We all know that Christmas is the biggest selling opportunity of the year. Yet every year, during the first week of November, the same thing happens. My phone rings like crazy with local small businesses asking for help with Christmas marketing campaigns. And every year I say the same thing: “Sorry, it’s too late”.
Many big brands start planning Christmas campaigns in June
Most big brands already have their Christmas marketing plans done by August, and around 20% will have their Christmas selling campaigns ready to roll by the middle of June. Big hotels and venues, who want to capitalise on the lucrative corporate Christmas party market will have their Christmas menus available by April.
So if you haven’t started thinking about it yet, I strongly urge you to start planning now. Here're some top tips to give you some inspiration.
1. Your website needs to be as shiny as Rudolph’s nose
Over the past few years, around 9 out of 10 people purchased Christmas gifts online. Even if you don’t sell products or services online, bear in mind that potential buyers often do their shopping research online to help them decide what to buy when they are at the shops. So make sure everything is current and that all products are available.
2. Work out exactly what you want to sell for the Christmas period
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard businesses say, “we should have got more of those; we could have sold the same amount 10 times over”. Get your stock levels right, make sure you can make or obtain the products you want to sell over the Christmas period. What was your best seller last year? What are the current trends in your market sector? What new products or services can you promote in the run-up to Christmas? Try to think laterally. Even if you don’t have a physical product to sell, think about how you could adapt it and sell it as say, a voucher. One of my clients in the self-catering hospitality sector has started offering gift vouchers. This week she sold her first £450 Christmas gift voucher.
3. Make sure your messages are clear and to the point
Over the Christmas period, consumers are bombarded with promotions, offers and clever marketing messages to convince us to buy. Christmas shoppers are focused on the job in hand, so it pays to segment your marketing messages and make them as specific as possible. For example, if you sell say, mobile phone covers, you could market pretty ones to young men as a perfect stocking filler for the ‘women in your life.’ You could market it to older women as the ideal gift for sons and daughters. In other words don’t just think about the end recipient, think about who could buy it for them.
4. Post Christmas surfers
Don’t forget that as soon as we’ve ripped open our presents and have feasted ourselves to busting point, the whole January sale phenomenon starts. Out come the smartphones and tablets and we start online surfing. In recent years we've seen brands advertising their special deals on Christmas Day! Think how you could capitalise on that.
5. Social media planning
Social media needs to be planned all year round, but give it careful attention in the run-up to Christmas. If you’re not already using a social media management tool like Hootsuite or Buffer, now would be a good time to take a look at them. They can save you a lot of time and can help you keep your message in front of potential customers throughout the Christmas and post-Christmas period.
As we say goodbye to summer, start thinking about your Christmas sales. A bit of early planning could make a massive difference your bottom line.