Holiday Campaign Planning: A 10-Step Checklist

It is NEVER too early to start planning Holiday Campaigns! Top-tier retailers (upper 3%) had already begun planning by Labor Day– and even starting -their holiday marketing efforts. Been in a Target lately?! Now is the time to start planning YOUR holiday campaigns to maximize your return, minimize your costs and be as efficient as possible.

What audience will you target, will you create different segments, how will you reach these targeted segments and who will help produce the creative? What messaging worked, what messaging did NOT work – and why? Are your ideas fresh and current- or are you stuck in the 2000s? Who wrote the copy last year, did it work, and should you hire out the creative this year?

Where do you start? As it is said, “those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.” Review what happened last year and what you learned so far this year. Then ask these questions as you look ahead to the 2011 Holiday season:

1. Did we run into time crunches in our production process? What production changes would make things run more smoothly? Can our production company help?

2. Which of our (video) campaigns generated the highest awareness and conversion? Determine the cause of the over-success. Were there specific offers (percent discount, dollar discount, free shipping, tiered offers, etc.) that caused this effect?

3. Which (video) campaigns generated the lowest awareness or conversion? Why did they underperform?

4. Which content and segmentation tactics were the most successful?

5. Which campaigns became viral- and what about those campaigns made them so?

6. Did we change our messages or timing, and at what frequency? Why- or why not?

7. Did we change our audience targets, why and when?

8. Were our (video) campaigns coordinated with social and mobile campaigns? Did we quickly incorporate learnings from social and mobile channels into our video messaging? Can we improve our cross-channel integration?

9. Did we capitalize on the increased traffic to our telephones banks, websites, social media pages and other touch-points? Can we improve further?

10. What (video) campaigns have we conducted or tested this year? What did we learn? Can we apply these learnings to our holiday campaigns?

Review last year’s holiday campaign performance, as well as this year’s testing. These are great ways to prepare for the upcoming season. Doing it now allows plenty of time to address the new challenges and opportunities you’ll be facing this year, such as better targeting, effective messaging and better cross-channel integration. And a side benefit will be placing your media early- you will save money: media are looking at 2nd Quarter results and pricing now- and have not set up 4Q rate cards yet. Buy early, buy a lot and get rock bottom pricing- you can always let some media go, but when you add media in November you will be paying top dollar!

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