The best seasonal marketing campaigns are planned in advance. So despite Christmas being the last thing on your mind, thinking now about your marketing around the festive period could help you gain more customers and avoid more stress.
To start with, look through what you did last year and how effective it was in encouraging sales and new customers. Look through your social media, email marketing and print marketing to see what worked and what didn’t, and make a note of it for this year’s plans.
Set your objectives
The key to any marketing campaign is your objective – what are you trying to achieve? Christmas is an important time for any business selling products direct to consumers, but certain services are also much-needed, from delivery firms to emergency plumbers. Think about why a potential customer would buy from your business at Christmas, and shape your objective around that.
For example, shoppers are very likely to buy wreaths, table decorations and decorative greenery from a florist at Christmas, so your objective could be to increase sales in these products. For a hairdresser, people are likely to want last-minute trims and party hair, so your objective could be to increase sales in these services.
Create a schedule
Next, think about when your audience will want to hear about Christmas products or services. While Christmas marketing for big brands seems to come earlier each year, it won’t be right for the customers of every business – no-one wants to buy their turkey in October or new furniture on Christmas Eve!
Understanding when your customer wants to hear about Christmas products or services will help you start your marketing at the right time, including updating your website.
Update your website
Whether you sell things online or not, people will research your business online to find out about you first. Start planning the festive photos you’ll use on your website and social media so you can create them with plenty of time to go. You should also make sure your website is up-to-date, clear and easy to read– Christmas shoppers don’t have a lot of time so don’t make them search your website for what they need.
Start drafting a separate page on your website for everything Christmas-related, and when it’s ready make sure there’s a clear link to it on your home page. Include details of what hours you’ll be operating over Christmas and any changes to delivery so potential customers know what to expect. You should also include any ‘upsell’ opportunities – for example, if you offer a gift wrapping service, personalisation or special Christmas offers. If possible, it’s a good idea to provide a dedicated email address on this page for any discrepancies or queries over the Christmas period, to ensure they are all picked up and dealt with once the office is open again.
Plan your communications
Now you have your objectives, schedule and up-to-date website, the earlier you can start to think about what techniques you’ll use to get people to your website or into your shop at Christmas, the better. Use your notes from last year to start to think of marketing ideas: what were the most successful? Which didn’t work at all?
Focus on the channels which are going to be most useful to help you achieve your marketing objectives – it’s better to use a few channels very well than spread yourself too thin. If you choose to use a few different channels, try and link them up in some way so each one of them helps you achieve your objective. This will also help with managing the different timescales that the different marketing techniques need. For example, a print advert in the local paper will need to be designed and sent much earlier than social media updates.
You might want to use your special Christmas website page as the final destination for any marketing you do. By using a landing page, you can accurately track how many people visit your website via a specific link, which you can use in print and online marketing.
Christmas will be a busy time for you, your family and your customers, so if you use social media marketing it’s important to plan and manage this well. You can use social media management tools to help you, where you write and schedule updates far in advance of when you want to send them. Thinking about what you might share now and scheduling some information in advance will free up your time around Christmas itself so you can focus on running your business.
The festive period has a lot of potential for local businesses, whatever product or service you sell. By spending some time now thinking about and planning your Christmas marketing, you’ll feel more confident when it comes to the big day itself.