Seasonal marketing for retail: How to maximize sales

Understanding how to make the most of calendar events with the right approach to seasonal marketing is a fundamental way to set your retail operation apart from the competition. Here’s how to get it right.

With Black Friday recently wrapped up, the silly season is well and truly upon us. Christmas shoppers are out in force, and retailers across Australia and New Zealand will no doubt be putting their final touches on their seasonal marketing efforts to maximize their sales and marketing activities.

But the holiday trade period isn’t the only promotional pillar in the retail calendar and seasonality can mean very different things to different businesses according to their location, the cultures they’re embedded within and the type of products they offer.

So before you start planning out your promotional calendar for 2023 and beyond, read on for guidance on how you can get the most bang for your buck from your peak trade periods.


What is seasonal marketing?


Seasonal marketing refers to marketing your goods or services at times when demand peaks (or, in some cases, finding ways to generate activity when demand is traditionally low).

Essentially, seasonality in marketing about pinpointing specific dates throughout the year and looking at how to capitalize on them.

Too often, businesses overlook the importance of seasonal marketing. But by rolling out the red carpet to make sure customers have every reason to spend with you — whether in-store or online — you can capitalize on certain times of the year and enjoy the additional revenue into your business.

And, there’s good reason for doing so, with seasonal promotions offering retailers, hospitality businesses and many more multiple clear benefits when done well.


Key benefits of seasonal marketing


  • Boost awareness of your offering at a relevant time of year
  • Increase online and in-store traffic
  • Convert new customers and enhance customer loyalty
  • Improve stock turnover
  • Increase profit margins

Seasonal marketing gives retailers the ability to connect with existing customers and entice new ones at a time when they’re most likely to buy.

So how do you go about planning a truly effective campaign that gets more products into the hands of more customers?


How to create a seasonal marketing campaign


1. Get out the calendar

Start by marketing some of the key times of the year that are most relevant to your business. If you run a gift store, for example, then Christmas is going to be a cracker of a time to up your game about now with some specific marketing initiatives.

2. Plan ahead

For the best results, get your ducks lined up nice and early. Decide how much time and effort you’re going to put into each seasonal marketing effort, how long it will run and what the offers will look like.

3. Build an email list

Building a relevant email list is an important element of marketing all year round. But for specific seasonal marketing campaigns, increase traffic by tagging and segmenting any more recent sign-ups.

4. Stock up

There’s nothing worse for shoppers than to head into a store to pick up a highly publicized item in a sale, only to realize it’s already sold out.

Make sure you have enough stock in place so there’s no disappointment through inventory forecasting and management.

5. Set the strategy

Decide what your offer will look like during this period. Are you going to offer discounts only? Or might special deals on bulk purchases, for example, work well? Lucky dip door prizes and online exclusives may also form part of your strategy, or you might prefer to throw in free delivery.

6. Pick your channels

You need to decide how you’re going to communicate this offer, so figure out how your marketing will be rolled out and plan your social media ahead of time to create a buzz.

Be sure to promote seasonal product categories in your marketing efforts. You might want to build anticipation by adding a countdown timer to your shop window or your website.


Best practice tips for seasonal marketing performance


Keep it simple

While it will take some planning, try and keep the marketing communication itself simple and concise.

Know your audience

This campaign doesn’t have to be for everyone, so decide if building a niche list could work best.

You could also segment the marketing efforts by age group or behavioral traits to increase the relevance and appeal.

Look for feedback

Gauge from your customers whether the marketing efforts have been appreciated. Look out for comments on social media and ask their thoughts when they’re in store.

Be authentic

Don’t be tempted to copy a campaign that your competitors have run.

Decide what works for you and stick with something that aligns with your branding and audience.

Track earnings, costs, inventory and traffic

The best way to know if it’s been worthwhile is to understand all the numbers associated with your marketing activity.

Understanding what you spent and how much that investment delivered will help inform next year’s plans.

Likewise, any data regarding stock turnover, popular products and how many in-store versus online prospects and customers will likely offer further insights.


Examples of seasonal marketing campaigns


Not Socks’ #NZSecretSanta

What began as a fun idea on Twitter and taken over by NZ Post in 2017, New Zealand has a nationwide game of Secret Santa that creates engagement with brands as well as plenty of conversation in social media. The campaign was taken over by gifting retailer Not Socks in 2019.

Myer Christmas windows

Perhaps one of the best examples of a winning seasonal marketing campaign is the annual Myer Christmas windows displaywhich brings foot traffic into the CBD and into Myer stores every year, boosting store revenues.

The Warehouse’s Red Rabbit

For several years, NZ retailer The Warehouse has used a character called Red Rabbit to be the face of its Easter marketing efforts. Not only does Red Rabbit appear prominently in the brand’s TV commercials at that time of year, it’s also integrated into in-store displays, giving customers a visual cue to interact with.

Darrell Lea’s chocolate bilbies

Darrell Lea started an Easter campaign with a milk chocolate bilbywhich stole a significant market share away from the traditional bunny Easter purchase.

The move effectively ‘Australianised’ Easter and shored up significant sales for the brand. What’s more, it helped raise money for the Save the Bilby fund, which supports a national breeding program for the endangered species.

Roses Only Valentine’s Day

Nothing says I love you quite like a single boxed rose delivered on Valentine’s Day, and that’s what Roses Only has become famous for.

Customers can order online and have a rose delivered in a beautifully packaged box. The gesture has become synonymous with the Roses Only brand.

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Give your business the gift of foresight this year


If you’re operating a product business, you’ll already understand how important it is to be able to easily keep track of your stock.

During peak periods, you also need to plan ahead and forecast the volume of products you think you’ll need in a bid to minimize costs associated with overstocked items or stockouts — and this requires clear data insights.

Deliver more effective marketing campaigns at any time of the year with better data.

To achieve this, be sure to use an inventory management system that integrates with financial reports and analytics, so you have up-to-date accurate inventory data at every moment.

Take stock of your inventory with MYOB Business. Learn more about Premium Inventory for Australian retailers here. New Zealand based retailers can find out more here.

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