'Tis the season to be prepared
Is it too early to talk Christmas? If you’re a small business the answer is no and, if you haven’t done so already, now is the time to put your Christmas marketing plans in place. Whether you are a retail or non-retail brand, it is important that your marketing activity addresses your customer’s changing needs and behaviour at this time of year.
2020 was a year like no other. With the pandemic causing financial uncertainty and lockdown restrictions imposed at short notice, the previously predictable seasonal consumer behaviour changed dramatically. According to The Centre for Retail Research*, November 2020 saw a rise in online purchases of +80.0% when compared to November 2019. Similarly, Black Friday 2020 became a predominantly online affair.
Throughout the pandemic, B2C and B2B businesses alike were called to evaluate their online offering as customers became more reliant on digital search to find a product or service.
As a small business, how can we learn from the experience of last year and how do we cut through the noise to deliver a relevant and effective Christmas marketing strategy?
Back to basics – Be brand relevant
Make sure your plan is relevant to your brand. Some of the most successful Christmas marketing campaigns focus on the company’s overarching brand values and how these align to the core message of Christmas. Think John Lewis – from the launch of the big-budget ad, through to their accompanying website landing page, social media activity and themed gifting. Each touchpoint is carefully thought through and offers an inviting and cohesive customer journey.
Black Friday – Should you take part?
Consider how you want to address the popularity of Black Friday and whether it needs to be incorporated into your marketing strategy. The answer is not always yes. Despite a high percentage of UK retailers taking part in 2020, many big brands shunned the American-export, including Next, M&S and Wilko who used the month to highlight their focus on delivering value all year-round. Your Black Friday offering does not necessarily need to include discounts but, as a small business, time-limited incentives could feature.
Still interested? Black Friday 2021 will take place on 26th November.
Small Business Saturday
Small Business Saturday is a non-commercial initiative which first took place in the UK in 2013, supported by American Express, who understand how crucial small businesses are in our local communities and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ in the run up to Christmas. The grassroots campaign highlights small business success and all types of businesses are encouraged to get involved, from family businesses, to wholesalers to business service providers. There is also an opportunity for larger business to support the campaign via mentoring, advertising and sponsorship.
With 15.4million people choosing to shop small on last year’s Small Business Saturday UK, spend hit £1.1 billion, exceeding the billion-pound mark for the first time ever as shoppers showed support for their local high streets. In the 8th year of the campaign, over 250 small businesses took part and #SmallBusinessSaturday was the UK’s top Twitter trend during the day. A real sense of community spirit was evident nationwide as 48% of buyers shopped local, providing welcome support to independent businesses after a tough year**.
This year, Small Business Saturday UK takes place on 4th December. Find out how you can get involved here.
Online & mobile – Is your website ready?
Last year, the digital landscape shifted on a seismic scale. The importance of having a website that is mobile-friendly and easily navigated has never been greater. Your site should be fully optimised for search through a targeted SEO strategy to ensure your audience is able to find you. It is well worth carrying out a Digital Audit of your website to make sure it is performing as well as it can be.
If you think your business could benefit from a Website Audit, follow this link.
Social media – Let’s talk
According to a survey by Bazaarvoice Influenster*** earlier this year, more than three quarters (79%) of shoppers said they were now more influenced to shop on social platforms than they were a year ago. Are you listening to the conversation and responding to posts that are relevant to your business?
Ask yourself how consumers will find you. Research relevant hashtags and make use of the latest developments on social media such as Insta Reels and Shops to reach a wider audience. Running a Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign on your chosen social platform can be a cost-effective way of reaching a very targeted audience (defined by location, age, gender and interests).
Social Influencers can also have a big impact on attracting new customers and sales conversions. Are there influencers speaking to your target audience who would be interested in partnering with your brand in the lead up to Christmas? Micro-influencers (with a smaller number of followers) often represent a good option for smaller businesses, as they can typically enjoy a more loyal, targeted following.
Product selection – Standing out from the crowd
Consumers are bombarded with gifting options this time of year. Can you offer an exclusive, limited-edition piece? Make sure you understand fulfilment deadlines from your supply chain, particularly with on-going pandemic disruption to manufacturing and shipping, and ensure these are clearly communicated to your customers with last order dates for guaranteed Christmas delivery.
Non-retail businesses? – Time to reconnect & reward
Christmas is the perfect time to reward customers, incentivise employees and reconnect with prospects through hosting and gifting. The hospitality industry was especially hard hit over the festive season last year through restrictions and lockdowns. As well as rewarding customers and employees, you could help give a much-needed boost to a local hospitality business by choosing their venue or service to entertain your guests. Start your research now to ensure you can secure your chosen venue and understand order deadlines for the personalisation and prompt delivery of gifts.
Community events can help to raise your company’s profile within your chosen location and target audience through sponsorship and/or raffle gift donations.
Do you need help developing a marketing strategy, PPC campaign or updating your website? Contact our team to see how we can help.
*** : Research by Bazaar Voice