Seasonal Marketing Campaigns: 5 Steps for Success

Written by Mariana Magalhães
14 November 18 | read

Seasonal Marketing Campaigns: 5 Steps for Success

With the holiday season approaching, a lot of marketers are looking into crafting the perfect seasonal marketing campaign, either for the entire holiday season, a specific day like Christmas Day or for the New Year celebrations.

Drafting and coordinating the perfect seasonal campaign can, however, be a challenge as there are so many different aspects to consider. The time and forethought to creating a seasonal marketing strategy can deter some smaller businesses from partaking, but with a little help, you can easily participate in the festive cheer.

To help you create the best campaign for your business, we break down all the steps to creating the most effective seasonal marketing campaign.

What is Seasonal Marketing?

We tend to think of seasonal marketing heavily around the holidays since everything tends to transform with lights in December! But seasonal marketing isn’t just for the end of the year; seasonal marketing is referred to marketing that is particular to an exclusive event throughout the year such as Christmas, Halloween, New Years, Easter and many others.

Seasonal campaigns are not only ads and large productions, like the famous John Lewis Christmas ads and the Gap commercials. A seasonal campaign could be you rewarding your most loyal customers, offering a discount code, free shipping, a free gift with a certain level of purchase, a raffle drawing…honestly, the options are endless!

How Effective is Seasonal Marketing?

Very efficient.

A study by Statista found that during the Valentine’s Day season in the United States in 2013, $244.9 million was spent on seasonal chocolate due to seasonal marketing campaigns.

According to the National Retail Federation, 20 to 40% of yearly sales for small and mid-sized retailers take place within the last two months of the year due to an end-of-year increase in marketing campaigns.

Accenture claims 55% of consumers plan to visit stores on shopping days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

And this is expected to grow. E-marketer states U.S. seasonal sales are expected to increase 5.7% year-over-year, reaching $885.70 billion due to high competitive ads between companies.

That’s a whole lot of money in seasonal campaigns!

This is a chance for your business to stand out and infiltrate the competition to reach a profit.

Seasonal marketing strategies aren’t just for the large companies, though; small businesses should partake as well! There’s a large pie of profits available and by not taking the time to plan a seasonal campaign, you’re missing a large opportunity.

Seasonal campaigns do require some pre-planning to orchestrate them properly, but we’ve got a five-step plan to help you align your campaigns with your customers.

Learn the five-step process all seasonal marketing campaigns can be broken down to and how you can help your business benefit from a seasonal campaign.

1. Goals and Messaging

Like any other campaign or strategy for your company, start with your goals.

Define the goals of your campaign. What is your overall goal? Do you want to drive sales? Engage with your audience? Build brand awareness?

From your goals, you can brainstorm campaign ideas and messaging.

Layout the message you want to come across. Even if later on you decide to have your campaign across multiple channels, the overall campaign should have the same message and tone. Before you dive into the specifics, you should have this defined.

When thinking about your overall messaging consider the following points.

Incorporate Storytelling

Storytelling is a very important part of marketing. Remember the most iconic seasonal marketing campaigns? Coca-cola and the Christmas train? Starbucks and the red cups? What do they all have in common?

Storytelling.

Telling a story with your marketing campaign works because it humanises what seems to be a very transactional strategy. People are more susceptive to a story they can grasp and identify with—they can form an emotional connection to a story.

“92% of consumers want brands to make ads feel like a story.”

According to The Insider, creating a story typically also helps consumers understand and remember the campaign.

Additionally, by communicating via storytelling, companies have the power to increase the value of their product or service over 20 times.

Tie Your Campaign Message To Your Brand

Those seasonal campaigns you were remembering above all have an emotion tied to them but also feed into the brand.

Starbucks red cups capitalised on something almost every single one of their customers would get—a cup. It also fed into the brand advocacy they’re customers are known for.

So, once you have your goals set, make sure your messaging and campaign idea tie into your overall brand.

Think about which emotions you want to evoke in your audience, and what keywords encourage action or/and purchasing.

Have Messages for Each Step in the Customer Journey

Part of your strategy will be targeting customers at different points on the customer journey.

Maybe you’ll have a post on social media, as well as a hashtag and an in-store flyer. Though the messaging would all align, it would be slightly different for each stage.

Try to write different drafts for different steps along the customer journey, so you have a higher chance of converting regardless of what stage of the awareness funnel the visitor is in.

A quick recap of the customer funnel. This is a model that maps the customer behaviour journey. It looks something like this:
customer journey funnel illustration
Your customers at each stage will have different needs. Though the messages will align, they’ll need different information at each point in the journey.

Don’t Forget a Call to Action

A call to action (or CTA) is usually at the end of a post or copy and it encourages the person to take action—hence the name.

Do include different call-to-actions so you incentivise engagement and encourage your visitors to take the actions you’d like.

Your call to action is like a nice little nudge pushing people in the direction you’d like them to go.

Keep your company’s goals in the back of your mind throughout the process and communicate them via a strong message, before moving on to the next step.

2. Strategise and Plan Accordingly

Think about how are you going to achieve the goals you’ve previously laid out. What channels is your seasonal campaign going to include? How do you plan to attract your target audience? Who is your target audience?

From these answers, you can start mapping out where and how your campaign will unroll.

Which Channel to Feature Your Seasonal Campaign?

Outline which media or channels your seasonal strategy is going to include or exclude. Though there are a lot of channels for you to publicise on and reach customers, a lot of channels demand a lot of work. And, more importantly, every channel may not be right for your target audience so some will be wasted efforts.

If you’re on a tight deadline or have a small team you might want to concentrate your efforts on a couple of channels instead of including every one. Fewer, good quality channels are better than a sporadic presence on a lot of channels.

Here some of the channels you might want to consider including in your seasonal campaign strategy:

  • Hero header on your website
  • Print media (such as fliers, door hangers, and mailers)
  • Social media
    • Instagram ads, organic posts and imagery
    • Instagram Stories
    • Facebook ads and organic posts
    • Facebook Stories
    • Twitter ads and organic tweets
    • Snapchat ads and organic posts
    • Pinterest ads and organic pins
  • Ads
    • Social media
    • Google Ads
    • Bing Ads
  • Email marketing campaigns

Many small businesses think a seasonal campaign will cost them a lot of money. A lot of the channels you can utilise to get your message out are free! Organic social media posts, interacting with your in-person customers, email campaigns and switching out imagery on your website are all free campaign initiatives.

We’re not knocking the paid avenues: sometimes they can help you reach more people faster, but don’t underestimate the power of your current channels, either.

You should have a good understanding of your target audience from your year-long campaigns. Use the data from these past initiatives to inform you where is the best place for your seasonal campaign push.

3. Timing

Timing is tricky because it seems that when dealing with seasonal campaigns the preferable deadline is yesterday. After all, “seasonal” is usually only once per year.

The solution?

Research.

Some research goes a long way.

There are always a couple of elements in your seasonal campaign. You’ll most likely have a social media strategy, a PR strategy, website strategy, maybe a traditional media and an additional digital marketing element. With these moving parts, you’ll want to ensure you have enough time to complete each of them and hold a successful campaign.

Research when your target audience starts shopping or when they’re ok with starting to see seasonal campaigns. For instance, maybe for Black Friday you can push ads earlier than you could for Easter.

With your PR efforts, don’t forget the print time associated with features. PR professionals suggest sending them ideas and pitches three months before the event actually starts, as monthly publications are always scheduled ahead of time.

For PR, some magazines have media deadlines publicly available for you to submit ideas and pitches to them. Other authors and media publishers ask for ideas on Twitter. Do go out of your way to research your industry and medium; you’ll be surprised by just how much professionals are actively looking out for new ideas.

If you’re publishing on your blog or social media, you can be a little bit more flexible with your deadline. But we encourage you to have everything in the campaign planned together and have a timeline of when each part needs to be completed. We promise, planning ahead saves a lot of headache down the line.

If you miss something, obviously, don’t try to post after the event is over. No one wants to see Halloween posts during Christmas Day. You might upset someone.

When setting up your timing, start with when your campaign should be launched and then work on when you would need each element of the campaign ready to go.

4. Draft It Up

Now that we have all the info, it’s time to draft it up!

Most likely you’ll have images and copy and probably some video tied to your seasonal campaign.

If you need help with imagery do check out our free design tools blog. It has info on the best, free tools for your imagery needs.

Reminder, don’t forget to pay attention to dimensions for each channel. And make sure you proofread and revise all of your posts on a separate day after you write them. Reviewing them a second time helps you check nothing slipped your mind and makes sure you don’t get document fatigue. If possible, have different team members review them as well.

Regardless, if you want to schedule it or not, when drafting your campaign, decide when to post and have everything you need on hand ready to go.

5. Press Send

You’ve done it!

We recommend as the posts go live to always review them. This allows you to catch any errors but also react with your followers and audience in real time as they see the posts.

Oversee and pay special attention to your seasonal campaign, you want to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Make sure you track your results and read comments/feedback so you can learn from what worked and what didn’t. Next year, you’ll be able to do it better! Or at least, next season.

And that leaves us here: 5 steps, easy to memorise! Make sure you follow these steps on your next seasonal marketing campaign.

Good luck, may planning your seasonal marketing be as fun as the holidays are.

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