The holidays can be a critical time for many small businesses. Learn how you can enhance your business's marketing strategy and navigate uncertainty this holiday season.

Brands like Shein and Sephora have found success during the holiday shopping season by “overcommunicating” with customers, testing and doing more with less.

Businesses are currently in the home stretch of holiday planning, but is “back to normal” just around the corner? After all, at this time in 2020 major retailers were already shifting to online shopping, and many had announced store closures on Black Friday months earlier.

So, from a marketing standpoint, could this year’s holiday season be even more unpredictable than the last? There are a number of unique challenges keeping marketers awake at night, ranging from ongoing supply-chain disruption to a rapidly changing digital advertising ecosystem and strapped or shifting resources.

But there still are steps you can take to stay flexible and find success. I partner with businesses to embrace uncertainty every day and here’s what I’ve learned:

1.  (Over)communicate.

Most businesses say they’re customer-centric, but times of unpredictability really put that to the test.

Amid logistics and supply-chain issues, and rapidly evolving customer needs, how have you leveled up your communications efforts? In addition to aiding empathy, technology can help businesses keep customers up-to-date and address their needs efficiently today while building deeper relationships for years to come.

For instance, Sephora, the beauty retailer, found that messaging integrations with Facebook Messenger and Instagram helped it manage a sixfold increase in customer queries. And Shein, a fashion e-commerce platform, saw its customer service response time improve by 73% with the Messenger API for Instagram.

Among people surveyed who message businesses, the majority say being able to message a business helps them feel more confident about the brand.

2.  Test. Nail. Scale.

The digital ads landscape has always been fast-moving. Caught between the recent acceleration of privacy-first advertising, creator commerce and e-commerce growth, marketers are rethinking a decade of best practices. Now is the time to test, re-test and test again to re-evaluate your strategy from end to end.

This not only applies to how or where brands advertise, but also when. For example, advertisers often put down their virtual pencils in “Q5,” the period that falls between Christmas shipping cutoffs and into the New Year. But this is actually one of the biggest opportunities of the year. Purchase intent remains high among many shoppers who are ready to spend store credits and gift cards. In fact, 92% of people surveyed last year planned to continue shopping after the holidays. And during this period, ads tend to be less expensive on both Facebook and Instagram, compared with during peak season.

3.  Do more with less.

It’s hard to know the appropriate tone to strike months or even weeks from now. Internal changes, such as new or leaner teams, may have delayed back-to-office plans, and shifting media budgets are further complicating creative production for many businesses.

Working with external partners can help businesses fill gaps and stay agile. Likewise, new creative approaches could achieve more with less. Across Facebook apps, we have seen some evidence that in certain categories—including e-commerce—creative that speaks the native language of social media is associated with better performance than ads with a high degree of polish.

Indeed, experimenting with what we call “lo-fi” creative can produce impressive results, suggesting that highly produced ads (and correspondingly high price tags) aren’t always essential for success.

How will you adapt to uncertainty this holiday season?

This article was written by Omar Zayat from Ad Age and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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