Small businesses should be already embracing the seasonal changes, and take advantage of the benefits they bring throughout the year. They have been previously limited to operating and marketing within a small radius of their location. However, with the addition of online and social media advertising, the pool of potential customers can still be somewhat restricted to those who live or pass close-by. Moving into online sales via an e-commerce site or mobile app removes those restrictions, with the only weakness is how discoverable they are online, and the number of places they ship to.
Add Christmas flair to Your Branding
Something that any business can do is to update their branding with a festive theme. You can adjust your logo and social media profile pictures to incorporate elements associated with Christmas and use it throughout the season, both online and in any printed media (See picture below). You should make sure your brand is still recognisable. Of course, there will be costs however, you can reuse these images for several years.
You should make it consistent. Add Christmas theme to your social media header images, either as a single Christmas-themed image for the duration of the festive season or regularly changed to reflect any promotional offers you have running. This idea can be used on your website, social media accounts, online stores, in-store, in email marketing campaigns, in online and print ads, in your mobile app, and in any festive/Christmas cards you send out.
Share Festive Updates
The general rule for content marketing is that 80% of your content should add value to your customer’s lives, and only 20% should be about promoting your business, services or products.
However over the festive season, as long as you don’t end up only posting self-promotional updates. Your regular posts can still add value to the lives of your customers while having more seasonal appeal:
- Restaurants – Share the Chef’s favourite seasonal-related recipe or dish
- Beauty salons – Post tips on how to extend the benefits of any treatments
- Gyms – Share advice on how to stay fit and healthy for Christmas
As we approach the end of the year it is also the perfect time for sharing retrospectives, from styles that defined the year (fashion retailers), to top new tools (hardware stores).
Reward Your Social Media Fans
Depending on your audience, you may find that your followers on social media are your most engaged customers and your best brand ambassadors. Some companies show their appreciation by having offers exclusive to social media platforms. Although digital codes and coupons work best with online stores, businesses can still offer print-at-home coupons that are promoted exclusively on social media. An alternative for online businesses is to create a landing page with unique offers, and again only promote this on social media. This idea works best if limited to your social media accounts, and when linked to your online store.
Publish Themed Videos
Christmas time is the perfect time to post short, relevant videos that help your customers – without being overly promotional. Check out your product range, maybe due to its size or shape, it could be difficult to wrap – this way you can film demonstrations on how to gift wrap them with ease.
Keep the videos short – if you want to share it on Twitter it should be no more than 140 seconds long, while Instagram’s limit is 60 seconds. If you are time restricted you can shoot separate videos for each demonstration. Similarly, if you sell a lot of flat-pack items, you could publish videos that demonstrate how to easy it is to assemble them. This idea can be used on your website, social media accounts, referenced in email marketing campaigns, and in your mobile app.
Christmas Email Marketing Campaign
The holiday season is a good time to boost your email marketing strategy. You can focus your campaign to highlight specific products and offers. Make sure to share important information relevant to the season, such as extended trading hours, etc. For any business with a well-maintained email database, it can easily be adapted to a print or social media campaign.
You should emphasise on showcasing unique items that aren’t necessarily available from High Street stores and big retailers. You can also balance between highlighting specific products and offering a general discount, either across your store or specific types of products – as long as you have sufficient inventory of all of your stock that is being promoted. Target departments of your business that will generate the most interest and traffic, and where you have sufficient inventory. If your inventory system can identify the top-selling items in each department, you can turn this into a “This Year’s Best Sellers” campaign.
The subject line of your emails should always stand out and encourage your subscribers to open the message. Over the festive season you need to put in the effort; your competitors, like you, will also be increasing their marketing efforts, putting more demand on customers attention and time. You should refrain from being too vague about what is in the message – where possible be very specific about any offers. For example, you could play on works like ‘Yule adore our wrapping tips!’ or get straight to the point ‘We’re feeling very merry. Get 50 percent off your order.’
8. Join Forces
So you’re not going to work with a direct competitor, more like a small business whose product or services complement your own for example:
Hair salons – Nail salons,
Furniture retailers – Home decor stores,
Fashion boutiques – Laundromats/dry-cleaners.
The idea is to offer bundled deals which effectively promote each other, and encourage customers to support both. These promotions and offers could be either a discount on bundles like 20% off a service when you buy a product or buy them together for £__ price. This idea is better suited to small businesses who offer complementary products, and are located close to each other. It can be adapted for online retailers too.
9. Organise a Christmas Contest
It’s great to get your customers involved in some of your events, and everyone loves a contest. You can ask your customers to submit photos of themselves with your product or ‘like and share’ on Facebook – with a prize of maybe a free product/discounted/deal. All entries should be posted on your social media channels, and although you can link these contests to in-store purchases, this idea is more about generating publicity and having fun. This idea is suitable for most businesses, from retailers through to service providers, with either an online or physical store, and an active and engaged social media audience.
10. Printed Holiday Cards
Depending on how much information you collect from customers, you can consider making Christmas cards personal by having them printed and sent out via the postal system. Unless you are sending out hundreds of cards, you can take this a step further by writing the customer’s name on the card, possibly with a short personalised note. This does require a little more forward planning and effort, but it is a strong reminder to your customers that you see them as more than just a database entry. This idea is suitable for any business with an up-to-date customer database, with some adjustment depending on the size. It lends itself more easily to businesses with an online store or a CRM system.
Another idea is if you send out digital or printed holiday cards, you could include a small gift – such as an exclusive discount – a great way to remind your customers that you appreciate their support while encouraging them to continue supporting you. You could even go one step further and personalise this gift by linking it to the products they each buy most often.
11. Strategic Impulse Buys
Online stores should already be incorporating a recommendation system in their e-commerce platform. You can do this by highlighting products related to what customers add to their carts, and during Christmas, this can be adjusted slightly to include gift wrap, gift tags, and smaller items as gift suggestions. Physical stores can adapt this by placing gift wrap and appropriate impulse buys close to all pay points. Depending on your type of business you may already have impulse buys at all pay points, but make sure these are more suited to the holiday season, rather than just generic impulse items.
12. In The Time Of Giving
Christmas time is all about gift giving. It is easy for customers to feel overwhelmed when shopping, with the hundreds of products or services available. You can help this by promoting gift sets and “curated” gift ideas throughout your store, both physical and online. Ensure your gift sets and gift ideas cover a broad range of interests and ages, and if you have put out a Christmas catalogue, it should definitely include sections for gift sets and gift ideas. Some companies have a Christmas finder to help shoppers find the perfect gift they are looking for.
No matter how well your people plan their Christmas shopping, they are likely to have at least one person who is difficult to shop for, or whose gift idea is no longer available. Help these customers ensuring you have gift cards available for purchase. If you have switched from selling physical gift cards to providing digital cards, ensure you have prominent signage indicating this, and that you at least provide some physical representation of the gift card. Gift cards can be offered by businesses selling physical products and/or services, including online-only businesses.