How to Use Holidays to Promote Your Creative Business

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If you’re like a good many creatives, the bulk of your art sales comes at the end of the year, during that magical and often profitable holiday shopping season. Then at the beginning of the year sales dwindle down into your usual pace. In some cases, that may just be a mere trickle that barely keeps your business alive. Or your sales may be mostly fine throughout the year, but there’s always a seasonal slow patch where sales just won’t budge no matter what you do.

Wouldn’t it be nice to just even things out for a change?

One way to even out your sales throughout the rest of the year is to take advantage of the other events and holidays that happen throughout the year. Holidays and events that can help you promote your creative business and keep you in front of past and future customers. Here’s how you can harness the power of holidays and events in your promotions.

Think Beyond Christmas and Hanukkah

Start by thinking past the year end holiday shopping season. What other traditional holidays could you use to promote your work? Valentine’s Day? Mother’s Day? Father’s Day? Grandparents Day? How can you adapt what you do to fit one of these days? If you make pet accessories, could you make themed items for Valentine’s Day? If you make jewelry, how can you adapt your line for Father’s Day? Look for ways to add or adapt your product lines to capture interest during these holidays.

How about non gift-giving holidays and events? Are there ways to tie your work to holidays that aren’t traditionally about gift giving like St. Patrick’s Day, Tax Day, or 4th of July? How about cultural holidays like Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year, or Cinco de Mayo? Or national observances like National Pet Week, National Nurses Day, and Employee Appreciation Day? Consider seasonal events for promotions like “Back to School”, graduation, or the 1st Day of Summer or Spring.

There’s a distinct advantage to creating a promotion around a holiday like National Library Worker’s Day. For one thing, it’s less crowded and noisy. Pretty much everyone is promoting their work around Christmas. There’s fewer people promoting their work during National Tartan Day. Plus you can use unusual holidays to make your promotions more creative and make them fun.

You can pick observances and holidays that closely fit the personality of your business and the interests of your customers. You got a lot of sci-fi fans as customers? How about creating a promotion on Star Wars Day (May 4th) or on Isaac Asimov’s birthday (January 2nd)? If you need some more ideas on some of the more obscure or unusual holidays, there are several websites you can visit. You can literally find a different holiday or observance every day of the year if you wanted.

Don’t forget to consider dates that are important to your business, like your business anniversary, the date of a significant event in your business, or even your own birthday. Celebrating days like these with your customers can make you and your business seem more real. Heck, you can even create your own holiday if you want. Create it, hash tag it, and promote it. Why not? And FYI there is a “Make Up Your Own Holiday” Day (March 26th).

Pick your events

Now that you’re thinking about other holidays, take some time to brainstorm. Think of all the events, observances and holidays that would be a good match for your creative business. Do simply think of promotions. Holidays and observances can also make for great blog and social media content, both of which can also bring more attention to your work. Sometimes publishing a well written blog post that ties your work with a special holiday is really all you need to do instead of a huge sale.

Once you have a list of potential ideas, refine it. Take out a calendar and go through your list. Decide which ones really match your goals, your work and are a good fit for your customers. Take a look at your past sales history. Is there a slow period that your business encounters on a regular basis that could be boosted with a good promotion? Do you have busy periods where you should avoid scheduling a promotion?

Don’t overload your promotional calendar with too many sales and special offers. Remember that you will need preparation time for each promotion, plus you want to take care that you don’t burn out your customer good will with offering a promotion every other week. Look at what you already have on your calendar and make sure that you have the time and budget to carry out your plan. Decide on a maximum number of promotions you’re going to do during the year. You may not need more than one promotion per quarter. Or you may decide to schedule a promotion a month. It all depends on your customers and your goals.

Plan your promotions

Now that you have a good idea of which holidays and observances you want to target, you need to create a plan for your each of your promotions.

Every holiday promotion starts with a good offer. Why is your promotion special and why should your current and potential customers care?While a promotion can be as simple as a offering a time-limited discount code, take the opportunity to be creative. Try not to get into the rut of simply offering a discount. Here’s a few ideas to consider:

  • Introduce a limited edition item
  • Introduce a time limited service (personalization, customization, etc)
  • Hold a flash sale on specific items
  • Sponsor a charity drive
  • Hold a giveaway or contest
  • Co-sponsor a giveaway or contest with another artist
  • Donating a portion of sales to a related charity
  • Offer holiday themed items for a limited time
  • Offer holiday bundles or gift baskets for a limited time
  • Offer special or personalized packaging
  • Offer a special gift with purchase
  • Create a gift guide

Once you come up with your promotion offer, you need to think about how you’re going to get the word out about it. Are you using social media? Writing blog posts? Sending an email to your list? Advertising? Postcards? Sponsorships? Write down all of your ideas on how you’re going to advertise your offer.

Some of your promotions may require you to spend a bit of money, especially if you’re going to be doing some advertising or have to order special materials. Create a promotion budget by listing what you may need to spend money on and how much. Writing a budget during the beginning of planning process will help you keep costs down and keep your promotion from costing more than you earn from it.

Now you’ve decided on what your promotion is, how you’re going to get the word out, and what your budget is, schedule your promotion on your calendar and write out your task list. Remember that some promotions are going to require more lead time than others, especially if you’re doing a group promotion or you’re trying to get sponsorships or advertising, so schedule your time and tasks accordingly.

Holiday_Promotion_Planner_CoverOne tool that I use to help me with my promotion planning is my Holiday Promotion Planner. The planner includes a list of common and uncommon holidays that you can build your marketing and promotion strategy around and a handy worksheet that you can use to build your holiday marketing plans. Subscribers can find it for free in the Creative Business Toolbox. If you’re not a subscriber to the Crafted Webmaster you can sign up for free here.

Holidays and observations beyond the traditional shopping season can be a great inspiration for your next promotion. The key is finding the right holidays and planning. If you would like, please share your holiday promotion stories. What worked for you? What didn’t work? And what plans to you have for the rest of the year? Please share your insights in the comments below.

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