For most businesses it was a great Christmas last year, better than anyone expected. Across the board retail sales grew strongly in the final quarter of 2016, with growth of 7.1% in December. The average amount spent on gifts in the UK was almost £367 per person. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without gifts, would it? There was also considerable additional spending on food, clothing, white goods and flooring as people prepared their houses for visitors.
It’s not too late to take advantage of festive spending and plan your Christmas 2017 advertising campaign. But you need to start now!
If you’re not sure where to start, these six steps will help – along with some tips for keeping costs under control.
1: Be clear, in objectives and execution
The first step is to look at your product or service offering. What is it you want to do? Do you want to raise awareness, gain orders, increase store visits, grow web sales, sell tickets? Answering this question makes the following steps much easier.
When you know what you want to do, see if you can differentiate yourself from your competitors. Remember, they will have a Christmas plan in place too. Can you offer a discount? Guarantee delivery in time for Christmas? Offer exclusive events to regular customers?
Your customers will be bombarded with Christmas messages so make sure your offering is as sharp, clear and differentiated as possible. You need to stand out.
2: Develop your campaign style
Not everyone can make the next John Lewis ad but with a little thought you can get a creative, professional-looking campaign theme to run through all your advertising.
It’s helpful here to think about your customers. Are they generally young or old, male or female, locally-based or ordering nationally? Do you have any lifestyle or demographic information available? The more you understand your customer, the more your campaign will resonate with them.
Once you have a theme in mind make sure you use it absolutely everywhere… not just on the advertising channels but on your web page and social profiles, at the foot of your emails, on your invoices, in your window, on your fleet… everywhere! All campaigns are ‘the sum of their parts’. When was the last time you bought the first time you saw something?
Tip: If you get external design help, make sure work gets sent back to you as JPEG files as well as professional artist format files. Doing this means you can re-purpose some of your artwork without incurring lots of charges from your designer.
3: Review your online presence
Even if you don’t sell online, the web – and the mobile web in particular – is fast becoming the first port of call for most people when researching products, prices and suppliers, so you need to make sure your website is fast and responsive. If it isn’t you should fix that first. Come back when you’ve ticked that box – it’s that important!
Okay, now look at your current web footprint. Search for your business on Google, Bing, YouTube and Google Maps. Then look for it on Yell, Scoot and other directory sites. Are your business details consistent and accurate in all these places? If not people won’t always see your listing because the search engines can penalise your page rank if inconsistent information is found.
You might find our Business Broadcast solution helpful for this step.
4: Consider where to advertise
There’s lots of places to spend your advertising money and it can be really difficult to know which channels to go for.
So have a look back at other campaigns and see what you can learn. What worked last year? What customer information do you have available? Email can be a low cost way of getting your message out but the response usually won’t be high enough to make that the only thing you do. Direct mail can cost a little more but is still a great way of talking directly to past customers.
Print. Do you need a catalogue, a Christmas card, a flyer, ads in your local newspaper? Printers start to get booked up at this time of year so if you are printing, bump that up your to-do list or you won’t have it ready for the spike in Christmas interest.
Tip: Search interest in all terms related to Christmas starts to grow from early October onward so you should try and and have your campaign plan ready for then.
Digital. Web ads, digital display, mobile banners, pop-ups… call it what you will, you should be considering online advertising. The more you’re able to identify about your audience the better, as you can target your web ads by site, location, gender, lifestyle and so on. If you know what you’re doing a digital trading desk may provide the lowest cost way to book ads, but you can’t always be sure what sites you’ll appear on. Talk to us about the massive audience across our network of newspaper sites for a simple way to get your web ads live.
Social. Most businesses have Facebook and Twitter pages. Remember how we advised that you get your artwork provided as JPEGs earlier? Make sure you plan a steady stream of interesting social posts using your campaign assets. If your social audience isn’t very big or very responsive, get some help with Facebook advertising and competitions.
Pay per click and re-targeting ads. If you haven’t used these before it can feel uncomfortable to spend your advertising money here, BUT it’s just about the most trackable and demonstrable advertising there is. It doesn’t work for every business type and offering since you’re essentially paying to get people onto your website, but if you got your proposition right earlier, and your site is fast and easy to buy from, it can be incredibly effective for getting sales. You can easily book these campaigns yourself but we’d recommend getting some professional help initially or you could easily blow your ad budget with limited impact.
5. Get some help!
If you’re an SME, successfully carrying out steps one to four could take up a lot of valuable time – time when you could be taking orders, making sales and seeing customers.
We can help with some of your needs and we don’t charge for consultations. We’ve got loads of free tools for you to use and we can even have artwork designed for you. But, ask around. We bet one of your contacts on LinkedIn can help with a good freelance designer, everyone has a ‘great little printer’ they can put you in touch with, and loads of people can point you in the direction of a decent photographer. Don’t try and be a jack-of-all-trades.
6. Monitor and re-plan if neccesary
We don’t yet know the effect Brexit will have on consumer confidence this year. There could be more of a backlash to Black Friday. We’re not sure what the hot new toy or gift is going to be either so keep an eye on your stock, and your plans, and don’t be afraid to adjust as you go along.
Digital advertising, PPC, social and even newspaper print ads can all be turned around at very short notice so if things start to drift and it looks like you’re not getting the results you hoped for – do something about it!
That’s it. We hope that you found this useful. Why not grab yourself a glass of sherry and a notepad and get your Christmas plans underway today?