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For Marketers the Holidays Always Come Early
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By Mark Kolier

Summer is my favorite season. Vacations, long days and warm nights always make me happy and the subsequent memories sustain me (and my fellow Northeasterners) during the cold and dark winters. It is so tempting to turn off not only the Blackberry, but your attention to marketing, with the idea that, “Nobody does anything until after Labor Day anyway.” While there is some benefit to that notion, turning off and tuning out can also put your business on the fast track to a disappointing holiday season. Here are a few things to keep in mind while contemplating those (in the words of the great Nat King Cole) lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer:

• In the retail sector nearly 20 percent of all sales take place during the holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). This year the season runs from November 23rd through December 26th.

• On-line spending is increasing at an accelerated pace every year. During the first 56 days of the 2006 holiday season, total online retail spending reached $23.11 billion, marking a 26-percent increase versus the corresponding days in 2005 according to ComScore.

• My own observations of online sales shows that these customers are driven by discounts and savings with “saving time” and “free shipping” coming in a close second and third.

So being ready for the holiday season is important – anyone can understand that. But being ready to hit the ground running when everyone is back from vacation after Labor Day requires advanced planning. In the catalog world, holiday catalogs will begin to pile up in your mailbox in early October. You can be sure that marketers were discussing those plans well before Memorial Day!

If you have not made any significant plans to market your product or services for the upcoming holiday season, here are several things you can do to be ready for action:

1) Optimize your website. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the most effective way to market your product or service on the Internet. SEO inspires organic search which is the way your listing can reach the first page of the big search engines like Google and Yahoo. Educate yourself if you are not aware. Paid search (pay-per-click) and sponsored listings are not nearly as effective.

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Mark Kolier is the President and Founder of CGSM.
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