Marketing and the Holidays: More is Not Better

During the holiday season, companies big and small go into overdrive, trying to drum up last minute revenue, onboard new clients, and possibly squeeze in one last big promotion before the bells chime on New Year’s Eve. Sound familiar?  It should, because the frantic pace sounds a lot like what people do during this time of year. Shop more, cook more, bake more, write more, travel more…. the list goes on and on. And where does all the frenzied leave us?  Exhausted, spent, and usually feeling like the amount of effort we put out didn’t garner the results we were looking for. When it comes to marketing and the holidays alike, more is not better. Will we ever learn this lesson? We’ll explore why more marketing is not necessarily better marketing but be forewarned:  this same advice applies to the holidays in general. By reading this article, hopefully you’ll see how planning ahead, choosing your activities carefully, and not setting unrealistic expectations will help you not only have a better marketing outcome overall, but could guide you towards having a happier holiday season too.

How planning ahead makes everything easier

So many marketers have written about the value of having a marketing strategy, a content plan, an editorial calendar, etc. Why so much talk about all these strategies, plans and calendars? Because creating a plan and sticking to a plan makes marketing efforts easier (kind of like creating a holiday shopping list and sticking to it). Planning ahead helps you to know what you’ll be doing, when you’ll be doing it, who will do it, what it’ll cost, and how you can measure your ROI. Having a plan also helps keep you on track so you’re not distracted by shiny objects like a new social media platform or new marketing tactic. It’s too easy to veer off in another direction if you don’t have a plan. The result?  You work harder and likely spend way more time and money than you were planning on. Ever done that over the holidays?  Shop for Thanksgiving dinner without a list?  Go Christmas shopping without having a budget to stick to for everyone on your list? Remember what happened?  Too much time and money spent. Having a plan in place, even the most simple one, can help keep you on track, on budget, and closer to your goals. Just like the holidays!

Don’t try to do it all, because you can’t

Ready for the next marketing vs. holiday analogy? Trying to do too much will only result in subpar results. Let’s take the holidays first. Do you know someone (maybe it’s you) that tries to have the “perfect” Christmas each year?  They decorate, shop, entertain, cook, bake and socialize until they’re completely exhausted. They end up getting sick from over-exertion or at the very least are exhausted and spent by the time the holiday arrives. Not an enjoyable way to spend the holidays. Now let’s look at marketing. There are literally hundreds of social media channels. Should be your small businesses be on all of them?  No!  Should they be on the top 10?  Likely not, but a marketing plan can help decide that for sure. When it comes to social media or any kind of marketing tactic the rule of thumb is: more is NOT better. BETTER is better. Meaning, it’s better to do five activities well versus doing thirty activities poorly. Don’t try to do too much marketing. And yes, that applies to the holidays too!

Unrealistic expectations lead to disappointment

Every year, many of us have visions of our perfect Christmas. The beautifully decorated home. The perfect holiday meal. Fabulous gifts. The ideal family get-together where everyone gets along swimmingly. Ever have that actually happen?  Where every box is checked off on your “perfect holiday” checklist?  Didn’t think so. How about the holidays where you let things be “good enough” and you relaxed a bit? You were OK with the fact that you didn’t get to holiday cards this year. You picked up a few gift cards instead of getting the “perfect” gift. Or perhaps your holiday decor was just a wreath on the door or a candle in the window. Taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture is what it’s all about. How does that apply to marketing?  Setting unrealistic expectations for your marketing efforts, like planning on your next video to go viral or increasing your conversion rates by tenfold in the first 90 days optimization is going to lead to huge disappointment. As a small business marketer, you need to set realistic expectations, whether that’s how many people visit your site, how high your email open rate is, how many followers you get on social channels or how many new leads you get. When it comes to marketing, you need to be in in for the long run. Yes, your marketing needs to provide measurable results, but the expectation needs to be reasonable. Will every Instagram post go viral?  Doubt it. Will every blog post you write attract hundreds of new readers, all clamoring to buy your service or product?  Probably not. That doesn’t mean your marketing isn’t effective! If you have a good plan, you stick the plan, and you’re seeing steady results, you’re doing a great! Every facet of life, no matter how old you are, can be negatively affected by poorly set expectations. Marketing your business is no exception; having unrealistic expectations for the outcomes of your efforts can be disastrous.

As a small business marketer, the best way to succeed in the long run is to have a plan, stick to targeted, well-defined tactics based on that plan, and set reasonable expectations. You’ll likely find by doing this that your marketing efforts (and your sanity!) stay intact. And of course, this applies to the holidays too!

Have a happy, healthy and productive holiday!