No one – and I mean no one, wants to be the first person to talk about it. We start to see the evidence of it in the supermarkets and every now and then someone will mention how it comes earlier and earlier each year.
But here’s the harsh reality – we’re now in October and if you haven’t already organised your Christmas marketing campaign and have your list of to-dos in place you are already falling behind.
This year will be my 6th year at Green Umbrella Marketing talking Christmas Marketing strategy, and in that time I have learnt that irrespective of what products you sell, or services you deliver, there are three key starting points for any Christmas campaign.
1. Know your dates
Create a timeline that starts now and ends on your final trading day. Identify your key dates on that timeline such as final posting dates if you are selling a product, or the timesheet deadline if you’re a recruiter.
2. Marketing methods
What will be part of your campaign? Social media, email marketing, print, Facebook ads, blogs, telephone calls, cold hard print.
3. Identify your message
What are you communicating – is it a need for staff for the busy period or the latest design of a lead product?
So now I know what I’m selling, how I can sell it and what is my time frame so I can build a plan and set my budgets. My method is to, quite literally, plot the customer journey. I create a table with my first column acting as my timeline. Each column after this represents a marketing method. I make my way through the customer journey in reverse and plot key dates or actions.
If I were the candidate of a recruitment agency submitting my timesheet on date x, I’d have received an email reminder to send it on specific dates – so that gets plotted under the email column next to the relevant date. I’d have worked between x and y dates, and before that, I would have seen a Facebook advert to tell me about the vacancy, or maybe a social media post. Perhaps it was a blog posted on the Facebook page that encouraged me to register – it all gets plotted. This is a simple example, but you get the idea. Map the journey backwards.
If I’m purchasing a product and order it last minute, I’ll have seen and heard about it ‘x’ number of times in ‘x’ number of ways. And it all gets plotted in my plan.
Realistically, Christmas is merely another event. So don’t treat it any differently. Try and allow yourself 6-8 weeks to market it before the date your ‘books close’. Know what you need to do in advance so that you don’t spend more than you should, and always make time to review and adapt your campaign in line with where you are finding success and struggling with it.
Probably one of the most critical pieces of advice I can give is that after the dust has settled, whether it is Christmas or any other event, review what you did, how you did it and when you did it. Then get things in the diary for next year so you can repeat the good stuff! There’s no use reflecting on your Christmas Marketing campaign a year later – your memory will be skewed, and you may forget a small detail that actually had a dramatic effect on the success of your Christmas strategy.