5 Tips for Surviving the Holiday Season
Well, it’s past that time of year again. Yes, past. Many companies start planning for the holiday season back in March, so if you’re just starting now…..hurry. Even if you’ve started, begin thinking now about what you can do to juice things up, and survive the holiday rush. Because let’s all admit it, volume will go up and consumers will go crazy. How do you be a hero, try something new and survive the hectic holiday period? Let’s take a look at the things you can do to save yourself and your team.
Develop emergency templates – We’ve all been there. There’s a last minute request for an email campaign and the requestor wants to insert their “creative vision” which ends up wasting time in a rush. One of the ways to solve this is to develop a template that has very tight restrictions. That “IF” someone needs a last minute campaign, then can supply assets as simple as a picture, headline, body copy, CTA and price (and the URL it should link to). Take it up a notch, and develop a form that they can fill out, and promise that under strict guidelines, it’s possible to turn the email campaign around in 48 hours. But any deviation will take longer. Then, allocate a number of these campaigns per week. This way, you give them what you want, and if there are more requests than spots, have the requestor negotiate with the others in line. Make them fight your battle.
Screaming down the hall moments – I used to use this term to describe the person that would call me and say “We have to send out another email because [INSERT LIFE CHANGING RATIONALE HERE]”. How do you prevent these moments? Build a Gantt chart that lists all the emails that you’re planning to send, what’s going to be featured, and the volume of the campaign (along with any segmentation). From there, start now to publicize this plan as the holiday email bible. Along with your “emergency templates”, this can help you pre-sell the conditions for sending last-minute campaigns (before the world explodes).
Get your boss on board – OK, the last line of defense is your boss and he/she is balancing political games, corporate team spirit and reaching goals. Your job (if you’re willing to accept it) is to provide him/her with the solution to an ongoing problem. Put together your plan and get him/her on board to show how this solves a problem, and be ready with the answers to your particular political atmosphere and temperament. If you can get your boss on board, you can win.
Create buffers for your time – OK, we’ve all had those moments when we’ve fought against a request because it’s crazy, we’re stretched too thin, or it’s just plain stupid. We all hate to lose, but during the holiday time, you’re going to you’re going to have last minute requests that have to be done. Be ready for it and create some bandwidth, just like Mr. Scott on Star Trek. The time it took him to fix something was always less than he stated and he looked like a hero. Do that same thing. Create a buffer of time in your schedule and production so that when you do have requests, you can accommodate them.
Be selfish – Lastly, why should everyone else have all the fun? During the holidays, cadence levels skyrocket and it’s during those times that you should test some of your ideas. Is it a different (or new) segmentation? Maybe you want to try video in Email on Black Friday, or real time content or heck, maybe you want to change the font or images around a bit. Who knows what your wildest email marketing dreams are like, but now is the time to try something new! Trust me, with all the chaos, I doubt many will be against it (unless you blatantly destroy brand standards). If you’re using an agency, reach out to your Account Manager, or key contact, and ask them for ideas. I once did that with OgilvyOne and they came back with some FANTASTIC ideas that we put in place. They were an incredible team who supported my desire to try new things. Lean on your resources! Use this time to really test some amazing things that could seriously move the needle in your program.
Realize though, that this is a fantastic opportunity for you to not only be a hero. The holiday season is a tremendous opportunity and also a tremendously stressful time. Keep your wits about you and realize that there are things you can do to minimize the risk for mistakes and help your company meet your goals.
And remember, it’s just an email. We’re not saving babies or curing cancer….just telling millions of people about a 20% off sale.