By now, we have all heard of the anti-Christmas movement that is challenging the traditional approach to holiday marketing. Perhaps shoppers are tired of seeing ads with Santa, flanked by his reindeer, holding bow-wrapped copies of the new Call of Duty or this years gimme-gimme-gotta-have-it iPad. Maybe consumers simply have every reason to reject the old Yule Tide cliches employed by retailers since the days of Miracle on 34th Street. As marketers, we are tasked with making the most of the holiday shopping season whilst dodging the “Christmas rut.”
Here’s a look at four things your company can do to help make its Christmas season a more jolly one:
Don’t lose sight of brand identity
During the other months of the year, your company has worked hard to build an image for itself. This may be many things – it can range from casting your company as a cool, slightly irreverent disruption in your given field, to stylizing your product as a cozy-cuddly, warm and fuzzy creature of comfort.
Whatever the case may be, do not let the holiday spirit totally erode your brand image. In your holiday media and content, the best practice is to let your usual branding and tone shine with just a little holiday marketing flare figured in, for effect. In a visual example, think of it like wearing a Santa hat with your casual clothes instead of the entire red suit with pillows stuffed underneath – in the spirit but not contrived.
Stay on task
Many businesses start to wind down for the year inside the “twelve days of Christmas.” While your CEO and accounting team may be jetting out of the office early every day for the next few weeks until after the New Year, your holiday marketing team has to stick it out in the trenches. The beautiful thing about digital marketing is that course corrections are easier than ever, especially whenever the ad department is in-house.
Gone are the days of having to call the network to pull TV ads that are ineffectual, well, for most small to medium-size businesses those days are gone, perhaps not for bigger businesses. Likewise, we don’t really have to call the print shop to stop the presses and change-out copy to try to get better results. Now, we simply send a new text or tweet, or target a new consumer group on-the-fly as we use data to measure the success of different advertising channels.
Since the ability to fluidly shift through the channels of Social, Local, and Mobile (SoLoMo) is crucial to holiday marketing, and can have a dramatic impact on return, the marketing team simply has to be ready to adapt as the big day approaches. Last minute changes can make a difference – so long as someone is around to make them.
In light of the frenzied nature of holiday shopping it is very easy to focus on promotions, incentives, and other similar efforts to draw in some of that free-flowing holiday cash. But we have to slow down and make time for engagement with our shoppers. Use social media to start a dialog around holiday questions or ask them to post holiday-themed pictures of them using or just holding your product. Get creative. Just do not neglect the need for dialog. If you do this, you just might gain an insight into what your customers are after this season, allowing you to make one of those course corrections mentioned in our second example above.
‘Tis the season
The holidays are the perfect time for giveaways, large and small. The holiday season is one of the most appropriate times of the year to give for the sake of giving – meaning cultivating and enriching brand image with freebies. Certainly giveaways get people talking, and conversation is good, but even if you do not realize immediate ROI from a giveaway, the act almost always does a favor for brand image, looking at the big picture. Of course, giving away a must-have, is almost always a guaranteed way to drum up interest – and sometimes, that is just what is needed.
In the age of content marketing and advertising on-the-sly, the holidays are one of the times of the year when the consumer is most aware that they are being sold to. As such, we who are tasked with holiday marketing owe it to our customers to try a little harder and strive to meet their changing expectations. By following the advice above, we stand a good chance of preserving our brands that we have worked so hard to build while engaging our customers in a fruitful way. So keep it fresh, friendly, and focused, and don’t forget to savor the season!