In our previous blog post, we discussed a number of effective ways to prepare your small business marketing for the holiday season and the fourth quarter. For many entrepreneurs and small business managers, both the holiday season and the end of the year can be a stressful and unforgiving time. For retailers, the success or failure of a holiday shopping season can even determine the ongoing financial viability of the business itself. With this level of pressure facing many small businesses, it is no surprise that stress may influence important decisions, such as the direction of branding, marketing, and advertising initiatives. Yet making rash or misguided decisions regarding your branding or marketing, and especially failing to adhere to your branding identity, can backfire and may even be disastrous.

Losing Sight Of The Big Picture

Here on our blog, we often discuss the advantages and disadvantages that both large corporations and small businesses have when competing in an otherwise level and fair marketplace. When it comes to branding, marketing, and advertising, large corporations seem to have all of the advantages – a well-established brand and portfolio of products and services, vast resources, and teams of marketing experts. Small businesses, on the other hand, have one significant advantage: branding, advertising, and marketing initiatives can be created, altered, or redirected relatively quickly, providing small businesses with a chance to pull ahead before their larger competitors have a chance to react. However, this advantage is a “double-edged sword” in that having no layers of oversight or review, in addition to added pressures and stresses, can lead to hastily- and often poorly-conceived plans and decisions. These plans are often immediately launched and implemented, especially if an entrepreneur or small business owner is lacking the necessary data, insight, or guidance to grasp the larger picture.

Don’t Damage Your Brand

It is understandable if you believe that your current branding, marketing, and advertising initiatives can and should be improved before entering the fourth quarter. It is also understandable if you want to create a more powerful or noticeable marketing campaign to stand out from the crowd during this busy seasons. That being said, it is generally not a good idea to make sudden and/or radical changes to your branding or marketing without consulting a professional, even if you believe your current initiatives are stagnating or even failing. It is an even worse idea to launch a radical or unorthodox marketing or advertising intuitive that may upend and damage your existing brand, customer relationships, and reputation in your industry.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

A common source of pressure facing many entrepreneurs and small business managers during the fourth quarter is a feeling of insecurity, especially when competing with larger businesses. If you are a retailer going head-to-head with giants such as Amazon or Walmart, you may feel the need to ramp up your marketing and advertising efforts to a high degree. This can include early discounts and sales or an increase in email and social media marketing, but both can backfire. You likely have a number of loyal customers, and other shoppers may want to frequent your business for personal reasons, including a desire to support small and local businesses. Discounting your products and services frequently in the fourth quarter may increase sales, but it can also seriously undercut the profitability of your business. Plus an overeager or overtly-intrusive marketing campaign can backfire and drive away customers. For example, increasing the rate of marketing emails during the run-up to the holiday season can sound like a good idea at first, but if your existing customers find an increase in marketing emails annoying, they can unsubscribe from your mailing list and cut themselves off from further marketing opportunities.