A Christmas Marketing Guide

By Antonella Portelli

The season of joy is just two months away, but from a business perspective, no firm has two months left for Christmas. This is because your Christmas message and offers need to be out there at least a month before Christmas. In practical business terms, there is only one month left. If you’re still thinking of mounting a Christmas campaign, it’s time to really make a dash for it!

Thinking Christmas starts with strategy – Where does Christmas fit in your plans?

At a strategic level, every business knows the value of the Christmas season. For some organisations, Christmas is not a relevant sales driver even in the extended view of things. For others, Christmas is a valid sales puller and for some, it is the only season of sales. Naturally, the latter business which exists solely on the strength of Christmas boom in sales, planning for Christmas does not start in late October! The amount of marketing budget pinned down on the Christmas season might be a factor of the level of and importance of sales during the period. The complexity of tactics that are rolled out are a reflection of all the above. Tactics need to include any extra staff that you need to hire in order to ensure a smooth flow of operations to cater for the extra demand.

Deck your brand with seasonal attire

One of the first things to check out is how the company’s products and services can be sold during the season and if there is any reason to compel a positive fluctuation in sales. In terms of thinking creatively, one is urged to investigate if the company’s product /service can be dressed up in Christmas gear, thus increasing its value as an associated seasonal product. A company producing beauty products or a salon providing treatments can easily rework their products and services to create Christmas hampers. Bring in the spirit of the season by using branded artwork, packaging and promotional items. Such items need time to be prepared so if you’re embarking on this tactic, you need to speak to your designers before November is here! If you’re selling a destination or a place like a hotel, a park, a resort or a restaurant, then it’s also time to think about the décor and make sure you’re uploading pics on social media.

Offers, vouchers, competitions, and lotteries

Some firms opt to tie their products to offers, often giving discounts or free gifts with purchases. This is especially needed in a crowded marketplace in order to entice customers choose your store over your competitors’. Others use vouchers that can be redeemed in the new year to give something of value that will bring the customer back to the store. Competitions and lotteries in the form of sweepstakes are also common.  All of these tactics aim to engage the customer into considering and acquiring the product or service in question. Nowadays ‘Free Shipping’ is touted to be one of the most enticing value-for-money offers that a company can provide. In designing such schemes, it is essential to question the value and relevance of such schemes to the target market. For example, rewarding loyalty at Christmas time is a good gesture but it should not be hampered by complicated processes that defy the feel-good feeling that such plans ultimately aim to achieve.

Which channel is best?

Your Christmas campaign and offers need to pegged down to a specific media channel or channels. Opting for billboards, printed adverts in magazines or newspapers, or distributing leaflets are all ways of bringing awareness of your seasonal products to your customers. Nowadays many opt for an integrated marketing campaign that ropes in both the digital and the traditional tools. An integrated marketing approach brings in the advantages of a holistic campaign but one needs to check if money is better spent by being focused on a specific channel only. A hairstylist who has a strong Instagram presence is better off harnessing all power in an Instagram campaign that brings to its clients its special offers. It goes without saying that if you’re already using a Mobile App in a successful way, then you need to ramp up the activity for the Christmas period. If you’ve already used location-based marketing before, it’s also valid to use this channel. This is all the more important if you have a bricks-and-mortar store.

Stocking up on Content 

There’s a lot to say about content that can be roped in Christmas campaigns. Here are some handy hints:

• If you know your business well, it’s relatively easy to drum up short relevant content posts or longer blog posts like ‘A look at the past year’, ‘What we’re planning in the new year’, ‘Hints and Tips to survive the Christmas Season’. Taking it all very seriously, Lakeland (the UK kitchenware, bakeware and homeware store) keenly prepare a lot of useful content and publishes it on its various social media platforms and e-newsletters. Blog posts about ‘Planning your Christmas Dinner’, ‘Hints and Tips about using left-overs’ are very useful but Lakeland cleverly places links to relevant products, hence nudging customers towards sales.

• Content can be textual aided by photos but the most engaging content is short videos that can be posted on different social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

• Make sure that like your product, all content is spiced up with Christmas flair.

Do we use email campaigns?

Yes, if you have a good mailing list with up-to-date addresses. There is no doubt that it’s difficult to break through the customers’ Inbox in such a time as this, but if you have a good chunk of clients that are regular customers or have come to your store the previous year, then it’s a good time to send a mailshot. Make sure what you offer is relevant and timely and there are clear calls for action and direct links to the booking or purchase page. A sense of urgency can be created with statements like ‘Offer ends on midnight of …’ will also lead to speedier results.

Conversion optimisation, Remarketing & Adwords 

If your Christmas success hinges on sales volume, then you need to ensure that many of those who land on your website go on to make an acquisition. There are different ways of achieving this. This first is optimising the site before the stampede of Christmas shoppers descend on your site and the second is using remarketing. Optimising the site also needs to factor aspects such as ensuring that the website has enough bandwidth to handle the extra influx on crucial dates. Don’t leave out looking into past Christmas customers (and reminding them with a mailshot), and following up abandoned shopping carts. Pay-per-click search engine campaigns need to be monitored to ensure that the right seasonal keywords are being used. And while on this topic, do make a note to change these keywords in January, once the January sales have started and people are more looking for deals.

Away from the legendary and epic marketing campaigns that have come to symbolise the big brands, there’s a lot of Christmas marketing tactics that small and medium-sized companies can employ. There’s nothing better than ending the year with a healthy cash-flow situation and bringing a sense of satisfaction to your clients with the feeling of having made a ‘good-value-for-money’ purchase.

As a 360 degrees marketing company, Keen can navigate your brand through the Christmas season both in terms of printed media, outdoor billboards, promotional items and online. In the realm of digital marketing, we can handle online conversions, campaigns using Adwords, remarketing and Social Media. Get back to us by the first week of November.