Capitalize on holidays with online promotions


The winter holiday season is not the only time that lends itself well to running holiday-themed promotions. There are many opportunities throughout the year to use holiday-centered promotions – such as photo contests, sweepstakes, deals stores and more – to drive revenue and build email databases.

Matt Coen

For example, Mother's Day is just around the corner and is a fantastic vehicle for running themed promotions. In that regard, we recently held a webinar on how to sell Mother's Day promotions that you can access at

Below, we've laid out a five-step game plan for how to execute successful holiday-themed promotions that you can apply to every occasion throughout the year. While any holiday is fair game for a themed promotion, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Halloween and Valentine's Day should definitely be on your list.

  • Build a Promotions Calendar. A promotions calendar will enable your team to stay ahead of the curve all year. Start by identifying holidays that will lend themselves well to promotions in your market. In addition to the examples mentioned above, think about the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and any other occasion that is a big draw in your community.

Laying out a calendar on the front end will save you from the last-minute scramble to put together a promotion for a fast-approaching holiday. Advanced preparation will also enable you to contact target advertisers BEFORE they set their marketing budgets for the year.

Lastly, planning ahead will give you the chance to establish benchmarks for key indicators such as revenue, web traffic and social engagement, to enhance the future success of your program.

  • Make New Friends and Keep the Old. Holiday promotions are an opportunity to form relationships with new advertising partners that might not have considered your property in the past. In addition to your established partners, be sure to approach new prospects whose products or services go hand-in-hand with the theme of the promotion. For example, if you are planning a Mother's Day promotion, target bed & breakfasts, restaurants, jewelry stores, florists, and so on, even if you have not previously worked together in the past.
  • Deliver Results with Deals Stores. Deals stores are a fantastic way to drive incremental revenue around a given theme and holidays are a perfect opportunity to launch a deals store (see case study No. 1). Consider a Valentine's Day deals store. This store could be filled with deals from advertisers such as florists, jewelry stores and restaurants. A Father's Day store could have a mix of golf deals, restaurants, sports and event tickets, and more. Don't forget to offer deal credits to incentivize your audience to buy.
  • Take Advantage of Holiday Contests. Holiday-themed contests consistently generate some of the most robust results across our network of hundreds of newspapers. From "Cutest Couple" Valentine's Day photo contests, to Christmas shopping sweepstakes, and "My Mom's the Best" essay contests for Mother's Day, holiday contests are big opportunities for engagement. Sweepstakes in particular are great database builders and can be used to strengthen your email list in advance of running a deals store.
  • Use Your Promotional Channels. As we've said before, one of newspapers' greatest strengths is their ability to promote their promotions across different channels – such as print, online, mobile, social media and email. No other marketing options can deliver the promotional reach newspapers can at a comparable price point. Mobilizing your communications channels in support of a holiday contest or store will enable you to increase advertisers' exposure to your readers and create more valuable sponsorship packages.

While holiday promotions have been around for a long time, audiences remain eager to participate in them and advancements in technology make these programs easier to execute than ever before. Capitalizing on holiday promotions should be a resolution for newspapers large and small throughout 2013.

Matt Coen is the president and co-founder of Second Street, a leading provider of private-label online promotions platforms and partner success services for media companies based in St. Louis, Mo. He can be reached at (314) 880-4902 or

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