It can be tempting to think that effective Christmas advertising is for the big players only. With the annual battle of the TV ad spot and corporate megastores starting their campaigns earlier and earlier each year, advertising to Christmas shoppers can look like a losing game for small retailers. Whilst competing in such a buyer’s market can present challenges there are actually lots of ways you can make your business stand out, and even a few ways in which you can get an edge on your big brand rivals.
1. Nail your pre-prep
Well, for starters, sad to say, it seems you can never really start too early with your Christmas marketing prep. It’s not unusual for brands to start their campaigns as early as August.
That said, many see the Black Friday period as the beginning of the Christmas shopping period in earnest. If running a Black Friday campaign, you should start that around two weeks before the event.
2. Understand shopping behaviours
It’s particularly important for small retail businesses to understand exactly how consumers shop these days. One particular fact to bear in mind is the rise of mobile. Nearly 70% of UK shoppers will use their mobile device whilst in store. If you have a bricks-and-mortar store, consider using NFC tech; this can, for example, help consumers get more information from your in-store displays.
Consumers are increasingly likely to be using apps like Instagram and Snapchat. Taking out paid ads on these kinds of social media platforms is an effective way to reach out to audiences. These forms of advertising also offer granular targeting, so you can advertise to a fairly specific audience.
That said, don’t neglect the humble email when it comes to marketing to Christmas shoppers.
Not only is email used daily by the majority of consumers, it is also incredibly powerful at motivating transactions, with 66% of consumers having made a purchase as the result of an email.
Emarketing is a great way to relate to your existing customers and to deepen customer loyalty by keeping customers up to date with your products and notifying them of special offers, such as Black Friday/Cyber Monday discounts.
3. Storefront advertising
Again for retailers with real-world stores, storefront and window display advertising is free outdoor advertising; it’s an opportunity to keep consumers abreast of any special offers or new stock lines and it really is a blank canvas for all your advertising messages.
When designing a window display, think about the atmosphere you want to create. Do you want to create a traditional feeling Christmas atmosphere, or shake things up and be a little funky? Harvey Nichols spiced up traditional Christmas imagery with their “disco-glam” window display.
Although this big-hitting brand spares no expense with their displays, it’s easy to imagine a more low-key version; a great example of shaking things up a bit this Christmas with your shop front advertising.
4. Be more social (media) this Christmas
Christmas, it is sometimes said, is all about giving. Well, that’s exactly what social media is for. It’s a way for bands to share content to keep consumers up to date with their activities and feel like they have some sort of identification with your brand. It can be as simple as offering messages of seasonal cheer, or sharing your fav Christmas recipes, or sharing pics of your latest Xmas window display (see above). You can also use social media to host contests or offer discount codes and vouchers.
Creating personalised, organic content is great, but it’s also worth investing in some paid post promotion. This is affordable and easy to do. The best approach to take is to boost posts that seem to be popular already. It’s more effective to use paid promotion to boost an already well-performing post, rather than counting on some pre-meditated post having a big impact.
5. Engage with the community
Engaging with your local community gives your brand added relevance and generates a lot of goodwill towards your business. Consider supporting a local charity by donating a percentage of Christmas proceeds to them, or support initiatives like Christmas Jumper Day, another great way to create engaging social media content.
Perhaps think about supporting your local homeless shelter or food bank over the Christmas period. If you run a cafe or restaurant, perhaps you could make food donations. An indie cafe in Glasgow called The Blue Chair hosts open mic nights and other events to create a community vibe, and draw in customers. They also often hold meetings or gigs in support of alcoholics’ support groups and other worthy causes. They make excellent use of Facebook for promotion and a click glance at their feed shows a lively, happening, community-focused enterprise.
6. Update your Google My Business page
This is something quite simple but that small retailers often miss. Your Google My Business page allows you to update your details to advertise your Christmas opening hours; particularly useful if you offer extended, late night shopping over the holiday period.
If you don’t already have a Google listing, you should get one now; they’re free and make it much easier for people to find your business.
7. Present your products as gifts
This may seem like an obvious point but it’s one that is often overlooked simply for that reason. The traditional approach to selling is to convince people that they themselves need your product. But, of course, people are predominantly buying for other people over the Christmas period, or they’re looking for gift ideas. Focus your marketing content, whether it’s outdoor posters, social media posts, or banner ads, on demonstrating how your products or services can make the ideal gift for that cherished loved one/family member, etc. Bear in mind that people are often at a loss as to what to get. This is your opportunity to make the case for your product lines being the perfect gift for the weary shopper.
8. Make things as easy as possible for shoppers
Part of the secret of advertising to Christmas shoppers is to make things as easy as possible for them. Take the time to test your sales processes to make sure everything runs smoothly for customers. Do you need to invest in more bandwidth for your eCommerce store? Do you need to hire extra staff to help out customers in your physical store? If you can present yourself as the brand that takes the hassle out of Christmas shopping people will keep on returning to you.
9. Focus on delivery
One really essential detail refers to the delivery of your products. If you are selling online, make sure that your delivery is as speedy as possible (remember you are competing with Google Prime). Promote your speedy delivery times widely; it’s a great way to build trust and confidence in your brand and appeal to those last-minute shoppers who need a purchase ASAP.
10. Take out Outdoor advertising
We mentioned at the top how hard it can seem to compete with big label brands. Well, taking out Outdoor advertising is an excellent way to help your business punch above its weight. Christmas sees an increased footfall on high streets and you can use Bubble’s panel map to pick spots near your stores or in localities where you have a strong customer base.
We hope these tips are useful as you gear up for the Christmas season. Some will be more relevant to your business than others, and many of them are just the tip of the Christmas iceberg. The trick is to keep it simple and to try a few new techniques this year and see what sort of impact it has. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results. Think of it as our Christmas gift to you. Merry marketing and ho, ho, ho!