Call me a Scrooge, but I don't particularly like Christmas in July. Christmas' retail season has already engulfed Thanksgiving with much of the marketing and programming beginning promptly on November 1st, as soon as Halloween is out of the way; the last thing I want is more of that in the middle of summer.
It can serve as a great reminder to be prepared, though. No matter what line of business you're in, there's a good chance that you could work something holiday related into your marketing, and July is a great time to plan it.
Do You Sell Products?
Sales around the holiday season are usually some of the strongest for most retailers, but today we always expect a deal. Whether you'd be offering a simple discount or a special sale on certain items, you shouldn't be waiting until December to do it.
Do You Sell Services?
For those businesses that are more service-based many of the same rules apply, but the nature of what's being sold can affect things. A simple discount can be appropriate for some, but maybe a free trial is more fitting.
Either Way, Figure it Out Now
Determining sale items, their special pricing, and just how long the sale will last are all important issues that shouldn't be left until the last minute. The sooner you can finalize the details of a sale or promotion the more time you have to plan the actual execution of it.
If you have a brick and mortar store, will you be advertising in the local paper? Should you get window graphics? Surely you'll at least have in store signs to inform customers, right? If you're an online business, how do you plan to drive more traffic to the site? Once the traffic is there, what elements of your site will lead them to the sale section?
Choosing what to put on sale is really the easiest part, it's the marketing that's tough. The longer you put off the former, the weaker the latter will be. With no campaign or proper prep, regular customers may discover that you're having a last minute sale, but isn't the real goal to drive new sales and create new customers? Plan ahead of time so that you can build up some buzz before the sale even starts!
What's In It For You?
Another thing to consider are the requirements. Not every sale requires something in return, but in this digital age it's more common. Is your sale going to be open to members only or the general public? Maybe you could use it as a chance to build your mailing list by requiring an email address. Again, the more time you have to consider and iron out the details before the sale starts, the easier it will be when the time comes to implement.
Do Yourself A Favor
Putting time and effort into a big marketing/sales push only to have it flop can be stressful and demoralizing. Some things just aren't meant to be, but with adequate planning beforehand, you give yourself the chance to weed out those bad ideas and make sure you've done everything in your power to help yourself.
You should always be thinking about what's ahead and planning accordingly to ensure that you can take advantage any opportunities. When it comes to marketing, sales and other similar pushes, doing everything 'right on time' is actually way, way too late.