If you’re like me, the holidays are my favorite time of the year, although the season points out with glaring harshness what I feel like is my biggest weakness: I’m a huge procrastinator. While this fault has some serious ramifications on a personal level during the holidays, it can present an even bigger problem for a business!

Today, before it gets too late, I want to focus on holiday marketing for small-to-medium product and service business owners (retail is another blog!). If your company offers a specific product or service, no matter if it’s business-to-business or business-to-consumer, the holidays are a great time to remind your clientele of three things:

1) You’re HERE!
2) You have some product or service that you are supplying at a special rate for the holidays.
3) You’re happy/privileged/grateful that you have them as a client.

Now obviously, this takes a little upfront planning—especially item #2. While the larger your company is usually dictates how much further in advance you need to plan, mom-and-pop shops really just need a couple of months… with an extra month for planning. Your holiday marketing efforts (Christmas/holiday cards and corporate gifts decided upon and ordered, holiday mailers being designed and printed, etcetera) should be in production by the last week of October.

In all reality, the chances of this happening for 95% of small business owners are not, well, realistic.

But here’s the real deal: while we all want our businesses to thrive over the holidays, item #3 above is the most critical to keep your company thriving over the next year. Everybody wants to be remembered. Everybody wants to feel like they’re appreciated. Everybody likes to “get something,” it almost doesn’t matter what it is. (But if you give them something really cool or useful—or both!—your company WILL get remembered, I guarantee it!)

So even if you’ve procrastinated in your holiday marketing this year, just remember that taking care of item #3 will reinforce item #1 for the coming year. It really is worth the effort.

Now, go ahead and put it on your calendar to start thinking about 2012’s holiday season next September!