One of the busiest times of year for many small businesses is the fourth quarter. Retailers, restaurants, and many service businesses—from tax preparers to hair stylists—find their calendars are packed.
Because of this, it’s easy for small business owners to concentrate on the steady flow (or rapid gush) of customers coming in and neglect marketing. Business owners assume they don’t have time and that they will worry about media pitches and advertising later. However, this is one of the best periods for landing “earned media”—articles in publications and television spots that you don’t have to pay for like with an ad. Here’s why there are so many media opportunities during the holiday season.
The holiday season is getting longer and more diverse
In the past the holiday season typically was defined as the timespan between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, including Christmas, Hannukah and Kwanzaa. But in our multicultural nation, people also celebrate the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, Mexican Independence Day, National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15–Oct. 15), the Indian holiday of Diwali, Day of the Dead and others.
The media starts looking for ideas as early as August for the start of football season, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Halloween, and even simply the onset of autumn and all of the flavors and spices it brings, the change of clothing and home decor, and more.
Any of these things can be used as a springboard for promotions, within reason and keeping cultural significance in mind. For example, one local restaurant chain owned by a family of Mexican heritage offers discounted party platters for Mexican Independence Day. An independent coffee shop promoted its fall coffee flavors involving cider and miso—a refreshing change from the “everything pumpkin” barrage the media usually gets.
Do you have a downtown Phoenix business? Promote a “Pride Special” during parade weekend in October. Or offer a discount to anyone wearing a costume on Halloween.
Working with a team of seasoned professionals who have experience in both the media and marketing can help you hone your message and land valuable coverage.
The media cycle never stops
Another reason for reaching out for coverage at this time is that the media operates 365 days a year. Many reporters frantically are trying to locate sources to interview, only to be told, “Everyone is busy/on vacation—it’s the holidays!”
No one’s asking you to interrupt your Thanksgiving dinner to do a live TV shoot. Most news outlets have a very basic skeleton staff on duty on big government holidays. But if you can be available briefly for a phone call during the months of November or December, chances are good you’ll be rewarded with earned media.
What about social media?
Keeping active on social media during this time of year is especially important. Many people are online checking accounts to stay in touch with friends and family, or they’re in an airport waiting for a flight, or perhaps sitting on the sofa browsing apps as the football game plays as background noise.
Now is the ideal time to touch base with your customers to let them know they’re important and valued. “Happy Holidays” messages are sweet but making them relevant, appealing and shareable is a must.
Also remind your customers that if they’re busy now, you’ll be there for them later. Offer a coupon or discount that’s good into next year, such as a gift card with a bonus card that’s good starting in January.
Make sure you stay active with regular posts at least a few times a week, but daily is ideal. When someone accesses your account and sees nothing new for weeks on end, it damages your credibility and makes customers wonder if you are paying attention to them and their needs.
Another tip: Check messages on all your platforms at least daily, preferably more. If someone sends a question and doesn’t hear back in a timely manner, chances are they’ll move on to a competitor who responds promptly.
We know it’s tough to take time out of your hectic day to put up social posts, which is why AZ Media Maven exists. We’ve been helping small businesses stay on top of social media and other marketing for a decade now, so please schedule a meeting with us to discuss your needs.
AZ Media Maven is based in Laveen, AZ, a suburban village in the greater Phoenix area. Owner Rose Tring has more than 30 years of journalism experience as an editor and writer, many in business news. She created AZ Media Maven in 2012 to serve other business owners in learning how to best use social media and to provide affordable public relations services. Reach AZ Media Maven at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (602) 373-8371.