It’s that time again! Love it or hate it, the end of year festive season is a massive opportunity for businesses. It’s expected that your business, and every other, will run Christmas and New Year promotions. Even if sales aren’t your normal style, you have license to be a bit merrier in your communications and interactions. Failing to acknowledge the season at all would be the biggest mistake—no business wants to come across as a Scrooge!
But what marketing tactics should you be using to ensure your products and services make their way into your customers’ stockings this year? There are definitely some great ideas around (as well as perennially bad ones) so we’ve taken the liberty of writing our own naughty-and-nice list of these holiday marketing initiatives.
Be sure you’re on the right list—we’ll be checking it twice!
Email overloads: Naughty
Yes, there is an increase in marketing emails over the holiday period – but that doesn’t give you free reign to spam your customers. If anything, since their inboxes are likely to be clogged with plenty of offers, you’re better off sending fewer, more targeted emails. Use statistics from your previous emails to determine what resonates with your mailing list in terms of content, subject line, tone, and more, and adapt these to a relevant holiday promotion.
Take the time to craft marketing messages that will work rather than just firing off another update whenever you put a new product on sale—the last thing you want to do at this lucrative time of year is get yourself blacklisted or unsubscribed.
Themed communications: Nice
In order to put together an effective campaign that sticks with your customers, you need a story. Think about the most famous and successful holiday ads like Coca Cola’s polar bears and John Lewis’s annual heart-warming tales. At their heart, these ads always have a story to tell.
There are plenty of festive themes that can form the basis of a marketing campaign for any company. The 12 days of Christmas, for instance, easily lends itself to countdowns and promotions. And more ethereal values like kindness, family, and generosity can work wonders for your company’s image. Tying your brand to values like these can be invaluable down the line, even if it doesn’t lead to immediate sales.
Tenuous festive links: Naughty
Having said that themes are a great idea, some of you may have stopped reading and run straight into the warehouse to put Santa hats and beards on all your products. Come back! While there’s nothing wrong with having some fun in your marketing, remember to respect your customers’ intelligence.
Savvy customers aren’t going to buy anything just because it’s festively themed. They will still do their research (based on data, of course!) and buy the right products. Make your marketing material festive, by all means, but don’t feel the need to carry that over to the products themselves.
Saying thank you with no strings attached: Nice
Many customers are naturally going to be wary of any marketing communications at this time of year. They will be aware that businesses are looking to cash in on this lucrative period. Playing the long game can have fantastic benefits for your brand image further down the line. There’s nothing wrong with thanking customers and getting nothing from them in return.
In fact, we’re going to encourage it. By avoiding any sales tactics, you can transform the nature of your relationship with your customers—it is no longer purely transactional. You get nothing in return for your Christmas card, thank you letter, or free gift. But your recipients may well feel a bit indebted to you. It will likely build loyalty. And they will think, maybe even speak, of your brand more fondly. All these upsides can pay dividends in the future, so just be patient and generous. ‘Tis the season for giving, after all.
Channel bombardment: Naughty
Just because you’re running more promotions than normal, the content you’re producing as a company shouldn’t suffer. (Oh, and if you’re not producing content, you should be—content marketing leaders enjoy almost 8x higher growth than their contemporaries.) But the 80:20 rule of thumb still stands even in this busy period: Make 80% of your content useful in some way (entertaining or informative) while the remaining 20% can be promotional.
Treating and celebrating your staff: Nice
The holidays are stressful for a lot of people. And working during this period almost always gets more difficult for employees, who have to deal with new promotions, busier stores, impatient customers, and a whole lot more. One of the most effective ways to ensure that your business is a positive environment is to keep your employees in good spirits. Customers can and do pick up on good vibes, and happy employees can have a huge impact on sales.
That’s why it’s important to make time to show your appreciation for those working with and beneath you. Holiday parties are a common way to do this, and giving your employees a token of thanks, from a card to a gift, can also be effective. Of course, remember that showing employees your gratitude should be part of your plans all year long. Employee engagement is a big deal, and holiday celebrations should feel like a continuation of the appreciation — not a last-ditch effort to score some points before the end of the year.
Limiting yourself to Christmas: Naughty
The festive season encapsulates a whole host of holidays. Hanukkah, the winter solstice, and New Year’s are all important to many people as well, so the more celebrating you can do, the better! In particular, January sales are a huge retail opportunity. Failing to prepare properly for this busy time well in advance (given you’ll likely have at least some time off over this period) can be a recipe for stress and disaster.
But planning and executing a coherent marketing initiative that takes you through December and straight into the new year can reap significant rewards.
Making data-driven decisions on relevant gifts and promotions: Nice
While you may think that customers will appreciate any old freebie you want to throw at them, giving them something (or a discount on something) they’ll actually appreciate will be far more effective. Dig into the data about your customer base and their habits to inform what you could offer. For instance, if you know that almost all your customers are pet owners, that will allow you to offer gifts that might appeal to that audience. It’s nice to know what your customers want!
Embrace the festive spirit and, if you stick to the nice tips here and avoid the naughty, you’re sure to have a happy and healthy return on your marketing initiatives.
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