We Rebels know that as soon as shelves are cleared of Halloween candy, the holiday shopping game is officially on. But as marketing experts, we understand that your business has to be prepared for the holidays well before Labor Day Weekend is over. We asked a few of our team experts for answers to some key questions about holiday marketing strategies. How does holiday marketing strategy differ from that of other times of the year? Pam Soisson, vice president, strategy: When planning for the holidays, you need to break through and determine how much time people have to spend with your message. It’s a much smaller window of time due to the high volume of messaging they’re receiving. Make sure your message is relevant, meaningful and authentic. Jess Reilly, director, media: Moving into the holiday season, the consideration set for reaching target audiences has to be the purchase-at-time-of-search. Identify these users as hand-raisers who don’t want to shop around; they want efficiency and a fair price, so offer deals and specials. Also, set your brand aside from all the noise during the most saturated time of the year by devising a plan that’s a “fast-shopping approach,” which is imperative to target purchase-ready consumers. Allison Minutillo, director, content marketing and social media: The holidays are among the more challenging times of the year for effective content and social media marketing. We’re competing with other marketers who are also ramping up content delivery to essentially the same core audiences. It’s critical not only to stand out but to provide real value. Consumers know they are in the driver’s seat and they’re blowing their collective horn, saying: “What’s in it for me?” What’s your approach for new holiday creative every year? Paul Pita, chief branding officer: A bottle of rum and a little eggnog always help. Also: Look at what your consumer goes through during the holidays: it’s a time of higher stress and they’re bombarded with messaging and lists of things to do. Find something relatable and look for a way to ease — or even briefly mitigate — their level of stress. In other words: put a smile on their face, give them something to feel good about, and make their lives a little happier. What are three things every marketer (or strategist) should consider when it comes to holiday marketing? Pam: Think about the rest of the year: what can they do then that will set them up for holiday success. You don’t want to be entering the race during the holidays. If you already have awareness, you can build up to it because, as they say: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Relevancy in terms of B2B or B2C: It’s easier to be relevant at holidays if you are B2C, but in B2B there are a lot of competing priorities around the holidays. If your customer is B2B, you have to figure out how to help them at the end of the year: it’s less about the holiday and more about helping them navigate year-end challenges. Keeping your message fresh through the entire holiday season. If you push out the same message, people will tune it out. Keep it relevant and fresh. Paul: It’s really about elevating your brand message in a fun and interesting way that can potentially be actionable. Be patient about finding that unique angle and don’t execute an idea from a knee-jerk (“uh oh: it’s the holidays”) reaction. Develop it, and figure out how to promote your brand. Brand priorities: If your brand is fun then show it, particularly through video, which is an increasingly critical platform for marketing. Jess: Understand how people search within the brand category. During the holidays, people aren’t searching broadly; their searches are very specific and granular. Correlate with media trends. Do your research and understand what will get your biggest ROI, and understand the media consumption of your consumer. Regardless of your industry, you can always do something for the holidays, for example: “Save money on BLANK and have more money for gifts!” Or in the healthcare space: Urgent care — an awareness play for holiday injuries. This isn’t just an e-commerce game; it can be a strong lead acquisition tactic as well. Allison: Put yourself in the mentality of a person planning for the holidays. Heck, we’re all consumers this time of year! From party-planning and party-going, to gift list-making and online shopping, we’re all bombarded with and actively seeking the best content (deals, offers, value) from our favorite brands. Get out of your own way and think about them as your first step to planning holiday marketing strategies. Partner with an SEO expert or utilize an online tool to do some keyword research. Explore the highest searched terms around which you can tailor your content. Once your content ideas are validated with keyword research, it will help you frame your idea to intersect with how people search for that content. Before you press publish or post on any piece of content during the holidays, ask yourself, “Is this content valuable, original, relatable, timely, insightful, and memorable?” If it’s not at least four of six of those items, go back to the drawing board. Holiday marketing is a critical piece of any business’ strategy. So, next Memorial Day Weekend when you’re playing volleyball on the beach, it’s time to begin thinking about jingle bells at the office.