Holiday Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in 2019

To say the holidays are an important time of year for B2C brands is a significant understatement. Holiday sales alone can often be the difference-maker between an outstanding year and a ho-hum year. We asked a handful of PR professionals to share common mistakes they see brands make year after year. Here’s what they had to say:

Not optimizing for mobile. In the past year alone, mobile sales accounted for nearly 40% of US e-commerce sales. Not to mention, mobile devices were responsible for 54% of all 2018 retail visits on Cyber Monday. Marketing in a world where devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Echo Dot can essentially shop for you requires change. Brands need to be able (and willing) to adapt their traditional marketing methods in order to survive.” 

Haley King / Weber Shandwick 


“Poor planning. The mistakes made around this time are numerable, but many center around common themes: lack of preparedness and blandness. Don’t wait until the last minute to plan and execute, as it often forces you to cut corners and is increasingly difficult as the holiday season moves earlier and earlier. Plan ahead as far as possible, so as to squeeze every last ounce of value out of that plan. And if you’re going to execute, say something different (but on brand). The landscape is more cluttered, and the media far fewer (sadly). Jumping on the same news hook, playing it too straight are recipes for getting lost in the shuffle.”

Todd Graff / CTP 


Lacking authenticity. The end-of-year holidays are a critical sales push for many consumer brands, and PR should align tightly with other marketing efforts to ensure a shared focus and efficiency of message. But it isn’t the time to try something new re: influencer relations. Partnerships and sponsorships with social personalities, creators and tastemakers should be developed and nurtured throughout the year to ensure authenticity. Otherwise, followers and consumers are less likely to trust a one-off recommendation or faux endorsement. Start planning and budgeting now for a yearlong influencer program, so you’re ready for the next holiday season. As the Chipmunks sing, ‘Christmas, don’t be late!’”

Kelly O’Brien / March Communications


Not setting a strategy in advance. This means getting all the pieces of an integrated marketing plan in place long before the holiday season hits. Identify your social media influencers and get contracts settled and squared away. Set up your promo codes and get tracking parameters in place. Outline your content calendar and get your creative team to work on the holiday materials long before you need them. Because holiday shopping can account for up to 30% of total sales for the year for some retailers, don’t let the myriad of small scale marketing efforts fall off. Start early for the moving pieces to leave room for the best practices in email outreach.”

Amanda Fountain / March Communications 


Being predictable. A common PR mistake made around the holidays follows the same rule of thumb applied to the definition of insanity, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Not every company, product or client fits the same mold – holiday list roundups, end of year reflections and New Year projections. I’ve seen these played out and fall flat over too many different verticals and industries. Try asking yourself these questions to help break the cycle: What does the holiday season mean to your company? Does user behavior change around the season? Is what we’ve done historically making an impact?”

Sarah Wheble / Formlabs