The holiday shopping season is one of the marketing world's annual highlights, but for many non-retailers, the last two months of the year are nothing more than business as usual.

Even so, the billions of dollars that retailers pour into marketing during this period can complicate matters for non-retail brands.

How can they market effectively when just about everybody is being bombarded with retail-related campaigns? Here are five tips.

1. Don't sit on the sidelines

The holiday shopping season can be an intimidating time for non-retail marketers tasked with competing for attention as retailers spend billions courting consumers.

Although this might create the temptation to curtail marketing activity, few businesses will benefit from sitting on the sidelines.

Instead, non-retail marketers should embrace the idea that with the right strategy and techniques, it is possible to market effectively during one of the craziest and most competitive times of the year.

2. Pay attention to timing

Timing is everything, and this is particularly true during the holiday shopping season.

While dates like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are arguably less important than they used to be, non-retail marketers should still pay attention to dates that are important to retailers and adjust the timing of their campaigns accordingly.

For example, launching an email campaign around Cyber Monday probably isn't advisable for most non-retail marketers for obvious reasons. 

3. Focus on the content

Cutting through the clutter during the holiday shopping season requires a solid content strategy. There's little room for lackluster creative, and messaging should be strong.

When it comes to messaging, non-retailers need not shun the holiday spirit, but they should give consideration to how they can develop holiday-themed content that is differentiated in some way from all of the retail content that is frequently holiday-centric.

4. Be realistic about CTAs

Non-retail marketers need to be realistic about calls-to-action during the holiday shopping season.

Because so many of the retail marketing campaigns individuals are exposed to during this period are sales-oriented, non-retail marketers need to be thoughtful about what actions they ask their targets to take because in many cases the bar individuals set will be much higher.

The call-to-action fatigue many experience during the holiday period doesn't mean that non-retail marketers shouldn't ask their targets to take action, but when they do so, calls-to-action need to be clear and compelling.

In some cases, taking plays out of the retail marketer's playbook can be effective. For instance, some non-retail marketers may be able to employ year-end sales to good effect.

5. Rethink success metrics

Non-retail marketers who need to adjust their campaigns during the holiday shopping season should evaluate the ways their adjustments may influence the success metrics they typically rely on to evaluate campaign efficacy. 

If calls-to-action intended to drive sales are reduced, for example, it may be sensible to temporarily place less emphasis on campaign metrics like revenue generated.

Patricio Robles

Published 27 November, 2015 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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