How to prepare for seasonal events throughout the year

A man and woman floating in a hot air balloon as they look out over hot air balloons above the Yarra Valley

Following on from Tips for small businesses to overcome seasonality, let’s look at how to prepare for seasonal events throughout the year. And that involves starting with planning for your next 12-month calendar of events now.

I hear you saying, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing next week, let alone in 12 months’ time’ – and that is exactly why we need to get planning.

If it doesn’t get scheduled, it will never get done

There’s always one musical artist releasing a Christmas album earlier every year, right?

Even if the record company waits to drop a release on 1 November, the audio files were probably sent to the digital distributors at least a month beforehand. Factor in mixing, mastering and artwork, and you’ll probably find that the recording sessions finished way back in the previous year’s winter!

What can a small business learn from the way that a record company manages the timing of its Christmas music releases? For example, if you’re a business that wants to end the year with a bang, you would benefit from planning your festive promotions as if you are a recording artist, even if it’s 12 months prior.

To schedule an effective Christmas, summer or any seasonal event promotion, you first need to set the date that it will all go live and work backward. Giving yourself the gift of planning means you ensure you have all the time you need to stay on target.

Here’s a hint – don’t wait until the spirit of Christmas is upon you and you’re in full-on panic mode!

Christmas isn’t everything!

Your seasonal calendar isn’t all about Christmas, even if that may be the primary sales driver for your company. An example is an eCommerce business that can plan promotions for Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, New Year and even Grand Final Day. What are significant events to prepare and align your sales and marketing activity?

Creating an overarching marketing strategy for all-year-round monthly, quarterly, and yearly promotional events will go a long way to take the strain out of your planning.

Consistent discount code formats, advertising layouts, and common design styles that will reinforce your seasonal activity’s brand identity. Customers may become accustomed to your seasonal adaptability and expect special offers to sweeten deals, look out for emails, or visit your homepage in the lead up to special days.

Since most companies also run promotions on these dates, it will require you to think creatively about your promotions if you are to stand out. A fresh twist on an old idea is usually a winner, so always think about adapting and personalising marketing strategies with a proven success track record while still staying fresh and experimental with different ideas.

Design for your seasons

While in planning mode, if your business has a design department, how about putting them to work on website headers, Facebook Covers and Instagram tiles for your upcoming seasonal campaigns? It may not make sense for every business, but it’s easy to be seduced by a sales pitch dripping with seasonal nostalgia.

If, like many small businesses, you don’t have an in-house designer, there are free creative sites like Canva that can create engaging visual content with customisable templates. Canva is also great for generating social media marketing graphics. And like your SEO, don’t forget those festive hashtags to boost the seasonal traffic.

For example, view over 90 Canva Christmas Facebook Cover templates.

Screenshot showing Christmas-themed Facebook cover templates on Canva

Remember to have fun with your sales ideas because your customers will feel your genuine excitement. The more your commercial audience identifies with your brand, the more loyal they will feel, which is excellent for building brand advocates that spread the good word.

Timing is everything!

Get extra mileage from seasonal campaigns by stretching your promotions over multiple days. It could be the 12 days of Christmas, or even all 25!

Christmas countdown calendars are a great way to release your sales discounts one at a time and keep your customers checking back every day. Throw a mystery freebie in the mix, collaborate with another business or influencer and come up with a giveaway. SO many cost-effective ways you can make a bell jingle that little louder, and your customers may not be able to resist!

You could segue into a New Year sale countdown, promising even deeper discounts to capitalise on that Christmas gift money!

Keep it local

As a small business competing against more prominent online and offline companies, it is up to you to remind your audience and community of the benefits of local shopping.

How about the cheesy Christmas jumper photo of the whole staff, so your customers can get to know you? Emphasising Christmas Eve hours for last-minute shoppers is also an excellent idea because it will be too late to order more gifts online. Some purchases may not have arrived and could require a quick substitute gift.

And don’t forget about your blog and website opportunities. Your business can leverage extra holiday traffic organically with festive-themed articles on your company blog page to boost your ‘findability’ and position on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

Try entertaining your visitors with a hilarious suggestion for using one of your products over the holidays. Educate potential buyers on the benefits of your service with words via a blog, social media posts videos, or all of the above.

Have fun and think outside the gift box

There are many ideas to try out above, so take the ones you think will be well-received and run with them.

Don’t be afraid to try something a little different; just be careful not to pour a big budget into a new idea. Instead, start small and, as positive results roll in, increase your efforts with the avenues that work out best for your business.

Don’t forget to inject all those seasonal keywords, phrases and typefaces that will trigger the warm and fuzzies. Be merry, appropriately humorous and remember to have fun!

Let’s recap and take action

As a small business owner, you might have considered the benefits of Christmas marketing as the most important aspect of staying open over Christmas. But while there is no doubt that Christmas will be an important time in your calendar, it’s worth broadening your seasonal horizons to find opportunities throughout the year.

Become the musical director of your business song by exploring the number of ways you can extend your campaigns to benefit from seasonal or yearly events. By planning ahead and preparing, you can ensure that customers have plenty of reasons to visit you all year round.

Despina Karatzias

Trainer and Assessor | Monarch Institute

Despina is the founder of the Institute of Excellence, Chief Navigator (GM) of Navii Digital and Tourism Tribe and Trainer and Assessor at Monarch Institute.

Best known for her inspired training solutions in customer service, tourism, social media and digital marketing.

She is a Certified Trainer, qualified business coach, author of Adventures of a Balloon Girl and host of the Tourism Hub Podcast.