Targeting Seasonal Shoppers: When to Start Advertising for the Holidays

by Amanda DiSilvestro on December 14, 2011

When it comes to the holiday season, one of the key components of a successful holiday sale is promotion. However, a tricky question that many business owners get caught on when trying to promote a sale is when to start advertising for that sale.

If you advertise too early for a sale, then you run the risk of customers ignoring your ads and supporting other stores.

However, advertising too late can result in loss of customers who have already purchased their goods for the season.

As you can see, timing is important for a holiday advertising campaign- the right timing can help store owners  maximize their profits during the busy holiday season.

5 Tips for Creating a Timely Holiday Advertising Campaign

For stores starting to prepare for the holiday season, it is easy to get overwhelmed. With the endless amount of retailers bombarding customers with Christmas and New Year’s sales, owners may wonder when and where to place their ads for maximum impact. Here are five tips to help your store draw in seasonal shoppers.

1.    Cater to Your Audience

One common mistake that holiday marketers make is considering their audience to be one large homogenous  group. However, your target audience may exhibit certain behavior  that can help you customize your advertising campaigns (just as you would when it isn’t the holiday season).

A way to determine when to advertise is to understand the type of shoppers that patronize your store. Some shoppers are more web-savvy and prefer to scour the internet for coupons and deals, looking for the best sale possible. Other shoppers wait until the last possible moment to purchase their presents, attracted by the first sale that appears within that window.

The ideal time to place your ads will depend on the type of shoppers that frequent your store. If you have customers that tend to search and compare, then you may want to place your ads early, with competitive sales or offers.

However, if your audience is comprised of late shoppers, then you may want to conduct one, large advertising campaign a few weeks before the holidays. If you are an older company, look at the purchasing trends of past years to determine the types of shoppers you attract.

If you’re a new company, you may want to look at your competition and make educated guesses. In the information age, this is easier than most assume.

2.    Major Sale Days

When starting an advertising campaign, store owners should consider major shopping days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, if you’ve missed these days, not to worry; there still a month left before the holidays!

Marketers can still take advantage of Super Saturday, the last Saturday before Christmas, where customers frequent stores for their last-minute shopping.  For online retailers, an important period to consider is mid-December, where shoppers are starting to search for holiday sales. Retailers that want to target these dates should consider timing advertising  to appear a week or two before the date of the sale.

3.    Consider the Competition

Who are your competitors, and when are they conducting their advertising campaigns? This question is important to answer when deciding the best time to start placing your ads. If your competitors are placing their ads early, then you may want to consider placing yours after theirs, so your store appears as an attractive option for customers. Understanding your competitors can give you an edge in the race for holiday shoppers.

Of course, this can be risky – you have no idea how your competitors are getting their intelligence.

4.    Maximize Exposure

When conducting an advertising campaign, you may want to consider staggering your ads so they can increase visibility as much as possible.

For example, stores can use Twitter or other social marketing platforms to send out updates to customers about upcoming deals. By constantly reminding customers about sales, your ads will be on their mind when they start to shop for the holidays.

5.    Maintain a Balance

On the other hand, it is important to stay away from bombarding your customers. If you constantly foist upon your audience ad after ad, then you risk alienating your customers. Instead, using a few, well-placed ads that clearly convey details and purpose will allow your customers to come to you.

The holiday season is a hectic time for any store. However, store owners must make sure they don’t neglect their holiday advertising campaigns. By understanding when to start advertising, retailers can ensure that they draw in seasonal shoppers, maximizing their profits for a nice end-of-the-year finish.

Image courtesy of emdot.

Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from social media to corporate credit cards. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including business credit card applications to small businesses and entrepreneurs; the leading B2B Directory, Business.com.

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