At the end of each year, everyone starts acting a little… different. Even people who are “retail-resistant” the rest of the year are suddenly compelled to spend hours searching the shops (and the internet) for ways to spend their hard-earned cash.
To catch their interest, your business needs to behave a little differently too.
Why market differently (not just “more”) for the holiday season?
What your small business does during the rest of the year might work well for your current, loyal market. That doesn’t mean it’s enough to attract the eye of a new audience; one that’s already being bombarded with seasonal marketing messages.
Christmas-related marketing campaigns are usually designed to draw willing buyers towards established products. But the best engagement plans are disruptive, presenting recognised brands in a new light.
To give your brand a facelift in time for Christmas and ensure your products are first into stockings everywhere, try these 12 marketing ideas.
1. Add some cheer to what’s already there
Christmas comes along every year, so a once-off investment in small, festive design changes to your logo, social media headers, profile pictures and site banners is bound to pay off annually. For instance, you might have a designer add something like a small Santa hat or sprig of holly.
If you’re to do them just once and use them every year, though, you’ll have to ensure the changes you make this year are tasteful, neutral, perfectly on-brand and evergreen. It’s unnecessarily expensive to redesign branding each time there’s a holiday.
2. Take the holidays to your buyer
Sure, your Instagram feed is chock-full of beach landscapes, but not everyone is on holiday just yet. A lot of your target market may be stuck at their desks right up to the end of the work day on the 24th.
Deliver festive cheer and the Christmas shopping experience to them in the form of holiday-themed updates on your latest promotions and gift offerings.
3. Team up
If your particular brand isn’t naturally made for Christmas, consider approaching a holidays-friendly business and offer customers bundle deals.
Steer clear of direct competitors, and opt instead for complementary, cross-promotional offerings: chocolate goes well with wine, hair goes well with nails.
4. Make it a contest
Online, positive engagement drives the kind of clicks you really want. Organise a competition that encourages your social media followers to interact with your brand in a quirky, offbeat way.
Maybe it’s singing an off-key Christmas carol, or a prize for the most original family Christmas story – these initiatives won’t always generate money immediately, but they will cast your product and your name in a lasting, positive light.
5. Go old-school
Remember Christmas cards? Send out a few. Handwritten holiday cards delivered by post make a personal, arresting gesture that shows you’re capable of logging off and really connecting with people.
6. Give a gift
Discounts don’t count – not since Black Friday came to SA and overshadowed all other sales. For small businesses, discounts high enough to make an impression can also seriously erode potential profits.
A better alternative is to investigate small gifts for your customers. Christmas is for sharing, so give back to your buyers by putting something under their trees. This could be a simple but attractive fridge magnet, a lip balm or a corkscrew – make it something they’ll actually use, and they’ll remember you well into the coming year.
7. Embrace the season
Over-the-top trees, fires and mugs of cocoa, even fake snow – Christmas is one of few times in the year when you can go all-out cheesy. Stick to wholesome, respectful values, but don’t hold back. There are no downsides to embracing a festive spirit.
8. Reach out
Christmas is for gifts and family, but a lot of people have neither. Reaching out to those less fortunate, as well as those who may feel isolated by the occasion, could benefit others at the same time as giving your brand a boost.
Partner with a charity, instigate a drive for needed or cheer-giving items or roll up your sleeves and involve your staff in making the season brighter for others.
9. Put on a party
Turn new heads and attract a whole lot of positive PR with a community-led function, for example at a nursing home for retirees or a centre for troubled or at-risk children.
No, it’s not tasteless to boost your own business in this way. Consider the good your business can do on the day, by drawing media attention to the work being done at these centres and by donating time, effort and goods.
10. Wrap it up
Delivery systems are a great way to spread the Christmas cheer, especially if your products are pitched at kids. Modify your packaging so it looks like your parcels are arriving straight from Santa, with personalized gift tags that explain the many detours his reindeers had to take before they arrived at the right address.
Marketing to kids? Perfect: a letter directly from Santa’s elves, detailing the process of finding, sorting and delivering a pretty gift will capture their imagination, and charm their parents, too.
11. Count down
One of the reasons Christmas shopping is so frenetic is that a lot of people – especially men – leave it to the last minute.
Encourage your market to get ahead of the crowds by buying in advance, with a countdown calendar. You could attach promotions or specials to the calendar as well, to create a sense of urgency among potential buyers.
As we said, at the end of each year, everyone starts acting a little different: anxious, irritable, and in a hurry. And that’s not just shoppers – marketers are also often guilty of becoming more aggressive than they would be at other times of the year.
Stand out from the hustle with a more considered approach. This is supposed to be fun, after all. A subtle, tongue-in-cheek advertising campaign will go over a lot more kindly with the harried masses than yet another hard, “sell-sell-sell” approach.