Down to the Wire: Marketing at the Last Minute

At the time of publishing, we’re less than two days away from the end of the biggest gift giving season of the year (time flies!). That means that the success of your pre-holiday marketing efforts has largely been determined by now – but not entirely. There’s actually still plenty of time to make a big end-of-year marketing impact.

For example, there will be a surprising number of people still shopping for holiday gifts on the 24th. That’s just the way it goes. If your organization has a brick and mortar retail location or offers gift certificates, gifts requiring electronic delivery, or redeemable services, an email blast issued before 7AM EST tomorrow could net some very favorable returns. Those shoppers who’ve procrastinated or had planned gifts fall through will be in need of something great and thoughtful. Your business could be the lifeline they need.

But perhaps more importantly, we’ve got a little secret about the holiday shopping season: it doesn’t really end on the 25th. Between cash, gift cards, and the need to find accessories for the big ticket gifts they just received, customers are often eager to do a little self-splurging in the wake of so much giving. This is why many organizations like to send out a retail-focused newsletters early on the 26th or 27th. It’s a tactic that’s usually beneficial for businesses trading both online and in-store.

Plus, there are plenty of individuals who attend holiday gatherings through year’s end. That means another group of eager buyers with an extended gift-buying calendar. Many of these shoppers will wait to buy gifts until after the holidays end, hoping that they can capitalize on post-season steals (more on that in a minute).

Finally, many charitable organizations we work with have found the last days of the holiday season to be an excellent time to reach out for donations. Some people are in a very giving mood this time of year, and a last-minute email could prompt a quick donation made for the sake of holiday spirit or one to be given as a thoughtful gift.

Building Your Newsletter

Now, when crating an email newsletter for immediately before or immediately after the holidays, it’s important to keep your content extra slim. Things like news, informative articles, and recipes are best kept for blasts sent through the rest of the year. This is crunch time, so try to keep your newsletter focused on the most relevant products or services your organization offers.

If possible, build your blast around clean, crisp photos of products and supplement them with brief descriptions and links to buy. For added impact, you can even switch from a text link to a “Buy Now” button. That will ensure that every reader knows exactly where to click to take advantage of your offer.

Otherwise, keep those newsletters short, focused, and to-the-point. That will likely net the best returns.

To Deal or Not to Deal

Many retailers are reluctant to offer deals or discounts so close to the holiday as they’re relying on customers’ increased need to shop. When you’re down to the last minute, however, you might be able to grab a little extra traction by offering modest savings on holiday-worthy products.

The same is not true after the holidays though. Most retailers smash pre-season prices hoping they might create one more rush to boost fourth quarter profits. That makes the last week of the year a difficult time for mid-level marketers and below to make an impact. Inboxes are stuffed with promotions carefully catered to the needs of the recovering shopper.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no hope. To make your products or services more enticing during the year-end glut, try to focus your newsletters on those aspects of your business that are exclusive to you. Maybe it’s excellent customer service. Maybe it’s an uncommon knowledge of the field. Maybe it’s hand-made goods that just aren’t available anywhere else. Use whatever makes your business special to attract those retail-fatigued eyeballs. It could be the difference between closing 2014 with a bang or just a whimper.