It always feels like a bit of a jumpscare, doesn’t it? You walk into a store — grocery, clothing, or otherwise — and they’ve already got displays up for the next big thing on the calendar. Swimsuits go up in February, Back to School sales start in July, and the skeleton of the Christmas display begins to take shape on October 29th. It often feels way too early for a lot of these things to be on sale, but we buy them anyway and wouldn't you know it, they’re ready when the occasion arrives.

As annoying as it can be to be reminded of how quickly time passes when you’re just trying to buy eggs, stores have the timing of these seasonal displays down to a science. And from a marketing perspective, there’s a lot to be learned from it. 

A dream within a dream

Whether it’s a conference, an annual event, a new seasonal campaign, or an end of year giving initiative, most businesses have something recurring on their yearly calendars that requires planning. It doesn’t matter if what you need is a simple social media plan, or an all-bases-covered, easy to deploy marketing strategy complete with branded company swag. The sooner you start thinking about it, the easier it will be to plan. With this approach, your intended audience should receive your messaging long before they’ve thought about it themselves. Have you ever seen Inception? Same idea.

Urgency is expensive

You know that phrase “a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part”? It’s the last thing you want to hear on a tight deadline. If you wait until the last minute to place an order, buy ad space, or begin printing materials, you are then in competition with everyone else who’s trying to get their stuff out at the exact same time as you, and it will take longer for you to get what you’ve asked for. Not only that, rush jobs aren’t cheap, and you risk losing the valuable time needed for revisions and tweaks to make sure everything matches your original vision to a T. 

Have yourself a merry little Christmas 

Very few people intend to wait until the last minute to get the ball rolling, but even with the best of intentions, it can happen anyway because it’s so easy to do. It’s much harder to find the steam to begin planning for something months in advance, but it will never not be worth it to start planning now. Sketch out your ideal timeline to get things done starting with the end date, identify what it is you want to produce, and get a meeting on the books with your favorite consultants (whoever they might be, we aren’t making assumptions). 

Until you get used to operating like this, it will feel like a hassle to be thinking about Christmas in July. However, once your company’s annual thing is mere days away, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing your end product is exactly what you wanted it to be and you’ve still got your sanity intact. So get started on those holiday marketing plans, friends — it's almost July!