With summer already behind us, and the weather already taking a decidedly autumnal turn, thoughts are now turning towards the upcoming holiday seasons. Halloween is next on the list of course, and you may already have some ideas on how to put some malice in your marketing. But while All Hallows Eve has only gained popularity outside its homeland of the USA in relatively recent times, there’s another holiday on the not-too-distant horizon for which excitement never wobbles or wanes.
With UK consumer spending hitting dizzying heights again in December 2016, despite the economic downturn, Christmas is an opportunity never to be squandered by marketers everywhere. Businesses in almost every industry see Christmas as a time to make up for any quieter periods they may have experienced over the year, with some completely relying on the season for survival.
So, is it too soon to start planning your Christmas marketing campaign already?
No, it isn’t…
While some like to leave their Christmas shopping until the last minute, there are a lot of consumers who are at their most well-planned and conscientious during the build-up to the festive season. Indeed, many people like to spread their shopping out over the few months up to December, which means, even if you, personally, haven’t started thinking about Christmas yet, there’s a good chance a large portion of you customer base has.
However, it’s still considered early doors yet for a lot of people, and so you don’t want to come on too strong with the Christmas branding while it’s still October – lest you incur much tutting and cries of ‘Ridiculous!’ from those who don’t want to hear about it until December. However, you still shouldn’t let that prevent you from starting the roll-out of ideas.
You could even embrace the fact it’s ‘too early’ to start thinking about Christmas and, in doing so, cause your customers to start thinking about Christmas. Early. Your next newsletter could contain a slightly tongue-in-cheek reference by saying something along the lines of, “We realise it’s only October, but…” This will stand a good chance of pre-empting any tutting, and get your customers on-board to any Christmas-related suggestions you may have.
Maybe you could start a Chrimbo-oriented competition? When you send out your next newsletter, offer all your subscribers the chance to be entered in a prize draw each time they make a purchase between now and Christmas Eve. The more purchases they make, the more entries they get. Make the prize something festive, such as a Christmas hamper.
The great thing about a competition like this is it’s not too aggressive with the Christmas message – it just gently reminds customers the silly season is only a few months away.
Big service industry brands such as Starbucks have become well-known for their Christmas branding, and there’s nothing to stop you from thinking about how you could do the same.
If you have a brick-and-mortar shop, why not dedicate a corner somewhere to just a few Christmas related items – just as a soft-sell reminder to customers that Christmas is coming. With early festive marketing, the focus is very much on being subtle, and just slowly introducing the idea of Christmas to your customers. Be too forceful, and you run the risk of putting consumers off.
It could be you don’t wish to actively start promoting Christmas-related ideas yet, and that’s fine. However, don’t be fooled into thinking this means you can put your feet up and relax.
You still want to be ready for when the time does come to shift your marketing into Christmas mode. And this means planning.
It could be you want to create some Christmassy videos to help promote your business over the holiday season. If you’ve not done it before, you’ll be surprised at how much time it can take to produce a professional-quality promotional video. You need to plan it out, write a script, film the video, edit the footage, add music and/or graphics, and more before it’s ready to share with your audience.
Maybe you want to create a social media advent calendar, which gives your customers a new incentive each day of December in the run up to the 25th? Well, now is the time to start planning it out, so any discount codes and posts you need to create are all ready to go. Christmas marketing campaigns can succeed or fail due to timing, so better to have everything ready too early, than too late.
Over to you
If you’ve had any great successes with early festive marketing, or maybe you think it really is too soon for Christmas, please let us know in the comments below.