As summer draws to a close and with the fourth quarter and holiday season fast approaching, small businesses are already beginning to conceive and plan out their holiday marketing. For many businesses, especially retailers, this relatively short but crucial period dominates one of the most important and potentially lucrative quarters of the year. With little to no professional guidance, a limited budget, and fewer resources than larger competitors, most businesses simply can’t afford to make a marketing misstep.

Striking The Right Balance With Your Holiday Marketing

On top of the economic pressures that entrepreneurs and small business managers face to survive and hopefully excel during this period, the delicate nature of properly and respectfully advertising during the holiday season can add an additional layer of stress. How difficult is it to either strike the right balance between tradition and standing apart from the crowd or to aggressively market your business without alienating your customers, especially established customers?

Generic Messaging vs. Unique Messaging

At first glance, many entrepreneurs and small business owners may believe that holiday marketing is simple and straightforward. It may seem like some businesses simply throw in some traditional imagery of the holiday season, warmly wish their customers a “Happy Holidays”, and price their products and services aggressively enough to gain an edge on their competitors. However, depending on your customer base, market, and industry, a half-hearted or “by the books” holiday marketing plan may not be enough to stand apart from your competitors and may ward away holiday shoppers who are turned off by a generic or boring message. At the same time, attempting to develop an innovative or exciting holiday marketing plan may be just as detrimental in other ways. Shoppers who are seeking a warm, comforting, and traditional holiday experience may be alienated or even offended by a holiday marketing plan that is too aggressive or unique.

Your Marketing Depends On Your Industry

Where your small business falls on the spectrum between traditional and innovative marketing largely depends on your industry and the type of products and services you offer. For instance, a grocery store or bakery will likely sell more traditional food items during the holiday season, and their marketing should therefore fall more toward the traditional end of the spectrum. On the other hand, a trendy clothing boutique or a business selling nontraditional products and services will want to do the opposite.

Don’t Alienate Your Existing Customers

In order to survive and even thrive during the holiday season, small businesses must strike a balance between attracting as many new customers as possible while nurturing existing customer relationships. This means that your holiday message will have to appeal to both groups of customers without alienating one or the other. Luckily, it is a safe bet that your regular customers already provide a good approximation of your target market, making it a bad idea to radically change your marketing in an attempt in an attempt to appeal to a different group or market. Your loyal, repeat customers are just that, and their continued loyalty is vitally important to the ongoing viability of your business. At the same time, while your repeat customers are the lifeline of your business, it is a bad idea to reach out and attempt to market too much to them during the holidays. Fight the impulse or temptation to send too many marketing emails or to blanket your local market with too much advertising. You can risk inundating your existing customers with too many marketing messages and eventually alienate them.