The holidays are coming (try not to sing that in the Coca-Cola theme tune) and we’re already braced ready to beam and cringe in equal measure. Nothing makes us queasier than an obvious sales pitch for Christmas, or Halloween, Easter and Valentine’s Day for that matter. But nothing makes us warm and fuzzy inside than a well-timed pun too.
For small businesses, content marketing should always be cleverer than selling stuff and Christmas marketing even more so. When carried out well, it builds a relationship with the customer because it’s meaningful, helpful and based around what the customer wants and needs. We’re not saying that you should turn your back on all the Christmas marketing you have planned, but instead, take heed and take our advice first.
Follow these three rules and you should be on Santa’s nice list (sorry).
1) Make life easier for your customers
Yes, yes, we all have to go out Christmas shopping. But shoving some products under our noses isn’t necessarily going to make us run out and grab them. Unless you sell consumer products, marketing a range for Christmas isn’t going to earn you any points.
You can, however, help your customers out. What might be useful to know? Your opening hours, for example. That’s pretty basic, but at least it tells them something they might not already know. Really, you want to dig a little deeper and do something genuinely helpful. Maybe you offer another service around Christmas to help them get organised, share recipes, do a countdown of what needs to be done every day on the lead up – it’s down to you to find the one that works for your brand.
This rule starts with your customer. Think about them, not about your company. This way, you can create real value. If you simply must do something about your products, look at Boots’ gift guide – it has genuinely helpful ideas for the people most of us need to buy for.
2) Keep it short and simple
Some large brands hugely benefit from massive Christmas campaigns, and it’s probably because Christmas is their thing. I didn’t want to mention the big ‘JL’, but there’s a reason why John Lewis milks the season.
Look at Starbucks, on the other hand, and the holiday campaign is much simpler. A few extra flavours and a red-coloured cup is all they need to spread the cheer – and that’s really all holiday marketing needs to be. As a small business, be festive and draw on what your customers enjoy and your marketing will resonate. It could be as simple as adding a few visuals into your website or communications.
Just keep your brand image in mind and make sure you don’t upset it by going too out there.
3) Be a lone wolf
The ingenuity of others should be inspiration, not gospel. Do something different to have the ‘that’s a good idea’ effect. It’s what will get you heard among all the noise of other seasonal marketing. Spotify had a brilliant idea of creating new playlists as part of an RSVP process. If you can attend the party, you add a few songs to the list – helpful, clever and unique.
Pret also stood out by using Christmas to market its charitable endeavours of giving unsold food to hostels and shelters for the homeless, rather than its brie and cranberry baguette. Okay, it’s easier said than done to think of something original, but get the team together for a big brainstorm session early and you may be surprised at what comes up.
And before we forget, it’s worth mentioning that you don’t have to do anything at all for holidays. If you can’t do it well, don’t do it at all. Think long term and perhaps choose just one or two holidays to get involved in based on the ones that suit your brand the most.
Claire Wilson is content strategy director at Stratton Craig.
Further reading on content marketing
Does your business turn over between £50,000 and £500,000? If so, you are eligible for the new Small Business Grants initiative from SmallBusiness.co.uk. We’re giving away £5,000 every month in a free-to-enter competition. Apply now by clicking here. Good luck!
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