Here’s How to Plan a Fantastic Festive Campaign.
It’s arguably the biggest event in the retail calendar, and according to Bloomberg, last year’s UK Christmas retail sales beat forecasts with a record increase. Most retailers plan their festive campaigns long in advance, so if you haven’t thought ahead to the season of Santa, you’d better start now. It won’t be a very merry Christmas if you lose out in what is the most profitable period of the year.
Competition is tough in the festive season – every shop and brand is screaming for attention, so you really need to be smart with your planning, marketing and promotion to stand out from the crowd. If you want your piece of the Christmas pie, you’ll need to go after it with the tenacity of two eleventh hour shoppers fighting over the last available parking space.
That Festive Feeling
Last year, John Lewis spent £7 million on a multichannel campaign that included a television advert, social media, soft toys, in-store events and a mini manmade forest on the banks of the Thames. Meanwhile, global research firm Nielsen predicted that retailers would spend around £390m on adverts in the last three months of 2013.
With these figures in mind, how do you even begin to compete with high street retailers, who have multimillion pound budgets at their disposal?
- Be Heartfelt: Many people are increasingly put off by the generic consumerism of the holiday season. A little sincerity can go a long way.
- Offer Value: What can you offer customers that your competitors can’t? Apart from price cuts, of course. Think about how you can make their lives easier – do you offer home delivery? A gift wrapping service? Extended store hours during the Christmas season? A flexible returns policy?
- Be Interesting: This is, of course, easier said than done. Do you have a really unique selling point? Have you thought up a groundbreaking new approach to the battlefield that is Christmas retail? Use your quirks to stand out from the crowd. The best Christmas ads are always the ones that take a slightly different approach.
- Stay on Target: Spend your budget wisely. Don’t just mass target your audience and hope for soaring sales. Shoppers are bombarded with a plethora of Christmas ads over the season – unless you’ve mastered point number three above, you’re just going to be tuned out and join the white noise of frantic retailers hoping to meet their targets.
- Cut the Crap: This could go either way. While we could go into a great debate about the meaning of Christmas to society as a whole, let’s be honest – the meaning of Christmas to shoppers is about finding the right present for the right person. And if you can make this happen with minimal fuss, then why not? [See point number two] We’re not advocating Grinch-like qualities, of course, but you don’t always have to be sweet and meaningful.
- Be Customer-Centric: With great shopping season comes great responsibility. Long queues, frozen checkout screens, sold-out items, trying to get hold of a customer service representatives – these are incredibly frustrating experiences for the customer. If you want to ease Christmas shopping complications while generating loyalty, then do make sure your customer service is top-notch. Have people on hand to deal with enquiries and resolve issues swiftly. Monitor your social channels for any complaints and address them professionally.
- Make People Laugh: There’s nothing like some comic relief to ease the black moods of frazzled shoppers. Be a little irreverent this season. Don’t take yourself so seriously, and others will follow suit.
- Go Online: More and more shoppers are moving from malls to the comfort of their own abode – we’re talking online shopping, of course. According to the British Retail Consortium, around 1 in 5 non food items was bought online in December 2013.
Your Content Collateral
In planning what we’re sure will be a fantastic Christmas campaign, you have a number of content tools at your disposal.
Email Marketing: We know it’s tempting, but don’t spam your customers with special offers! Resist the urge to mail them every day. Let them know when a sale starts, and remind them just before it’s about to end. Make it easy for them to click through directly from the mail to purchase the product. Email marketing can also be used to alert customers to valuable information – festive returns policies, extended store hours, and any other valuable services your store/service can provide over this time. Email can also be used to complement other content efforts – festive blog posts or content marketing campaigns.
Onsite Content: How about decorating your site, with some animated holly and a star on top? [We kid, we kid.] In all seriousness, make it easy for customers to navigate your products and Christmas specials. Draw attention to any important Christmas information, such as trading hours, delivery charges and festive offers. Update your titles and meta data accordingly.
Blog: Blog posts can be a great driver of traffic to the rest of your site. Plan your festive editorial calendar to incorporate special dates, as well as events taking place in your industry over this time period. It’s always a good idea to highlight festive products or services.
Content Marketing: Created an interesting, attractive festive infographic? Produced a humorous branded video? Come up with a catchy seasonal campaign? Coded some kind of fantastic app?
Then share, share, share! We know content marketing is going bigger, better and more integrated than ever – here’s your chance to create something with the potential to go viral, without having to fork out a fortune for a prime time television ad slot.
Do’s and Don’ts
Finally, a few pointers to keep in mind:
- Don’t stick the same formula. What worked five years ago may appear irritating, dated or cheesy today.
- If you’re a multinational brand advertising to different audience, then one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. Yes, some messages are universal, but not everyone experiences a snowy white Christmas. Some of us [The Cape Town office!] are basking in the sun around a barbeque come 25th December.
- Avoid stereotypes. ‘Nuff said.
- Avoid the cheese. Please, please, for the love of all things lactose, avoid the cheesy Christmas factor. There’s no greater turn off.
- Don’t spam. Yes, I know I’ve already mentioned this above, but it bears repeating. So I say again, do not spam. Offline or online, it’s a tactic guaranteed to annoy the shopper – and if you’re anything like me, I’ll passive-aggressively avoid the offending company just to spite them.
- Don’t preach. Leave the true meaning of Christmas messages to the places of pulpits and pews.
- Don’t try to be so unique that you end up being just plain weird. You don’t want people to go “huh?” when they encounter your festive message. Beware ending up on a list of the most bizarre Christmas ads.
Final Words of Wisdom
And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?
It came without ribbons. It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags.
And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?
Merry Christmas planning!