The holiday season is the best time of the year for many us, myself included. It’s also the busiest for many of us who own or operate a business, specifically consumer facing products. This was my first holiday season as the co-founder and business guy at WishBooklet, a universal wishlist and gift crowdfunding platform all in one. We started WishBooklet to provide an easy way to share the gifts you want with your friends and family and get them to pitch in to get them for you. Think of it as a Kickstarter for gifts.
As you may guess the holiday season is by far our busiest time of the year. Even though you can crowdfund gifts on WishBooklet for any occasion, the concept of crowdfunding gifts is in high demand during the Christmas season. So, this Christmas we helped hundreds of people get exactly what they wanted. As a founder, this is truly a great feeling.
Launching Products During the Holiday Season
I get a great sense of enjoyment knowing people used our product to take some stress out of the holiday season. However, getting hundreds of people to use our platform during the holiday season was no easy task.
We launched our public beta of WishBooklet back in August, just a couple of months before the holiday season. The two months leading up to Christmas I hustled and worked hard on marketing and acquiring users. During this time I got WishBooklet air-time on television, a feature on Mashable, wrote dozens of holiday related guest blog posts, and received media coverage in various web and print publications. Even though I am pleased with the outcome, looking back I realized there were a few things I could have gone about differently. Here are five lessons I learned about hustling and marketing a product during the holiday season.
Start media outreach early.
This is a very important lesson. Believe me when I tell you this, Christmas comes faster than you know. For example, I started marketing WishBooklet for the holidays in November, but didn’t really get into marketing overdrive until after Thanksgiving. The thing I didn’t realize was that to land a feature on a major news publication can take weeks and sometimes over a month. Also you have to realize the holiday season is just as busy for news publications as it is for businesses. Most reporters and writers get completely booked for the rest of the season weeks before Christmas. Thankfully I was able to land features on large publications, such as Mashable, but I believe I would have been able to get much more coverage if I had started pitching reporters in late October versus late November.
Promote a holiday angle.
During the month of December we made sure to use a holiday angle in every advertisement and pitch to publications. News outlets and industry blogs love to write about holiday related stories during the Christmas season. Because of this, I made sure to use a holiday angle when reaching out reporters and writers. As a result, I was able to get featured on more publications in the month of December than all of the other previous months combined. I believe this was due to timing and my pitch. Meanwhile, all of the guest blog posts I wrote in November and December contained a holiday angle (i.e., “Apps that make getting the gifts you want this Christmas easy”). It was really easy to get these guest post published due to the high-demand for holiday related content.
Spend time wisely.
To reiterate my first point, Christmas comes faster than you expect. For this reason you need to be sure to spend your time wisely. This point holds most true with early-stage startups with just a few co-founders. As a co-founder of an early stage start-up you wear many hats. As a CEO or non technical co-founder these hats including marketing, PR, fundraising, etc. During the month of December I put all my efforts and towards marketing and PR. The holiday season is the most prosperous time for e-commerce and retail sites, so I made sure to take full advantage of the season. I pushed all the non-sensitive task to the first quarter of 2014.
Offer holiday specials and giveaways.
Don’t be afraid to offer potential customers some really good specials or giveaways that you would normally shy away from. With that being said make sure they are feasible and won’t negatively affect your bottom line. During the busy holiday season you can get away with offering some really great specials due to economies of scale. For example, we offered a special during December where we would pitch in $5 to every user’s wishlist who shared their wishlist on Twitter or Facebook, using the hashtag #wishbooklet. We spent a good amount of money during this promotion, but it was money well spent.
Do something for others.
Our application helped people get exactly what they wanted this Christmas. If there was one thing I could have done differently this holiday season it would have been to really help those in need. Two weeks before Christmas I came up with the idea to find a special family in need and have them create a wishlist which we would donate a $1 for every user we would get leading up to Christmas. Unfortunately, we came up this idea to late and we didn’t have enough time and PR to put this in motion successfully. We’d like to start doing something like this for children in need for their over the next couple of months. It’s important to remember the reason for the season.
All in all it was a great holiday season for me business and personal wise. We had many small wins over the holiday season and removed some of the stress of the holidays for a lot of people. I learned many business lessons that I’ll be sure apply to next year’s holiday season’s hustle and bustle. Just remember the most important things in life can’t be wrapped.
Eric Santos is a blogger, social media guru, and entrepreneur. Eric is the co-founder and Business Guy at WishBooklet, a gift crowdfunding web-app that makes getting the gifts you really want easy. Eric is the current CEO of Dwibbles and former founder and CEO of Soshowise Inc. Eric received a B.S in Entrepreneurship from CSUF.