Holiday season is tough and scary for most small business owners: There’s too much going on, too many offers to compete with and too much to keep in mind. You need to come up with effective special offers, time everything efficiently and keep everything working smoothly under hopefully increased traffic and conversions coming. There’s no way to avoid the holiday marketing stress unless you don’t want more sales but there’s a way to get ready for the season: You need to de-clutter your business now! Here’s how: #1. Work on Your Holiday Marketing Roadmap I am a control freak: I create a marketing roadmap for 6 months ahead including what I am going to do over the holidays and industry events to catch people’s attention at the right moment. I start with roadmaps rather than detailed editorial calendars because editorial calendars can be overwhelming: You have to include every single date and time for everything you and your team are going to do (including tweets, social media advertising campaigns, in-team announcements, etc.). Roadmaps skip minor details but keep you highly organized which makes them perfect tools for holiday marketing campaigns. They also help you find unique angles for your marketing efforts tying several events together, for example, here I am combining New Year’s theme (New Year’s resolutions) with Community Manager Appreciation Day (outreach to influential community managers) If I had started with putting together an editorial calendar, I would have probably missed the connection and failed to achieve two aims at once (i.e. timing my content to New Year’s Eve and my outreach to a less obvious professional marketing holiday). I use Google Spreadsheets to create my roadmaps and you can download my free template here. Read more about my process here. While working on your roadmap, keep in mind your past campaigns and lessons you have learned. One of the most valuable things you can do is look at data from past holiday seasons and figure out the trends. This can be done both in store and online, as you look at what times were busiest, what kind of products were most common, etc. You can also see where the most clicks were coming from on ads which will give you a blueprint moving forward. Google Analytics is a great tool to check here because it allows to choose any date frame for you to look closer at your past holiday landing page performance: #2. Reduce Clutter Where Possible Holiday season is overwhelming for any business, big or small, but small businesses suffer the most. The task to maintain family-work business is especially challenging over the holidays because that’s when you seem to be unable to neglect either of those. You need to keep working to afford celebrating and you need to find time for your kids to build up their holiday memories at the same time. The answer to this is: De-clutter if you haven’t yet. Find what can be organized, scaled or delegated and do it now. If you have been putting the task aside for months, this is time to get started. We still have a few weeks before we really start feeling the upcoming holidays, so just do it. Adopt the “less is more” attitude: Are there weekly tasks that you have to do but they don’t seem to improve your bottom line? Either cancel or delegate. Free up your calendar as much as you can. Unsubscripted from most of your newsletters (and move the rest to a separate email address). Most of people’s inboxes are too cluttered by now. You get subscribed to anything these days: Online shopping, industry events, etc., everything puts you on various email lists and those get piled. So start by removing those: It will only get worse over the holiday season. Unroll.me is a great tool to use for that. Go paperless: It’s easier to manage (through automated reminders and notifications), you save time on printing and mailing, correcting mistakes is easier and faster. As a bonus, you suddenly have a new opportunity to make the case of: Announce your business going paperless in your next PR issue, via social media and email newsletter to get your influencers and customers excited. Keep Solid Sign is a free platform that will help you move your paperwork online. It’s secure, currently costs nothing and gives you all the tools you need including alerts, easy sharing, and collaboration. #3. Mind Map and Group Your Keywords Holiday season is when most businesses put together loads of more content: Holiday guides, roundups, gift ideas, product bundles, holiday offer landing pages, etc. Hence it’s the time many of us take another look at our keyword lists. And don’t get me started on how cluttered those keyword lists can be: Every little phrase variation is a new keyword set, so you have to look through hundreds and thousands of word lists to come up with something fresh for your holidays. So before you spend weeks trying to make sense of your keyword lists, try a mind map approach. Don’t use any tools at this point: Start by putting your niche concepts on a piece of paper and thinking how they are connected. I talked about mapping your keywords seven years ago and then again four years ago and I am still a huge advocate of using the tactic to avoid getting overwhelmed. Get your team on board for them to contribute more concepts and find more connections. From there, look at your keywords around each concept but try to focus on grouping those keywords instead of looking at each one separately. Serpstat is a cool tool to use for that. They have launched keyword clustering feature that groups your enormous keyword lists into groups based on relevancy, so you can take each group and build your content around it instead of targeting a separate keyword individually which is much more work: #4. Organize Your Visuals I am sure you create lots of visuals for your online marketing. These days we have lots of channels that cannot exist without visual marketing: Visual social media marketing sites (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest) On-site and guest blogging (No article will catch anyone’s attention unless there are effective visuals featured) Promo materials (On-site offers: Coupons, discounts, etc.) In fact, any holiday marketing campaign is unthinkable without visuals. You may have created great visuals for the past holiday season and you will absolutely need visuals for your next one. So get organized now: Keep your holiday marketing visuals in a separate folder, preferably making sure you can customize them easily foe new dates, new offers and maybe new branding. Bannersnack is the tool that can make it happen for you. It’s a powerful online image editing tool allowing you to create banners and social media visuals from scratch, organize them in folders and even edit a bunch of them at a time which saves lots of time. You can also add your team members to manage, design and edit any of the folders. The tool keeps any visual marketing campaign clutter-free and very well organized. #5. Organize Your Contacts Holiday marketing often involves influencer marketing: To spread your word, you reach out to niche influencers in an effort to spread your offers further and get them take part in your holiday contests. So to get this job easier, start organizing your contacts now. Again, Google Spreadsheets is the easiest way to go. I put all the contact details there, notes and ideas for future campaigns. I use Cyfe to bring a lot of spreadsheets together within one marketing dashboard and include other important widgets in the mix (including Twitter mentions and my Gmail inbox) There are also several WordPress plugins that you can use to create a similar marketing dashboard right within your WordPress backend. You can use those plugins to import your spreadsheets into your blog and keep them updated. There are many solid social media management tools that you can use to organize your connections which give you less control than Google Spreadsheets but save time. Holiday marketing is some of the most complicated because it is time sensitive, and relies too heavily on one goal: to get people to spend. What we should be trying to do is turn it into a potential engagement tool that reinforces the relationship with our audience we already had, to would have built any other time of year. De-clutter your business in time for the holiday season to get more productive and maintain work-life balance! Please share more tips on how to keep your business clutter-free!