All right, so maybe that title is a little arrogant. After all, there are a million holiday list articles this time of year, ranging from “Top 10” lists to “Survival Guides” and everything in between. So, why read this one? Well, this one is different (read: hopefully interesting and helpful).
This article doesn’t take the “execute this strategy” approach, and it doesn’t take the “I bet you forgot to do x” approach, either. We all know Holiday is an insane time of year, so the last thing anyone needs is an article reminding you of things you should be doing but aren’t.
Instead, this is your basic preparatory checklist. I firmly believe the only way to combat the hectic-ness is to be prepared (and to force everyone around you to prepare).
So with that — cue the pyrotechnics and overly dramatic heavy metal entry music — I give you The Ultimate Holiday Prep List: 28 Things Every Marketer Should Do For Holiday. Here goes nothing:
1. Plan your revenue by day. Do it now. This will provide you with quick indicators throughout the campaign to let you know if you are going to be short of goal or over goal — both of which help determine your strategy moving forward.
2. Plan your spend by day through the end of the year. Do it now. Same reason as #1.
3. Review your revenue performance to date. Has it been on plan/short of plan/over plan? Whatever the trend, plan on the same trend continuing and build your strategy around it.
4. Review your marketing performance to date. What channels are on plan/short of plan/over plan? Whatever the trend, plan on the same trend continuing and build your budgets around it.
5. Plan on paid search getting expensive.
6. Know all your key consumer dates. Cyber Monday, Green Monday, Black Friday, shipping cutoff dates, etc. Write them on calendars and plaster them on everyone’s walls throughout the company.
7. Plan all your sales/discounts/promotions/events and put them on the same calendar you put on everyone’s walls.
8. Have a plan in place for when you miss your numbers. Having “backup” sales/discounts/promotions/events and additional marketing options handy will keep you from panicking.
9. Create all your sales/discounts/promotions/events banners now. You can always adjust the percentage or wording later, but creating the container (and other such elements) ahead of time will save you and your creative team a lot of stress.
10. Pre-load all your sales/discounts/promotions/events information into your ad server, search account, etc. You can always adjust the percentage or wording later, but pre-loading will save you time and stress.
11. Establish your reporting parameters/standards up front. Inevitably, something won’t go as planned and we end up wasting days trying to chase down data that is then irrelevant, as too much time has passed to act on it. Establish reporting parameters within the entire organization — then stick to them.
12. Focus your time analyzing reporting, not pulling reporting. If you haven’t automated your reporting, using even basic macros will help speed the process along.
13. Get everyone on the same page — then work to keep them there. Bring all channel managers (PR, email, site ops, display, search, affiliate, etc.) into a room at least three times per week to make sure everyone is talking about performance, upcoming events, etc. This will help shape your approach in the coming days/weeks.
14. Know your merchandise. Know what’s selling well and what isn’t. Adjust your campaigns accordingly.
15. Listen to your customers. If they aren’t happy, your campaigns won’t perform.
17. Don’t chase your competitors. You’ll never catch up, and you will waste too much time trying. Focus instead on your own value proposition, and play to your strengths.
18. Remember that #15 comes before #16 and #17.
19. Be flexible. Remember, businesses and industries shift. Expect it to happen, and don’t complain when it does.
20. Help prepare your vendors. If you deliver things late that don’t fit spec or aren’t as expected, it’s your fault.
21. Hold vendors accountable. If you did your part, hold them accountable to deliver what they said they would, in the agreed upon time frame, and with the execution everyone expects.
22. Hold yourself accountable. If you miss your numbers, a deadline, etc. — accept it, fix it, move on.
23. Know that mistakes will happen. Deal with them when they do.
24. Have a good long distance rear view mirror. Know what happened last year — what worked and what didn’t — and plan accordingly this year.
25. Have a bad short distance rear view mirror. Forget about what happened last week — act to make sure this week is successful, on plan, and meeting expectations.
26. Stress rarely leads to profitable action. Stop. Take a breath, do yoga, go for a run, sleep, etc. Then act.
27. Remember to sleep.
28. Remember to eat.
All those things aside, remember that it’s just work. You can choose to run around like a chicken with your head cut off, stressed beyond belief and dreading the idea of going to work for the next two months — or, you can choose to make it fun, push the limits, do cool things, lead your clients/teams, and make an impact on the business. There’s no avoiding holiday, so why not choose to enjoy it?
(Stock image via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.