Now that we are past all the spookiness of Halloween it is time to turn our attention to the final holiday gauntlet to wrap up the year with – possibly even spookier than any ghost or goblin.

If you are one of the many businesses that rely on the holidays for an important portion of the year’s revenue, you know why this can be a scary time of the year. The stress is really on to crush the holidays and crush your holiday marketing.

Time to make sure all your ducks are in a row for the holidays. You really want to get in the habit of starting the planning process during the summer (I know that seems early but it’s not), but it’s better late than never! Start with this checklist of four essential holiday marketing items.

Set Your Budget

With the importance of knocking the holiday season out of the park, you often find many business’ holiday budgets increase. That may or may not be the same for you. Your attitude about the holidays and seasonal objectives will typically dictate your budget for advertising. If your primary goal of the season is simply to remind current or past customers about seasonal or repeat service, your budget may not need to change or increase all that much. If you are planning a new product launch or major promotion, your budget will likely increase quite a bit. Determine your seasonal objectives and what goals you need to meet. This will help you clarify your budget as well.

Get Custom Graphics Ready

Even if you aren’t getting too intense for the holidays, it is always a good idea to have special holiday graphics for social media and email at the ready. They help give your posts and emails a little more festive flair and can help them stand out in the timeline or inbox. Still have graphics from last year? Great – use those! You don’t need to go whole hog and create a new set of graphics each and every year. As long as there are no dates on them, it has been a whole year since you used them last and very few, if any, people are likely to remember.

Plan Holiday Content

Speaking of emails and social media posts, just like your regular content the rest of the year, make sure you map out a calendar for your content. Plan the messaging for your emails now and decide when you want them sent out as well as when to resend or schedule follow-up emails. Assigning dates and times to email marketing efforts around the holidays sets concrete marks that you can build around with other content. Plan a couple of holiday-themed blog posts and get them posted now to capitalize on the SEO value of having keywords being searched. Do the same for your social media, but make sure you plan for some spontaneity too. Leave some gaps for organic posts about holiday parties or just in case someone decides to wear an ugly Christmas sweater into the office.

Update Your Website

If the holiday season is your time to roll out a new product or promotion, your first to-do item needs to be updating your website and creating a custom landing page for the promotion. Your website is your home base for all your marketing efforts (email, social media advertising, blogging, etc) and everything you do this time of year should send people to your website. That’s the place that people will be able to fill out a contact form or get your phone number. Don’t forget about your homepage either. Update a section of your homepage to include a button to link to the promotion or product page for anyone who comes to your site through the homepage.

Learn more about connecting with customers during the holidays. Download our 25 Holiday Marketing Email Tips