Christmas in summer: Is it too soon to prepare festive marketing campaigns?
Christmas holds a wealth of opportunity for companies around the world. As shoppers head out onto the cold high street, sales rocket. In January 2013, the NRF reported that Christmas and Thanksgiving retail sales increased by 3% to $579.8bn – a whopping number. But if you don’t plan your strategy in advance, Christmas can turn into one large festive flop.
It may seem strange to think of Christmas in July, but this Christmas shop in Truro Cornwall, has shown you can never be too early. Reverend Roger Bush has opened the store in Truro which sells nativity sets, decorations and advent calendars.
Rev Bush has said: “We’ve found, oddly enough, that during the summer months when we get more visitors, people want to buy good quality Christmas products”. So there is a place for Christmas in summer.
As marketers we love a good plan. And as there are only 153 sleeps until Christmas (at time of publication), we thought now would be a good time to get planning for the festive period.
Here are 6 considerations to keep in mind when planning festive marketing campaigns:
1. Build a relationship
Throughout the Christmas period, marketers ramp up their efforts across all channels. Your email inbox will become flooded, promotions will be flying around your social media accounts, and store fronts will be shouting about the offers inside – and your message needs to get through that cacophony of noise too.
If you wait until four weeks before the big day, chances are your shoppers have a) either bought presents already, or b) have a store or product in mind before purchasing. Both options don’t leave much room for your brand.
Start building your contact list and CRM now. Find out which emails are the most popular with your contacts, which offers are the most redeemed and conduct surveys to discover more about your consumers.
2. Be different
Even after building a successful relationship with your contacts, it can be hard to remain at the top of their mind. Consider how your brand can be different during this busy period.
For example, before Christmas last year, the world was abuzz with thoughts of the Mayan prophecies coming true, and ultimately the end of the world. Xbox used this opportunity to offer something that stood out from the usual holiday promotions. They created a ‘Shop until the world drops’ campaign, that counted down until December 21st with a time limited offer.
3. Use your product to solve a problem
I love Christmas shopping, but it can be a terribly stressful time for people. Lists, queuing, parking, and children – all add up to one big nightmare.
Create a marketing strategy that solves problems, and helps your customers. Create an interactive map, a printable shopping list, or even downloadable games to keep the kids entertained. Don’t think about pushing your product, but by solving your customer’s problems you will build your brand and credibility.
4. Use promotions that you know will work
As there is so much pressure on brands to perform at Christmas, it is not the time for testing innovative and ‘out there’ promotions. Use promotions that have worked well for your brand in the past, and should work at Christmas too.
Contests and competitions work extremely well at Christmas – because who doesn’t love a free gift? Competitions keep things interesting, and can be easily personalised for your brand and product.
5. Keep things fresh
During the lead up to the holidays, you will need a phased plan. There’s no point firing out marketing messages in the final few weeks before the big day, as your messages will come across as contrived, and will potentially be missed.
Tell a story with your marketing, and promote your products and services with more force as the holidays draw closer.
6. Keep it simple
Keep your marketing messages to the point and simple. Complicated products or competitions will not work at Christmas, as consumers are moving so quickly.
As more brands fight for consumer’s time and money, a simple, strong message will stand out.
Even though the mercury is soaring right now, in a few short months, it will be time to get started with your marketing strategy, so if you can start planning now, you’ll be a cut above the rest.
Keep these points in mind when building a strategy, and get into the festive spirit.
Pic source: BBC and Merry Stockings.