thinking about how you can remind people that even if the price point is not a great for a one to one gift it might be a great price point and a really special gift as a many toe one gift um I'm bronwyn mock with tireless hearts um and yesterday's discussion with lisa jacobs brought up that I actually have things in my shop that may belong in a different shop and what I'm thinking is with wanting to do some new boutiques in the fall um that it would be a great time to show the key rings that key leashes the little ankle things to hold your pant leg from your bike chain you know things that are sort of more bike shop oriented or bike writer oriented yeah um that it would be a good opportunity to see if I could expand sales on those items because some of those air much more scaleable than the jewelry that I make fantastic and if you're looking to target cyclist, there are so many websites and so many places that are doing specific gifts for cyclists guy so what you could do is just do a google search of great gifts for cyclists or give cyclist gift guides bicycling gift guides and find all the places that did them last year because chances are they're going to do another one this year. We're getting from our online audience some opportunities that they're seeing absolutely and they're loving hearing all of your ideas come to life as well. So we have someone who's going tio institute a gift registry on the website katie kirkland says I sell decor too and I love the idea of tapping into people entertaining it seems like a no brainer but I had bought it at all on and then also dazzling peacock I also hadn't thought of this but taking an advantage of getting products featured on blog's and gift guides is something that I'm going to add to my goal sheet and then another one was about using those pillows or things using imagery of families sitting under a tree or using seeing them in use during the holidays season yeah, that that was really great and then katrina had said I like the idea of having a holiday sale on a unique date, so yeah, that was brilliant yeah there's where I love that idea of using, you know, the family sitting around the tree and styling some lifestyle shots that that feel holiday specific is a great way to promote for the holidays without feeling like you're pushing really overtly I also have several people talking about creating new collections are releasing new elections for the holidays and having that pre pre christmas studio sale with us nick peak to this new collection? Yeah, what you think about that in terms of timing? Yeah, so I think that it can work on dh actually, as you see when we go later on today as as I scheduled my holiday marketing, I do have a a new product lunch or a new collection launch scheduled tentatively right now for november so it can absolutely work, but you want to make sure that you're still seating all of the old projects into the marketplace before that because you know it's really as much as people buy a lot there's also a lot going on in the holidays, so you may miss out on the opportunity to build as much buzz for a new collection launches if you were doing it in the other time of year, so that can absolutely be one of your holiday marketing pieces, but I wouldn't make it your only one and we do want to stay away from those crazy weekend and probably keep it in november and not december cool. Thank you. Awesome! We have any other questions from our into your knees or online way definitely have questions and I think we're going to cover a lot of them but let's see if there's any that you want to kind of tackle right now? Well, so we were talking about about making specific products that are holiday themed in a lot of votes on this question. Is it worth making holiday theme products? Christmas jumpers or should new shop stay away from that and focus on our regular winter designs? And this person makes children's clothing? Ok that's totally up to you. I know that's not the answer that you wanted, but what you need to figure out is, is it on brand? And can I do it on brand? So if you make children's clothing and especially if you make something that has a a distinct aesthetic from everything else that you can buy ah couple of holiday themed pieces that don't feel cheesy and holiday could be huge sellers, right? So something that you can put your kids in that feels sort of holiday but doesn't make him look like a giant christmas tree or actually have them be wearing a giant christmas tree, right? That that could be a huge selling point. So if it makes sense in your designs and it feels right to your brand, it could be a huge opportunity, but if it doesn't don't force it, sure, you don't want to be left over with all this inventory that hold on to that, right that's a good point and that's a perfect case where better to do it in a smaller quantity, make it a big deal and be ok with it if it sells out, because that actually will then let people know, oh, I want this for next year. I better get on it quicker and some themes of what we're talking about here scarcity as being being a solid tactic. Well, so we do have questions going back to the bloggers and getting your products there do most bloggers who do give guides on lee want products that come with affiliate links? How do you incentivize? Well, the feature you, this is from lisa zoe. Yeah, big questions. So that is a great question on the answer, is it very much depends on the blawg because, at least in the u s, the fcc guidelines now require that bloggers just disclose affiliate links, so if they put it together, especially the bigger blog's that kind of doing this longer if they put together a gift guide where the entire thing is affiliate length, their audience is going to be like, whoa! Like this not cool. So I would say look at what they've done in past gift guides because they have to disclose, so you'll know whether their previous gift guides were all affiliate links. What I'm seeing a lot, especially the bigger media dio on dh those were really the ones you want to focus on. They well, have you a product, run up or gift guide, and then somewhere within that round up, they might have one sponsored peace that is actually an affiliate link. We're actually sponsored part of the post, but the rest of it still remains content, so I would say, focus on those you can kind of tell and you know, if you don't have an affiliate program and they don't want teacher, you just move onto a different blawg.

Class Description

Take advantage of seasonal excitement and market your products when people are buying! In Build Your Holiday Marketing Plan, Megan Auman will help you develop a reliable system for aligning yourself with the shopping seasons. 

Megan is an admired designer, maker, educator, and entrepreneur. In this class, she’ll show you how to build a marketing plan that feels authentic and energizing. You’ll learn how to: 

  • Create a step-by-step plan for holiday promotions and events 
  • Incorporate timely images and graphics into your marketing 
  • Set monthly, weekly, and daily action steps for a successful season 

You’ll find out how far out in advance you should communicate about your holiday promotions and develop a rhythm for keeping your customers informed without venturing into overkill. Megan will help you set solid goals and teach you how to develop a marketing plan tailored to meet them. 

If you continue to find yourself scrambling around the holidays and stressing about sales, Build Your Holiday Marketing Plan with Megan Auman is your opportunity to change that. You’ll learn how to build a sane and sustainable seasonal marketing plan that brings in those holiday sales – the smart way. 

Click here to download the Kickstart Your Profit Bonus Material.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with RSVP

Kick Start Your Profits

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Holiday Marketing Workbook

Improve Your Holiday Sales Sketch Note

Canva Bonus Video HD

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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It was SO helpful to actually see Megan's (tentative) schedule for her marketing plan. It's great to see people who are makers and how they run their business rather than teaching what they 'would' do or 'could' do. Thanks Megan!