When it comes to seasonal marketing, it’s important to have a plan in place well before the holidays hit. Seasonal marketing requires an entirely different mindset than everyday marketing, and figuring out a branding strategy requires planning. Marketing starts sometime after Halloween.
About 35.5 percent of shoppers plan to start their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving and another 19.3 percent on Black Friday. If you want to reach these early shoppers, your holiday branding should be in place well before Thanksgiving arrives.
The best way to learn how to create a seasonal campaign that reaches your target audience is to study what other brands do well with their holiday marketing. Here are seven tips and three companies to help you on your seasonal marketing journey:
1. Plan Sales Early
Around 49 percent of marketers launch their holiday campaigns before Halloween even hits. If you want to gain traction with your holiday specials, the earlier you get started, the better. However, your entire marketing campaign doesn’t have to be centered on a single sale. You can certainly have a series of seasonal marketing campaigns leading up to Christmas.
REI tapped into its target audience by announcing it was closing its stores on Black Friday and giving employees a paid day off. It even started a campaign around the concept called #OptOutside and encouraged people to get out and enjoy national parks and the great outdoors.
2. Create Holiday Packaging
When people search for gifts for the holidays, they want to know you’ve planned something special for them. Even if you have a very small operation, you should at least add a logo to a box and use the opportunity to brand your products through packaging. Even if you offer a service rather than a product, you can package a special bundle together and use holiday imagery to make it clear it is a seasonal special.
3. Tap Into Emotions
Take the time to think through what problems your brand solves for people. If you sell cookware, perhaps your product makes cooking Thanksgiving dinner easier. Think through the different scenarios where people might use your product during the holiday season and why. With a bit of brainstorming, you should be able to come up with an emotional connection to your product.
HotelTonight tapped into something most people dread during the holidays — visiting with at least one family member who is a bit difficult. It tapped into the challenges when visiting family by pointing out that you might have to sleep on grandma’s air mattress, but maybe not if you book a hotel. It even asked for crazy holiday stories from its customers, offering a prize for the best one.
4. Target Current Customers
Your current customers are one of the best resources you have. The chances you’ll sell to a current customer are 60 to 70 percent, but only 5 to 20 percent for a new lead. Take the time to come up with sales specifically meant for your current customers. Offer discounted shipping, early shopping specials and poll them early about what would make their holiday shopping easier.
5. Spread Goodwill
During the holidays, people remember time spent with family and friends, and they expect others to do the same. If you can figure out a way to offer some type of tool or helping hand, this will go a long way with your customers and may gain you some traction on social media. What this looks like varies widely from brand to brand.
What you offer might vary, from free gift-wrapping to simply offering a shopping tool on your website that helps visitors find that rare item they’re on the hunt for.
Google’s Santa Tracker is a good example of a tool offered to help parents track where Santa is. It is all in good fun, but perfectly targets a big portion of the Google audience. The Santa Tracker has been in place for a few years, but Google adds new features each Christmas, showing users they care about making the free tracker fun and interesting for users.
6. Focus on Retargeting Campaigns
The majority of people won’t make a purchase the first time they visit your website. Retargeting can be a powerful tool that reminds them they were interested and might want to purchase your product. The holidays are a great time for focused retargeting campaigns, because it reminds the consumer about your product when they are in buying mode anyway.
However, you have to make sure your retargeting campaign makes sense. You don’t want to just haphazardly advertise to every person who liked your Facebook page. Instead, take a look at the actions those who visited your site took. If they went to a specific product page and then signed up for your mailing list, they may be seeking a discount or free shipping on that product. Your new offer should keep in mind where the customer is in their buying journey.
7. Engage With the Holidays
You’ve likely heard the advice that you must engage consumers in order to keep them interested. When it comes to holiday marketing, you also need to tap into the feelings, colors and traditions of the holidays and make your marketing specific what you’re targeting.
The best place to start is by thinking about what the holidays mean to you and how your company ties into those feelings. Are the holidays about spending time with family? Does your product help someone with that? Perhaps you see the holidays as a time to assist others, so you come up with a campaign that donates a portion of all profits to a charity. There are many different ways to tap into the holiday spirit, so figure out something unique from what your competitors are doing and that speaks to you as a brand.
Holiday Branding Tips
Figuring out how to brand your marketing during the holidays is challenging. You don’t want to do the same tired things everyone else does year after year. Instead, think about how to hone in on your specific target audience and their needs for the holiday season. Be open to new ideas as they come to you and have several campaigns in place.